Feeding and Housing for Pigs
The pig is omnivorous and can eat meat and plants. The digestive system of the pig can also use bulky feeds containing a lot of roughage. Pigs must have plenty of clean, fresh water every day.
Types of feed to give to pigs
Pigs will eat anything. They will eat grass and all types of plants. They can be kept in a well fenced field where they will eat all of the plants and grass there. The pig not only eats the green parts of plants but will also dig into the ground and eat all the roots. A pig with a nose ring cannot root up plants.The pig’s eating habit can be used by man. If a pig is put in a field it will clear it, plough it and fertilize it.
Pigs will grow and get fat more quickly if they are fed concentrate feed. Grain which has been well ground into meal is a good feed. Waste vegetables and household scraps can also be given to pigs. Household scraps, especially those containing meat, must be well boiled (pig swill) before being given to the pig. The pig must always be able to drink fresh clean water. A sow with young will need 20 – 30 litres of water a day.
How often will a pig need feeding ?
Pigs can be kept in a sty when they will need to be fed twice a day with one feed in the morning and one in the evening. Pigs in the field can be offered meal once a day or given extra feed, e.g. vegetable waste or swill, when it is available.
Piglets show an interest in solid feed when they are 1 or 2 weeks old. They can be offered a handful of cereal, sugar or powdered milk to start with. Piglets will take milk from the mother until they are about 7 weeks old. They will gradually take less milk and eat more solid feed until they are weaned. Piglets in the field will naturally start to eat solid feed but it must be offered to those that are housed. The young animals need to be gradually given new feed to avoid digestive problems.
Remember that a pig should rush to eat its feed. Lack of interest in feed is a sign of ill health and you will need to look at the animal to determine the cause of health problems.
Housing for Pigs
Pigs can be kept in a field where there is a shelter or they can be kept in a pig sty. Pigs should not be allowed to wander about free. There will be no control over what they eat or where they go and disease will spread.
Keeping pigs in a field
Wild pigs live amongst bushes and the roots of tress. When pigs are kept with access to a warm, low area to lie and sleep in, as they would in the wild, the pigs do better. Pigs can be kept in a field where they can feed on grasses and plants. If pigs are kept this way, the field must be surrounded by either a strong fence or a wall. Pigs will push their way out of a field if the fence is not strong enough. The animals are given shelters called pig arks to sleep in. These can be made of wood or metal sheets and should contain bedding. The arks can be moved to fresh ground when necessary.
Housing and Pens for pigs
Pigs can be kept alone or in small groups in a pig sty, a concrete or solid floored pen with a low shelter. When building a sty you should choose an area which is never flooded in the rainy season. It should not be too near to houses so that smells and flies are a nuisance. The floor should be concrete and sloping away from the sleeping area so that urine flows out and away. The concrete floor should be laid on a good foundation and will need to be 5 – 6 cm thick. If the concrete is too thin and cracks, the pigs will soon start to dig it up. An earthen floor cannot be kept clean and will lead to problems with parasites and other diseases. The walls of the sty need to be fairly smooth so that they can be kept clean. Cracks in the walls will allow dirt and germs to accumulate.
The animals should be given plenty of bedding in the shelter. Pigs will always dung away from their sleeping and feeding areas. The dung can be removed every day allowing the pen to be kept clean and avoiding the buildup of waste and smells.
Read also: Planning and construction of pig farm
Housing for piglets
Breeding sows and their litters can be kept in sties or using the open field system. Plenty of bedding should be given to help keep the young animals warm and it must be changed frequently. If a litter is raised in a sty, the sty should be thoroughly cleaned and scrubbed out after the litter has been weaned and moved elsewhere. If a litter is raised in the field, the shelter should be moved to a new site for the next litter to avoid disease problems, especially from parasitic worms, developing.
Whatever the housing method used, piglets should have access to a warm area which the sow cannot reach. This is called a creep and piglets can be given feed here and can lie down without the risk of the mother lying on top of them. The sow is prevented from entering the creep by placing a temporary wall of boards or strong rails across part of the shelter. The bottom rail is about 30 cm from the ground allowing the small piglets to pass under it.
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