It’s 2019, it’s the Year of the Pig, so naturally, we had to put up something pig-related. I mean, it’s a good time as any to raise porkers, regardless of what year we’re in. But how easy or hard is it, really? Is raising your own bacon the right thing for you?
If you’re into learning the ropes by going through a pig’s entire life cycle, then you can go and buy a boar and a sow. You have to understand though that boars have tusks and unpredictable. Boars can get aggressive, even more so during the breeding season. Yes, they’re what you get your bacon from. But yes, they can also trample you to death. Not a good prospect.
If you want a safer and easier to control situation going, then purchase a pregnant sow instead. If you’re just raising pigs for slaughter, just get weaners — 2-3-month-old piglets that no longer rely on their mother’s milk. You’ll only need to keep them for about 6 months, or up until they reach slaughter weight, which is about 250 pounds. Whichever comes first.
Buying a pregnant sow is practical since pigs average at 10 piglets per litter. Coupled with the fact that you can breed the sow again next year, it’s cheaper and more economical in the long run compared to getting weaners. You’ll also ensure that piglets gain access to colostrum, the first milk all mammals produce after birthing. Colostrum contains antibodies to protect the newborn against disease, making them less susceptible to infection. Just loan a boar when you’re ready to breed.
Pros Of Raising Pigs
- Sows are protective, which is a huge plus if your pen has weak areas that are susceptible to predators like coyotes. Your image of pigs is probably influenced by cartoons and Hollywood — cute, pink. Nothing can be farther from the truth. They get really big and really strong. Even without piglets, a fully-matured pig can take care of matters on its own turf.
- Pigs will eat ANYTHING. A big plus for zero-food wastage, just toss your leftovers, vegetable scraps, and other food you won’t eat anymore (but is not moldy) into a bucket and give it to the porkers. It will supplement the feed you’re giving them, save on feed expenses, and they’ll love you for it.
- Knowing what goes into your pig makes for more delicious pork than you have ever had — you are what you eat, so make sure what you eat eats well. You get it.
- They make for good living fertilizers of your land.
Cons Of Raising Pigs
- The protective nature of sows can unconsciously be directed to you, especially when you’re in the process of collecting the piglets from the pen for vaccination. Piglets will scream bloody murder, and the sow might attack you.
- A pig’s head is built to dig into the earth to forage for food. It’s strong, it’s powerful, and it WILL uproot small trees, huge rocks, and your fencing. There is a reason for the rampant feral boar invasion here in America — while your fences can keep deer, cattle, goats, sheep, and other animals from getting to the other side (depends on what side of the fence the animal is on), it won’t keep pigs in. Pigs are strong enough to go under or through the fences, or just dig out the fence altogether.
- Pigs have voracious appetites, which also means a lot of manure. Loads of it. Neighbors downwind of your pen have every right to complain about the horrid smell, so you have to assess your situation and make sure you follow your state laws.
- If you live up north or in any state that’s cold most of the year, then raising pigs would prove to be expensive. Cold temperatures would make pigs dedicate the majority of the calories they consume to keep warm instead of getting bigger. To make up for it, you need more feed. Expensive!
There are still so much more to learn about pigs in general, but you get the basic idea. If you have other pros and cons to raising swine, comment them below!