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New to pigs, might be getting some soon.

4187 Views 12 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  halfchance
So my dad and I are thinking about getting pigs, we know what kind we want to get (American Guinea Hogs). I was just wondering if they need any special care or anything? Thanks
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A rare breed ...

I've only read about them in passing, best of luck and keep us posted.
halfchance why that breed? What have you heard about them that makes you think of getting them?
Well we know a guy who has quite a few, and they are just the sweetest pigs too
(In our area) A rare breed comes with a very high price tag.
Well we know a guy who has quite a few, and they are just the sweetest pigs too
Is he offering you a deal on them? Did you ask why he raises them?
I would suggest just getting some feeder weaner pigs in the spring and not worrying too much about what breed. Get your feet on the ground with infrastructure (water, housing, fencing, etc), learn from them about how to care for pigs and then in the future think about specific breeds.

Note that there can be a great difference between the lines of pigs within any breed. How their recent generations of ancestors were selected, raised, managed and fed makes a big difference in how they will be.

Ideally buy piglets from someone raising them the same way you want to do it - e.g., if you want to pasture them then get the piglets from someone who is pasturing them since then they should be adapted. Gives you a leg up.
I agree with that, most of the time I get outside pigs to raise outside, a couple times I got inside pigs and drug em home to live outside, they never did stop urinating inside the barn, drove me nuts, I had to clean out the barn daily and put fresh straw for them to ruin
He's raising them the way we want to. We know him really well, and he actually is offering us a very good deal because of that. I care about what breed because I really like the colors and size of this breed.
What's the difference in how he is raising them, and the usual way of raising them? Since you said he was raising them the way you want to, it made me wonder about the different ways.
What's the difference in how he is raising them, and the usual way of raising them? Since you said he was raising them the way you want to, it made me wonder about the different ways.
Great question! I was wondering the same thing.
it made me wonder about the different ways.
Conventional Confinement pigs are raised in concrete pens indoors typically with a floor drainage system which gets hosed down to a liquid manure collection system. They are generally fed a corn/soy based commercial feed with antibiotics and dewormers to deal with the crowded conditions.

Penned or Dry lot pigs get the same sort of feed but our outdoors with housing that varies from small sheds to large hoop barns. This includes outdoor penned pigs. The smaller the pen the more it moves towards the above Conventional rather than outdoor Dry lot even if it is outdoors.

Pastured pigs break down into two sub-classes with a spectrum between them. All pastured pigs are on actual green pastures and woods which they may roam about and eat. They are managed with rotational grazing - otherwise the pasture will turn into a dry lot if small enough or just be weedy range if large enough:
Grain Fed pastured pigs get a conventional feed which makes up most of what they eat but at least they're outdoors on pasture and not just a dry lot. This might be the conventional commercial hog feed based on corn/soy or some other grain.
Pasture fed pigs get most to all of their diet from the pasture. They may get some or no commercial feed or grain. It's a spectrum from grain to pasture.

I think that pretty much covers the range of raising pigs - chime in if you think I missed one.

So why you might ask does it matter what the breeder does compared with what you want to do?

We raise pastured pasture fed pigs who eat a diet of pasture/hay+dairy getting the vast majority of their diet from pasture. Since we breed our own stock and have selected for over a decade for the traits that work with pasturing our pigs do very well on pasture. As a result our pigs probably have significantly longer digestive tracts than pigs raised for corn/soy diets. This lets them extract more food value from a rougher pasture diet and makes our pigs better for our situation.

On the other hand, a confinement feeding lot operator would not like our pigs because ours would do things like bar biting (frustration over lack of nesting materials) that don't fit a factory confinement operation. These things are bred out by the factory farms.

Another example trait is we select for winter animals, those that can put on a layer of back fat to get them through our cold winters. This means they're very hairy - something factory farms don't like - and on a high calorie corn/soy diet our pigs will put on more fat than the conventional pig farmer would want. On our pasture diet they put on the perfect 0.75" to 1" of back fat that we need for our market on our farm in our climate.

We also breed for longer legs. Conventional and dry lot farms would not want that as they view the longer legs as wasted but here on our mountains, steep fields with lots of rocks it helps to have more agile pigs.

If you're in Texas or some other sunny place then dark skinned pigs might be important to you if you're raising outdoors on pasture in order to avoid sunburn. Many things vary with the climate.

There are lots of little details like this that one can adjust in a pig to make it fit one or another management system. Each management system, from factory farms to mountain pastures has different needs.


-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
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He raises pastured pigs. I prefer that because I believe the pigs are happier like that.
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