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Pig farming 101: 15 Things You Need to Know about Raising Pigs


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Everybody loves the feeling of growing something of your own and eventually reaping the benefits of this when the time comes. Not everyone has the stomach to get through the process but hey, we all love the end results that we get from it.

While there are definitely a lot of people out there that despise the mere thought of eating meat, you need to take into consideration the fact that you helped your pigs have a good life and despite the fact that it was cut short, as long as it was done in a humane manner there’s no reason to fuss over it.

With that said, for today’s article we actually decided to delve deep into one of the most popular animals that people raise and eventually eat and that is none other than the common household pig.

Pig farm
kallerna / wikipedia.org

Raising pigs is no easy feat by all means, but there are certain universally accepted factors that you can take into consideration that are sure to make your job a lot easier if you follow them accordingly.

On top of that, do you even know for a fact whether you want a pig or not? How many do you want? What are the best pig breeds for you? What are the many different advantages and disadvantages to raising pigs and should you consider starting out your farm with a few?

Those are the questions that we wish to answer with this short article, but before we can get into any of that let’s start off with the basics so that everyone here can get on the same level.

Should You Raise Your Own Pigs?

Should You Raise Your Own Pigs
Kenneth Schipper Vera / unsplash.com

The main reason as to why you should ask yourself this question is honestly just because you’re the only one that can answer it properly.

What we mean by this is that at the end of the day, no matter how many people recommend you to get a couple of pigs for yourself and whatnot, you’re the one that will have to take care of them, not them, so there’s no reason as to why you should value their opinions over yours.

So instead of that we’d like to take the time and provide you with our very own list of reasons for and against buying a pig or starting a pig farm. You can make your own choice afterwards and hopefully that will be the more fitting one for you overall.

The Pros of Raising Your Own Pigs

Pros of Raising Your Own Pigs
Brett Sayles / pexels.com

First and foremost, we do need to mention the fact that despite the popular stigma that goes around with them, pigs are actually nowhere near as dirty or messy as most people think. In fact, they are quite clean creatures and although they do love to mess around in the dirt a lot, they only get as dirty as you see them in online videos because the owners don’t take the time to care for them.

On top of that you don’t actually need to clean up after them since you can use all of their wastage for your own benefit and you can feed them any leftovers you have in the house without a problem.

Another crazy advantage that a lot of people don’t take into consideration is the fact that the pig itself is actually quite a smart fellow, and we do mean that. They are amongst the smartest creatures on this planet, smarter than dogs and even 3-year old children, so they can also be trained quite easily too.

They are never boring to watch, you can literally spend hours just looking at them all day long and they’ll never stop moving around, they will never stop scurrying around trying to get every bit of entertainment they can get from their piece of dirt.

Let’s not forget about the fact that they are also amongst the best animals out there when it comes to their pricing on the market. You can literally sell a pig and make enough of a profit from that trade to feed two more pigs for a whole year.

Last but not least, although this is more of an objective point of view than anything, we’d argue that the pig meat is also amongst the tastiest out there. Yes, we love our little babies but by God, when the time comes, you will come to appreciate the time and money you invested into your pig and that’s a fact.

The Cons of Raising Your Own Pigs

Cons of Raising Your Own Pigs
Nicolas Castez / unsplash.com

Sadly though, it isn’t all positives when talking about owning pigs and raising them yourself. In a lot of the cases, you will have to deal with several shortcomings which are definitely not the type of stuff you’d want to have on your plate while managing your farm.

For example, pigs do eat a lot which results in a lot of manure. This can be a good thing if you can make use of it, but it can also be quite detrimental if you own too many pigs and you don’t have the time to clean up after them.

We mentioned previously how they’re a lot cleaner than we’ve been led to believe and we still stick to that, but at the same time they do poop a lot so either clean up after them on a daily basis or get someone else to do it for you.

The second example that we need to bring up is the fact that since pigs are quite smart creatures, they can end up actually outsmarting the pen locks and thus escape their confinement.

Thirdly, let’s not forget that growing pigs isn’t for everyone considering the fate that you bring them up to. Not everyone can become completely stone faced while taking care of their pigs and that’s understandable.

