Keeping Pigs in Winter

I’ve decided that pigs are indestructible.

pigs snow

At least, the 4 that lived through “Snowmageddon” we had here in Kentucky are….

I am learning so much.

This is my first winter with pigs and it has been great.  In case you haven’t noticed, I really don’t know what I am doing.  I don’t have time to read all the books in the library – and let’s face it, real life doesn’t necessarily happen in those books.  I often feel like, “best case scenarios” are presented.  At my house, “best case” is usually not “the case.”

I read a lot of books, articles and blogs and wonder if we are living on the same planet.

Am I the only one?

I think it’s just that we all live in different areas and have different climates.  Some things that work great here may never work where you live.

Likewise, something that works perfect where you are might be a disaster here.  Ya’ know?

Sometimes, I see what is working for someone in their garden & shake my head – because here in Kentucky it wouldn’t work.  Then I notice that the person writing the gardening piece lives in Maine, or somewhere far far from me.  Then it all makes sense.

The internet has brought so many of us together that would have never crossed paths otherwise.

Isn’t that so cool?

I love it.  I love the friends I am making because I started a blog.

 

Anyhow, back to indestructible pigs.  I have not had tons of time to research raising pigs in winter.  I have talked to every pig-guru who walks into the pawnshop.  I also have learned oodles from the pig-guru next door.  Nothing compares with good old fashioned experience.

pigs snow 4

I was told that pigs (the breeds we’ve raised) weren’t built for snow.  That Kentucky winters can be too hard for piggies.  That, in order to keep pigs over winter (around here) they need to have access to a barn/ shed/ or some type of enclosed building to stay warm.  Which we have never had in the pig department.

This has been one of the reasons we raise pigs over the summer.   No pig building necessary.

Well, we kind of accidentally ended up in winter with 4 pigs.

I didn’t know how they’d fare.  I didn’t know if they’d freeze.  I figured we’d give it a try.

I did take some precautions to get them ready for the cold:

  1. I put a front on the pig hutch to keep out the cold and keep in the body heat
  2. I shoved more hay into the hutch than you would think is humanly possible (leaving room for 4 pigs)
  3. I kept 4 pigs (instead of the originally planned 2) so there would be more little bodies to produce heat
  4. I’m feeding them grain.  It’s winter.  It’s cold.  We love to feed our pigs leftover raw milk, veggie scraps and hay; but I want to be sure they have enough substance in those bellies to keep them warm.

Keeping pigs over winter has been easy (so far).  BUT, we are not out of the woods yet.

A few thoughts about keeping pigs over winter:

pig snow 2

Thought #1:  SMELL

OH GLORY!  Praise and Happiness – there is NOOOOOOO Smell!

Yes, the worst part about raising pigs (if you ask me) is BY FAR the odor.  They’re like ferrets:  tons of fun, totally cute,  but oh-me-oh-my do they stink.  It is winter, most things are hard and frozen right now – including all the piggie droppings.

All the cuteness – none of the smell.  Bonus!

Thought #2:  WALLOW

Another fan-tab-ulous thing about pigs in winter is the missing water-feature.

Every grouping of pigs I have ever raised anywhere on our farm has managed to put in an in-ground pool.  It is always amazing.  It is usually bigger than you would have ever dreamed a pig-pool could be.  They love it.  They swim it it.  They lay in it.  They sleep in it.  It keeps them cool and happy on hot July days.  But, boy is it nasty to deal with after the pigs move out.

Wintertime = no in-ground pool.  Hooray!

Thought #3:  MUD

I do not have to wade through squishy, gnarly, stinky, soupy, horrid, 12 inch deep pools of pig defecation in order to feed, water, and care for them.  Thanks to the cold temperatures, the mud is not there and this is so nice for the pig owner.  I’m sure the pigs would like some mud, but I’m gonna enjoy the mud-free pig-land while it lasts.

Oh, this winter pig thing is shaping up quite nicely.

pig snow 5

Thought #4:  FAT

So much for them using up all the energy from their food to stay warm.  My piggies are rounding out quite well, even though it’s frosty outside.  I thought they’d hang out around the same weight since I am feeding them the same amount each day, but they are definitely getting bigger.

The four pigs I have now are 1/2 Juliana micro-mini potbelly.  I thought they’d stay pretty small if I limited their feed.  They aren’t huge, but they are not what I would call “micro-mini.”  This is fine with me.  I am not trying to keep them super small.

I sold a few of the piglets last fall.  One of the piglets went to live with a friend and I get regular updates on her, which is fun.

Her name is “Wee Wee.”  She lives in the house.  She thinks she is a dog.  Wee Wee eats about 1/2 cup of hog feed in the morning and is fed lots of fruits and vegetables throughout the day.  On this diet she has remained tiny and healthy.

Our piggies are outside so they get more to eat than Wee Wee.  Consequently, they don’t even look like they are related to Wee Wee.  They look like they could eat Wee Wee.  They do not look like her litter mates.

Thought #5:  EASY

I know I have mentioned it about a thousand times here on the blog, but I got to say it again.  Pigs are easy.

Easy. Easy. Easy.

All I do is give them food and water once a day (usually mid-morning).

That’s it.

If I want to spend more time with my wittle piggies, I can.  But, if I want to hide in the house until spring – it won’t be the “pig chores” keeping me outdoors.  There just aren’t any.

Because I love my pigs & like to spoil them I do take them “warm tea” (warm water) on super cold days.  I also shove hay into their hutch like a mad-woman because I am terrified one is going to freeze to death.  And that would make me sad.

Of course, turning one into sausage this spring will be perfectly OK with me.  Grin.

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OINK!

Candi

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