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Buying and Starting with Pigs

Afbeelding: Tamworth-Two-small

Before making a decision on the type of breed you choose, it is worth thinking about why you want to keep pigs. People keep pigs for different reasons; Pedigree breeding, breeding to sell weaners (baby pigs or piglets), breeding and fattening for the table and of course, pigs can be kept as pets.

As this guide is not aimed at commercial pig keepers, you will probably only have a small number of pigs to look after. Once you have decided on the breed, contact the relevant Pig Society (listed on the Useful Contacts page) to discuss your options and obtain any advice you may need to get started.

If you’ve chosen to start with piglets it may be worth remembering that whilst they are small, they are boisterous! They are also very strong - even at a young age, and will probably bolt at the first opportunity (remember The Tamworth Two!).

The benefits of acquiring registered stock

  • Traceability – if you intend to buy a pure-bred, there is no guarantee that it actually is a pure-bred, unless you can trace it back. Ensure the pig and the breeder are both registered.
  • Financial reward – buying stock that it is registered breeding stock means you can ask for more money when selling the piglets on.
  • Disease exemption – having registered pedigree pigs will allow you to qualify for exemptions should there be a disease outbreak.
  • Conservation – buying a pure-bred will ensure the conservation of traditional breeds - so they do not die out.
  • Meat-marketing schemes – some countries have meat-marketing schemes that are available to producers of registered pure-bred pigs and they enable producers to sell their registered carcases to butchers who have also chosen to be part of the scheme. EG Rare Breeds Survival Trust has a Traditional Meat Marketing Scheme.

Checklist for buying pigs

Use the internet, agricultural newspapers and publications and specialist smallholder magazines for pig contacts. Here are a few tips when buying pigs;

  • Try to buy in early or late spring.
  • Where possible, buy from a breeder - avoid buying at auction, livestock markets or simply ‘over the telephone’.
  • Try to view litters before too many of the piglets have been sold.
  • Assess the current environment of the pigs / piglets.
  • Check for good health and temperament.
  • Check the pigs’ earmarks, documentation and registration.
  • Go with your initial impression when selecting your pigs.
  • Apply for a Country Parish Holding (CPH) number from the Rural Payments Agency (Click here