Should You Raise Pigs?

I'm sure you saw the title of this article and immediately thought, "I already live with a few."

However, whether you're a self-reliant homesteader or just want to cut away from your food budget, raising pigs (of the porcine variety) is a great way to become more self-reliant and sufficient. If you raise your own meat in any scenario, you will have more control over how it is raised and fed, and you can make sure that it is essentially raised organically (whether or not you apply for organic certification). Raising your own meat is less expensive than purchasing meat that is not factory-farmed.

And raising your own meat is sustainable in the event of economic hard times – the source is right there on your own land. In fact, you may be able to barter your homesteaded meat with others in the community for useful supplies and resources.

Space Requirements for Pigs
The first and probably the most influential question to consider is how much space you are working with.

Pigs are very social animals, and do well in groups of two or more. You’ll want to have at least that many if you intend to breed your pigs for the long term. They don’t need a great deal of room, although you will have to give them enough space to be comfortable – any enclosure should allow for at least ten or fifteen square feet per animal.

Hog panels are the most affordable means of enclosing pigs that is also effective. Make sure their enclosure has at least a partial roof to give the pigs shade as well as some shelter from inclement weather. And pigs will appreciate it if you provide them with a few bales of hay for bedding.

Food for Your Pigs
Pigs eat a lot, as anyone knows – but they require a balanced diet to be healthy and produce quality meat. You can pasture your pigs for part of their diet, but they also need a rich source of protein as well. While pelleted pig feed is sold commercially, you can also construct a balanced diet of table scraps, boiled eggs, apples, pumpkins, and cracked corn.

Many people will tell you that you can raise a pig on any type of food - "They'll eat anything." While this might be partly true, your pigs will produce better results and higher-quality fertilizer if you feed them a balanced diet. Be careful not to get too carried away with the protein you feed your pig. Many people know that pigs need protein and get carried away giving them too much. Instead keep to a balanced diet.

Like we hinted at above, one of the advantages of raising pigs is that their manure is as rich as their diet. Pig manure can be composted along with green and brown garden matter to create a rich fertilizer that your vegetable gardens will certainly benefit from.

Keeping Your Pigs Healthy
Pigs are generally very healthy, robust animals that will make it from birth to bacon without so much as a runny nose.

But it is still a good idea to make sure you know your local livestock veterinarian in the event that you do encounter any issues with your animals. It’s also a wise practice to treat your animals with anti-parasitic medication; if they develop a parasite it can wreak havoc on your entire herd.

From Birth to Bacon
While pigs can be a great way to treat your kids responsibility, most people raise pigs in order to eat them.

If you are homesteading your pigs, you’ll want to find a local processor who can slaughter them for you, as it is difficult work. If money is pretty tight, you may not have this luxury, so you will want to learn how to properly raise, slaughter and dress your animals. Have a seasoned hunter or professional help you the first few times until you know what you’re doing.

Do You Raise Pigs?
Do you or someone you know raise pigs? We'd love to hear from you. Comment below and tell us what recommendations you have about raising pigs. What lessons did you learn and what advice do you have for others?

9 thoughts on “Should You Raise Pigs?”

  • Virgil

    We raised our pigs, cattle, turkey, ducks, chicken, guineas and most fruits and veggies. As we got older couldn't butcher our pigs and cattle. We tried several butchers with the same results. Never received back the same animal we sent. The 350 to 400 pound pigs when we butcher them at home had pork chops that would almost covered both hands--but what we got from the butchers ranged from sizes that 2/3 would fit in one hand and larger; the ground meat had a very strong taste. Sent 8 samples from the last pig sent to the butchers to a genetics lab in Pa. Results were that the meat we received back came from no less that 5 different animals, with further tests reveled two of the samples had high levels of antibiotic in them at the time of butchering.

    We have now found a group of like minded souls and have a butchering day we gather together to butcher all the groups animals and every one does what they are able to do to get the job done--leaving with assurance that the meat taken home is our own.

  • Karen

    My husband and I used to work at a commercial hog operation, and we also raised some of the culled runts from the farm. My best advice, if you don't have experience, is to try to work at one of these places to see if raising hogs is something you really want to do. There are a lot of considerations, all the way from veterinary care to how close you are to your neighbors. Yes, they stink, no matter what you do. You can get used to it, but your neighbors will not.

