This winter was a tough one for anyone raising hogs. A virus has been spreading around the country killing piglets on many large farms. That has left a shortage of piglets for farms like ours that don’t breed our own. After this spring’s search for enough to fill our pork orders, I’m re-thinking my reluctance to farrow on farm.
We picked up these two long haired beauts at a small farm East of Cavalier that also raised a miniature beef cattle breed (low land Angus, I think) horses and were looking into adding chickens to their mix. This boar (Camo) and gilt (Jackson) have been rooting from the beginning and are loving their new home. Yes, they came with names!
We had to get our pigs from two different farms, since we couldn’t find the six we needed from pasture based farms. These little guys came from a local CAFO. It was our last choice, but they seem to be loving the pastured life! They are learning to wallow and root in the soil like champs. They came with docked tails, a bummer because pigs use their long tails for swatting flies. Though, wallowing in mud helps with that. In confinement, hogs will chew each other’s tails because of stress/aggression. Docking tails makes them more sensitive, so the chew-ee won’t allow the chew-er to continue the behavior. On pasture, the animals have enough space to get away from each other and is a lower stress situation so that tail biting is generally not an issue.
We were a bit worried about integrating hogs from different farms, especially because there is a bit of a size/age difference. So far, that fear is unfounded. It seems that the long hairs are teaching the pink boys to embrace their instinctual behaviors. The little pinks will, hopefully, get the others to embrace the nipple water-er that allows us to keep the hog’s drinking water clean.
Right now the pigs are in a mostly un-used area of the farm, tucked between our quonset, winter chicken coop and our grain bins. Soon they’ll move out into our wooded area, where they will help to clear old brush.