Saturday, 21 September 2013

Smallholding : Keeping Pigs

The pig can be a great addition to the smallholding.
They can be bought in during early summer to deal with any excesses that the holding will start to produce. For us June marks the time of excess. This excess should increase throughout the summer untill late
September or early October.

This four months of plenty is ideal for the smallholder that doesnt like waste. As it is this waste that will help produce your pork and bacon for the coming year.
I can hardly think of something so useful to the family that can be achieved in such a short period, just sixteen weeks.

Once the days start to shorten and cool, you know that the pigs will soon move to the freezer, as will ours at the end of the month.
One less job for the cold winter months. It is very easy feed young piglets, but as they grow so do their appetites. Ours currently take a great deal of feeding, waste from the holding supplemented with rolled oats. They do very well on surplus milk and whey, a great source of protein.

Pigs can be kept outdoor on 'grazing' or in a pigsty. We have chosen to keep ours in a concrete pigsty, as we have found them to be masters in escaping!

They are very easy to keep once you design and build an efficient pigsty. If done correctly, they will only need twice daily feeding and weekly washing down the toilet area.
They are very clean, as regards where they go to the toilet. They will choose a spot away from where they sleep and eat so as to keep those areas clean.

You can throw all waste garden material like lawn cuttings and waste vegetables into them and they will gladly turn it into manure for the compost heap.
During winter we empty out the compost heap onto the veg bed and as a result we have wonderful soil.
While I think that pigs are wonderful animals, I am also very aware that they would gladly knock me over. I would never allow the children or dogs into the pigsty as I have seen them eat a chicken and a magpie while alive on different occasions. The birds were helping themselves to the pigs dinner and the pigs helped themselves to the birds! Worrying! They really do have powerful jaws!
But damn they are tasty...salami..yum!


  1. I have nothing but praise for pigs, we kept a breeding stock of Large Blacks and Middle Whites, they lived in grassed paddocks and overwintered in the barn. I would always let small children in with ours (supervised of course) and they were as gentle as could be with them, the pigs that is, the children tended to be rough!!

    We also had our chickens free ranging in with the pigs if they wanted to wander over there and none of them were ever eaten, in fact they ate out of the pigs troughs on many occasion and nipped in and out of the arks, in fact some nights they were known to roost in there if they had been locked out of the henhouse. It worked out for us.

    I do like the idea of a specifically built concrete sty and in fact we are going to build one very similar to yours (which is an excellent design by the way) for use on the edge of our woodland, but our pigs will always have access to the outdoors.

  2. That is really interesting. How do will you have them in? Fencing and electric?

    I have a idea / design to chance the pig sty so life would be easier for us but I am not sure off fencing. As our polytunnel is in bits, I am thinking of redesigning the veg garden. Of building 3-4 veg garden plots next to the pigs and running the pigs in there when I need harvesting, weeding, manuring and digging. It would require cutting out an extra gate in the sty and designing secure veg pens that I don't have to worry about them escaping. But it would remove so much work for me and give the pigs more enjoyment.
    What are your thoughts ?


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