  • Karen

    Virgil, we had the same experience with a butcher in Arkansas; however we did find a great facility in Missouri, and have been sending our animals there for years. We also purchase from trusted local farmers in Missouri, and will pay extra to have one of them deliver for us. I really think there needs to be a website (sort of like Angie's List) for butchers and farmers.

  • Elizabeth

    I have articles from you and several other websites about Animal Husbandry...Raising Rabbits, Raising Chickens and now Raising Pigs. BIG one seems to want to write any articles on the butchering side of the food spectrum. I always buy my chickens whole and butcher them myself so I know where the joints are but that's not the same as taking an animal from life to the dinner table. One absolute must is, DON'T EVER NAME YOU DINNER. It creates pets out of them. But some articles with full color bloody pictures would help. Seeing the blood will also help some people make the decision about raising and breeding before they get too deep in the manure, so to speak. I used to breed cats. I picked a difficult breed because there was always the chance if spinabifida. You have to face the fact that that animal need to be euthanized as soon as possible. Birthing always seemed to take place on a Saturday night. Do I let the little thing live in pain for 36-48 hours or do I take care of it myself? The answer wasn't easy the first time. It was never easy but I learned it had to be done.

  • Mike

    We have American Guinea hogs I encourage readers to check into the breed as they are wonderful for meat easy to raise and smaller then normal pigs. I think they are wonderful animals for all preppers especially those with limited land.

  • Northwoods Cheryl
    Northwoods Cheryl March 23, 2015 at 12:58 am

    I used to raise hogs both for market as well as for home use. I agree with Elizabeth; don't NAME them especially if kids are involved. Their manure is a lot like dog poop as far as composting is involved.. If you intend to breed them, be sure you have a bottle of injectable Iron and many syringes. We always had to give the little ones a shot of iron, though it may just be a regional thing. Everyone up here in North East Wisconsin had to. Also, you need to learn how to castrate little males when they get to about 20 pounds in weight. Males will fight, they are very hard on the fencing when they do. It also makes the meat taste "strong" if left unneutered. It's NOT hard to do at all yourself, (with a helper, of course) but if you are afraid to or are squeamish, find someone ahead of time, who will come out and do it for you. They can eat pretty much all your table scraps. We also fed them a hog feed we had ground up and mixed at a feed mill. We mixed it in water so they wouldn't be breathing in the ground up meal "dust" and getting pneumonia from it. We used to give ours lawn clippings in the pen, just for greens as they would have everything rooted up down to the dirt otherwise. Windfall apples from our trees as well as the excess over sized zucchini and such from the garden. Your fences must be STRONG. We used the welded panels like the ones in the picture at the top of this article. We buried them a few inches under the surface of the ground so they couldn't get under with their snouts and lift them up. Nothing is harder to catch than loose pigs! They will kill barn cats if they can catch them, at least mine did. We always had a local Amish guy come out and butcher for us when we had more than 1 to do. You need a block and tackle or a "Come Along" on a strong tree branch to hoist them. You don't have to scald them; we never did. We have our own small smokehouse to do the hams and bacon after brining them. Here, the meat packers all guarantee you get your own meat back!

  • Jonathan Rimington
    Jonathan Rimington March 23, 2015 at 2:21 am

    While I am reasonably proficient at butchering game meat, deer mostly (even kudu and warthog in Africa) one of my kids gave me a really good book with lots of pictures, processes and recipes that should be in the library of any prepper. It is called, "The Complete Book of Butchering, Smoking, Curing and Sausage Making" by Philip Hasheider and published by Voyageur Press.

  • Jim Boggess

    Another option is to keep a good quality boar. I tried a sow and it took along time to find a boar. It was cost prohibitive for me to get the vet to A. I. After the piglets were weaned I kept two to feed out and had the rest of the litter sold in three days. I aquired a well bred boar, who had lots of quiet time since I only had one sow. So I started breeding him out. I would get the pick of the litters. The boar was only at my place twice a year. I soon found it better for me to sell my sow as I had piglets enough to feed out and sell. The key is a very well bred boar. He was also in demand from owners breeding show pigs and those picks of the litter brought premium dollars.

  • Dennis Porter

    These articles are so great and interesting. I wish there was a way to get all the back articles in a pdf file. If that is possible please let me know.
    Thank you for these articles.
    Dennis Porter, dedicated fan

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