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Old 03-18-2014, 09:54 AM
 
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
7,550 posts, read 12,657,075 times
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Ain't no expert, but speaking from living with a dozen or so for the past year, and being I do most of the caretaking (tho they're not my pigs)....

If you just have a few hogs, you won't need much -- other than secure containment. Hogs are VERY difficult to contain, compared to other livestock, and once loose, are destructive like nothing else. They're extremely strong for their size, sneaky, smarter than other livestock (they'll actively look for weak spots in the fence), and can take apart just about any fence, if suitably motivated. I've seen a big boar THROW a 200 pound freezer carcass like it was fluff, just stuck his snout under it and heaved.

You keep them demotivated by making sure they're never hungry or thirsty. And with a high-zappin' electric fence.

They're really tough compared to other stock, too. Once they get past about five pounds, they'll survive just about anything short of being beheaded. You'll want to do your castrating when they're 3-4 days old -- after that they get too strong to hold.

They don't have a chute here but seems to me that would make worming and vaccination a lot easier. (Actually they don't bother doing either. Probably hurts efficiency some but you can't tell by looking at the pigs.)

I've read something like 3 pounds of feed per pig per day, tho free choice they probably eat twice that, and do a lot better. They're feeding mostly old bread and screenings here, tho the Mukotas get only hay and do fine on it (the other pigs can't get by on just hay). They like moldy half-rotten hay the best!

Supposedly you can keep a boar from getting too big to be manageable by cutting back his feed when he gets to the desired size. This strikes me as a good policy, given that the bigger they are, the harder they are to contain, and they get to where they know it. -- The world record hog was over 1900 pounds!!
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Old 03-18-2014, 12:42 PM
 
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
4,955 posts, read 5,847,266 times
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Personally, I never thought hogs were any harder to keep in than any other animal as long as they had adequit room, but I agree they will expoit any weakness in your fencing.

You also have the option of running them in a pasture as opposed to a pen, and if you have them in a herd or seperated out.
Herds work well as long as you don't mind the piglets being born at any time, and there is always the chance of injury from fighting, but they do well in a sounder which is a pigs normal way of living in the wild.

If you seperate them and keep them in individual pens you will have fewer injuries, they're easier to handle, but you have to feed individually as well. Pens are better for putting on weight in a hurry as they can't get any exercise, pastures are better for leaner high quality meat.

Usually the sows are kept in seperate pens as are the boars. The feeders are run in sounders.

If you are planning on a heritage operation with grass fed free range pork, you will need to pasture them.

Start small until you learn something about what you are doing. You don't want to put all your eggs in one basket

If you are thinking of a small homestead, you could try several things like sheep, goats, cattle, hogs, turkeys, rabbits all at the same time, or mix and match and see what fits you best.

Personally I don't like goats as they are impossible to fence for, are into everything, and will eat/drink a lot of stuff that will kill them.

Hogs are easy because they don't have the space requirements, and are high production. A sow can have 14 or more piglets in a litter, and can have 2 litters per year, (3 in the wild), and the little ones can breed at 6-8 months so you can get into the business quickly.
Any hog can be dangerous, so always keep that in mind especially sows with litters.
Boars can get big, but are usually limited by their breed. Even large breed hogs rarely get over 5-600 lbs, but hybrids fed high protein feeds in unlimited quantities can get enormous.

I raised hogs for several years, I loved the amount of meat and quality, and when we learned how to make our own bacon, sausage, ham, it ruined me for commercial stuff!

Pigs are like humans and can and do eat just about anything, but a pig won't overeat, they are super smart and can make good pets.
A pig doesn't have sweat glands so they need mud to wallow in to keep cool and to fight insects. They will deficate in one corner of their pen, they are actually very clean animals.
I would reccomend starting with a mid size breed so they can be processed at 200-225 lbs. A pig can convert 3 lbs of feed into 1 lb of pig, so they grow fast.

Read, Learn, attend extension classes, find out more before you dive in, but hogs can be a great place to start rasing livestock on a small piece of ground
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Old 03-18-2014, 03:25 PM
 
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First off you can not just sell meat to the public. You need have the animals processed in a USDA inspected packing house. You are proposing entering animals into the public food chain. You will need vaccinate and keep current with parasite preventatives. If you wish realize the profits from an organic operation, there will be protocols to follow and certifications to achieve.

Feeding out several weaner pigs (putting 200+ pounds on a pig) is completely different in infrastructure needs than farrow to finish.

For instance, pigs can not produce their required amno acids such as lysine. It must be provided in their feed. They are not a grazing animal. They can enjoy eating greens but it can not be their complete diet.
In general 3 pounds of pig feed equals 1 pound pig weight gain in a 180-250 pound animal. Many convert at better rates and different breeds yield better carcasses than others.

If you are serious, take a course and buy books from the County Extension on pork production.
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Old 03-18-2014, 03:43 PM
 
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
4,955 posts, read 5,847,266 times
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We always have our meat processed at a local packing plant, Never had anyone ask for vaccination records either from direct sales or through the sales ring.