So, if you don’t think that you have what it takes to actually butcher your pigs then you might want to end up getting a different animal or getting into a different industry altogether.

There are plenty of other advantages and disadvantages that you need to keep in mind before you see whether you’re fit for this job or not, but those are the most important ones we could think of on the spot.

Things You Need to Know about Raising Pigs

If you believe that the positives outweigh the negatives then you should definitely start your own pig farm because you will immediately see a profit arise from your decision. But anyways, with that being said, let’s jump into our next segment for the day, aka the top 15 things you never knew about raising pigs in the first place.

1. Invest in Heavy Duty Fencing

Invest in Heavy Duty Fencing
Sandy Millar / unsplash.com

We mentioned previously how pigs are very smart and how this can be both an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time.

The reason for this is because they can easily outmaneuver their way out of their cages, which is why you should always invest into getting a heavy-duty fence wrapped around their confinement.

Reinforce it as much as possible too, remember that this is quite a large animal that you’re dealing with and if they’re distressed, they can end up forcing their way out of the pen in no time.

2. Pigs Smell, A Lot

Pigs Smell, A Lot
Stefanie Poepken / unsplash.com

Yes, pigs can be quite clean creatures especially considering just how much of a bad stigma there is around them being dirty creatures. But this doesn’t mean that they are actually completely odorless, quite the contrary actually.

They don’t smell so bad that you’d have to animate green smoke coming out from their pores at all times, but if you don’t take the time to clean up after them on a daily basis then you can expect the smell to be quite a lot to take in at first.

Just remember that if you’re investing into a pig farm at your home you might want to keep your distance from your neighbor as you do, unless you want them to start throwing soap at you early in the morning during your run.

3. Pigs Require a Lot of Food

Pigs Require a Lot of Food
Amber Kipp / unsplash.com

This may come off as a shock to you, but those massive bodies of theirs do actually require a lot of food to maintain too. This is actually quite funny to even say out loud, but people often times don’t realize just how much money you’ll have to throw at the food that your pigs are eating to keep them full.

We recommend becoming associated with your local bread store or your local bakery and getting your produce straight from there so as to keep it budget friendly on the long run.

4. Don’t Get Too Attached to Your Pigs

Don’t Get Too Attached to Your Pigs
Kameron Kincade / unsplash.com

We all love our pets and that’s a fact, but what many people don’t realize is that there is an end goal when it comes to taking care of your pig and it’s not the happy ending type.

Instead, you’ll have to keep your distance from them emotionally for the day of the slaughter, or you might end up getting a tad bit too attached to the little buggers.

5. Pigs Are Very Playful

Pigs Are Very Playful
Forest Simon / unsplash.com

This ties in with our previous mention, but in a lot of the cases out there pigs can be as playful and intelligent as any other pet you could get your hands on.

Because of this they can end up following you around as you feed them, they can chase you around looking to be petted and they can act like overgrown dogs in no time. Again, keep your distance from them unless you can actively disassociate during the butchering segment.

6. Invest in a Quality Shelter

Invest in a Quality Pig Shelter
Alina Kovalchuk / pexels.com

The best part about this is the fact that the shelter is actually not that expensive of a commodity so you’ll be able to get out of the deal without having to break the bank.

Still, we recommend using something that can actually last them for the whole duration of their lifetime. We personally use a basic three-sided wooden shelter with a sloped roof, but you might be inclined to use something different.

Just remember, the more you keep them in the shelter, the more poop will be in there, so make sure to make them as comfy as possible in the shelter and let them run around early in the morning so they don’t end up sleeping in their own muck.

7. Pigs Require a Lot of Clean Water

Pigs Require a Lot of Clean Water
Siggy Nowak / pixabay.com

We need to put the emphasis on the clean part right here and for good reason too. Pigs can end up mucking up their own water in a matter of minutes, especially since they spend so much time rooting all day long.

Since they are quite massive too, they can end up toppling the water bucket over as well, so make sure to keep it stable at all times and replace it multiple times per day, every day.

