Starting with Pigs

Rearing pigs can be a very rewarding and enjoyable venture. If you’re thinking of rearing pigs on your holding there are several crucial factors to consider before you buy your first weaners. Here's our basic guide.

Smallholder Feeds
Smallholder Pig
Getting started with pigs 2048x1024 - ForFarmers UK
1. Legal requirements

Before bringing any pigs to your smallholding, it’s essential to be familiar with the legal requirements.

2. Site

Think carefully about where you will site your pigs. Are there any close neighbours who may complain about smell in the summer months? Also consider the soil type of the area you plan to keep them on – ideally it will be well-drained so that it won’t become too wet and muddy.

3. Housing and space

Pigs need adequate space and proper housing to thrive. A well-ventilated, but draught-free ark will be one of your biggest outlays so do some research to find one that is sturdy and big enough for the number of pigs you plan to have. Outdoors, pigs need a spacious paddock allowing around 20 square metres per pig to ensure they have enough room to exhibit natural behaviour. Rooting can be beneficial for land management – improving soil fertility and dealing with weeds – but can also lead to soil erosion and damage to vegetation if not managed properly through rotational grazing.

3. Feeding and nutrition

As with all Farmgate feeds, our Sow and Weaner Nuts and Rolls, Pig Rearer (for growing pigs) and Traditional Grader (finisher ration) are formulated to meet a pig’s nutritional needs at different stages. Check the packaging for information on quantities to feed according to the age and size of your animals. You should not supplement the pig’s diet with household scraps or waste as this is illegal and can spread disease. Always ensure that pigs have access to clean, fresh water.

4. Health and welfare

Check your pigs at least twice a day. This way you will pick up on any early signs of problems or disease such as changes in appetite, behaviour or appearance. Do some research to find a local vet who has experience with pigs and have their contact details to hand should you need them.

5. Breed choice and sourcing pigs

Choosing the right breed is important and will depend on your specific goals, whether for meat production, breeding, or as pets. Traditional breeds like the Gloucestershire Old Spot or Tamworth are ideal for smallholdings due to their hardiness and temperament. Look for a reputable breeder to ensure they are healthy and have been well cared for.

6. Cost considerations

Think about the costs involved with setting up and looking after your pigs. Initial costs include housing, fencing and any other equipment. Ongoing costs then include feed and veterinary care.

Keeping pigs is a significant commitment but rewarding and fun! Making sure you are well-informed and prepared, will mean that you can create a healthy and productive environment for your pigs.

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