Raising pigs is relatively inexpensive and they are a great addition to your backyard ranch. When you raise your own pigs for 4H, market or slaughter, you are in control of what they are fed, how they are raised and how they are butchered. The meat from one adult hog can last a family of four almost an entire year.
- “pig” is a young animal
- “hog” is adult animal
- “barrow” is a neutered male
- “gilt” is a young female
- “sow” is a adult female
- “boar” is an adult, intact male
Pigs enjoy human interaction and are very smart. They enjoy playing with tires, bowling balls and rubber feed pans. They also enjoy playing in the water hose on hot summer days. See our pig facts page for more.
Raising Pigs For Market
Things to consider before adding pigs to your backyard
1) Pig prospect, also see pig breeds page.
2) Feed availability, quality and quantity. See our pig feeders page for ideas.
3) Strong fencing in the pig pens, pigs tend to “root” under fencing or pigs can be free range.
4) Clean, fresh water source (a homemade hog waterer made from a recycled 50 gallon barrel with a Trojan Model 33 Pressure Waterer works very nice.
5) Shade, hog sheds and bedding, depending on your season.
6) Animal maintenance such as: vaccinations, fly control and de-worming.
7) Transportation, a trailer for market and emergency purposes.
The most common breeds of pigs for 4H, market and slaughter are: American Landrace, American Yorkshire, Berkshire, Chester White, Duroc, Hampshire, Poland China and Spots. All things considered, there is not a “super breed” of pig. Your best bet is to pick a healthy, alert, active growing pig to start with. Growing pigs are considered to be 40-125 pounds. Finishing pigs are 125 to over 230 pounds.
Raising Healthy Pigs
Shelter is very important for raising pigs. Pigs do not have sweat glands and overheat easily. Ideal temperature for finishing hogs is 60 degrees. Ideal temperature for growing pigs is 70 degrees. Pigs will need overhead shelter , bedding and windbreak in cooler temperatures. Pigs white in color may need sun protection and will get sunburned easily, shade, misting or bathing with cool water in higher temperatures.
Space is important for pigs. Crowded pigs are stressed pigs and stressed pigs are sick pigs. Pigs normal body temperature is 102.5 degrees. Any variance in body temperature of 2 degrees either way and veterinarian evaluation will be needed. Pigs are susceptible to pneumonia and bronchitis with their long body cavities and laying on their sides to rest. See more about raising pigs on our feeder pigs page.