8. Pigs Require a Place to Wallow

Pigs Require a Place to Wallow
Michael Strobel / pixabay.com

Many people don’t realize this, but pigs actually do require a designated area for wallowing. In case you didn’t know this, the pigs will essentially need a large shallow hole filled with water that they can wallow around in.

You can invest in a natural wallow as well if you have the means for it as it will end up saving a lot of money on the long run and it can end up reducing the number of times that you’ll need to replace the water as well.

9. Pigs Require a Durable Feeder

Pig Feeder
Sioux Steel Hog Feeder

Pigs can grow up to be quite massive, which is honestly great for when the butchering time comes. But until then, it’s anything but a positive as it will require you to invest in a lot of commodities to make sure they don’t mess up because of their size.

For example, you will need to invest in a sturdy feeder that cannot be broken by them simply falling on it or pushing into it multiple times over.

10. Male Pigs Need to be Castrated

Male Pigs
Amanda Slater / wikipedia.org

All male pigs, or boars if you will, need to be castrated 14 days into their lives as otherwise this will end up causing the meat to taste a lot funkier.

The testosterone in their system is just a hindrance when it comes to the taste and even more so, you might not want a non-castrated pig simply because this can lead to you having to take care of a lot more pigs than you signed up for.

11. Every Pig Is Different

Every Pig Is Different
Jai79 / pixabay.com

What we mean by this is that each and every pig out there will have its very own personality, which means that you shouldn’t believe that just because on average pigs are very sweet and cuddly, that instantly means that they’ll also be that easy to take care of on the long run.

Male pigs can be a lot calmer than females and vice versa, it all depends on their nature and on how they matured. Mangalitsa pigs are very different than other pig breeds. 

12. Never Keep Pigs Alongside Other Animals

Never Keep Pigs Alongside Other Animals
kallerna / wikipedia.org

We learned this the hard way, but basically pigs can end up trying to mate with any creature that they can get with, which wouldn’t be all that big of a problem if only they didn’t also weigh a ton.

So, they can quickly end up hurting the animals or even killing them if they’re not careful, which is why you should always keep your pigs alongside other pigs.

13. Store Bought Meat is Cheaper

Store Bought Meat is Cheaper
Darth Liu / unsplash.com

As sad of a reality as this is, the fact of the matter is that you can easily buy the same amount of meat that you would by investing into the food, the supplements and the caring of the pigs themselves.

The difference however comes from the taste and the overall quality of the meat. Since you know what you fed the pig and that you never used any substances to force them to grow, the meat will be a lot tastier, albeit a bit more expensive and more of a hassle to get on the long run.

14. Train the Pigs

Train the pigs
Pig farm in Vampula / kallerna / wikipedia.org

As silly as it may sound, you will need to show the pig that you are in charge to make sure that they keep themselves in line. What we mean by this is the fact that the pigs can end up attacking you if they’re in heat and they see you as a potential mate or a threat, so make sure to train them carefully to avoid this.

Training may include lightly kicking them if they start nibbling on your feet or slapping their cheeks when they start pushing you around. They will end up squealing away and being drama queens, but alas, it has to be done.

15. Get a Pro Butcher for the Job

A lot of people end up making the mistake of taking the butchering job themselves while also getting attached to the little pigs they raised.

If you feel like you’re too attached to them or if you just know yourself well enough to realize this beforehand then just invest in a personal butcher or just get in touch with your local butcher to get the job done.


Pig farming
Marek Piwnicki / unsplash.com

So, while the process in itself can be quite hard to get through and honestly, many people would argue that the cons outweigh the pros by a longshot here, we would still say that raising your very own pigs can still be quite a good choice on the long run.

We hope that now you know whether this is the right profession for you and honestly, if you still think that this is the right job for you then we wish you all the luck onwards.

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About Leah Shelton

Involved in the “green” arena for over 20 years, Leah has worn many hats due to her diverse experience and knowledge in the field. In addition to writing for Agronomag, she’s also a sustainability consultant with a unique perspective on eco-friendly farming practices. Learn more about Agronomag's Editorial Process.

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