Usually our customers come to the place, pick out the individual animal they want, we deliver to the packer, the customer picks up their meat cut, wrapped and labled.

One thing that helps to suppliment hogs is outdated dairy products like cheese. Hogs love it and if it isn't for human consumption you can sometimes get the products for free or fairly cheap at a distributor.

Yes hogs need amino acids, and that is why many feeders include animal proteins, (meat meal) and fats in the feed if they don't use a commercial feed.
The primary reason for avoiding commercial feeds are that many have added antibiotics in the feed.

I agree with checking with the extension service, but also talk to small breeders about the pluses and minuses of various breeds.

Production breeds like Durocs and Hampshires are easy to get, and grow fast, but if you are going for the leaner heritage meat, you will need to research other breeds like the Old Spots, Tamworth, Hereford or Wessex or any number of heritage breeds. Look for breeds that have the size and purpose you want depending on if you are raising them for the meat or the lard.

Stay away from Russian Boar as those can be considered exotic game species and fall under the Fish and Game's jurisdiction and add a level of confusion you don't need to deal with.

If you want to sell organically raised, hormone free free range meat at a premium price, you will need the diseease resistance of the heritage breeds so they don't need all the vaccinations of hogs raised in a production pig factory setting.
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Old 03-18-2014, 06:38 PM
 
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You all should know. A hungry hog will eat anything.
Yeah for sure. Be careful.
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Old 03-18-2014, 07:54 PM
 
Location: Black Hawk, CO
6 posts, read 8,901 times
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You guys are a great resource!

I research like a fiend before doing anything and have used my county extension and the CSU (Colorado State University) extension extensively in the past. The short term goal is to get enough land where I can put up some hay for snow season and run a primarily livestock homesteading operation to both feed my family and learn which livestock I really want to focus on. I will always diversify as changing markets can put a real damper on income potential (all the eggs in one basket issue). Truthfully I wasn't really looking at hogs at first but you've given me food for thought and so many more sleepless nights reading all I can are coming up.

The farm will have at least one dairy cow for buttermilk and butter, I'm thinking a dexter as its dual purpose and small. Poultry and potentially game birds if I can find a local buyer for pheasants. Now pigs are a potential. I will start small and not get ahead of myself.

As for slaughter, I know all to well about USDA as I've been pushing them to allow camelid processing at their facilities. I process alpacas and llamas currently for personal consumption and selling to friends and family.
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Old 03-18-2014, 08:53 PM
 
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
7,550 posts, read 12,657,075 times
Reputation: 2963
Quote:
Originally Posted by MTSilvertip View Post
Yes hogs need amino acids, and that is why many feeders include animal proteins, (meat meal) and fats in the feed if they don't use a commercial feed.
I remember many years ago when the local pig growers suddenly discovered the virtues of meat meal in their feed, and how much better their pigs grew on it. Overnight it went from readily available at any feed mill, to you had to be there when the truck arrived if you wanted any, cuz the hog growers would fight you for it.

Used to be three rendering plants in Billings. Now if you want meat meal, far as I know the nearest source is in Spokane.
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Old 03-19-2014, 11:55 AM
 
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Oh boy. Feeding meat to pigs is how foot & mouth and other nasty diseases are spread. It is prohibited unless certain temperature guidelines are followed...basically cooking the meat first.
What individuals do with their own pigs for personal consumption is well...personal choice. When food enters the food chain it becomes the public's business.
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Old 03-19-2014, 12:24 PM
 
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
7,550 posts, read 12,657,075 times
Reputation: 2963
Meat meal has been processed at high temperature (the guy at the plant told me 450F degrees).

I feed it to the dogs when I can get it.

The only downside is that it looks and smells exactly like ground-up cat poop.
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Old 03-19-2014, 01:44 PM
 
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
4,955 posts, read 5,847,266 times
Reputation: 8416
Meat meal is cooked....That is what the rendering process is.

Feeding raw meat to hogs can transmit disease, feeding cooked meat is an entirely different thing.
Cooking the meat during the rendering process kills parasites and bacteria.

Just like at home, you raise the internal temperature of the meat to above 160 degrees, and you are pretty safe.

Hogs are vunerable to trichinosis, same as bears, but cooking the meat well pretty much takes care of it.
What is the needed cooking temperature to kill trichinosis in pork?

Feeding the pigs raw feeds can cause problems, same as humans eating raw foods, look at the people that get food poisioning each year from vegetables that haven't been cleaned and or cooked properly.

Just a fact of life. Animals on a farm or ranch don't live in sterilized conditions, especially not those raised organically.

If you worry about what goes into your food, you have to grow it or raise it yourself. Trusting our food supply to overseas operations has already caused problems.
Having a healthy animal raised on a good farm or homestead locally is a much better food source than something that was processed in a factory in China
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