Pig Tales, Volume 3

Even though Frank and I are still a little cautious around the pigs, they have become a welcome addition to our homestead. I am very pleased with the demeanor of our American Guinea Hogs. They have some little quirks that we are slowly trying to shape more to our liking, though. Like taking the end of our shoes in their mouth when we enter the pasture. I still haven’t figured out if it is a greeting or a taste test. Either way, I really don’t like it. I keep picturing Lance, full grown at around 200 pounds wanting to ‘taste test’ my shoe. With my foot in it. I really don’t relish that idea at all.
 

Lance


Then there is Liberty. She like to run right behind me when I am walking to the feed pan, and bump my back foot as I pick it up to take the next step. I also picture her full grown around 180 pounds. She could easily trip me and make me fall. On the ground is somewhere I do not want to be in a pig pen.

Liberty


Then this evening when Frank went in the pasture to feed the pigs, one of the barrows bit the back of this leg. That didn’t go over too well, and he received a correction with a shoe. This is one behavior that will not be tolerated. We need to be able to go into the pasture without the risk or fear of being bit. We don’t want to raise pigs with unacceptable behavior due to our ignorance of normal pig behavior since we haven’t raised them before. There is still a lot to learn.

When I went to the pig pasture to take pictures for this article, the pigs were down at the pond. I was hoping they would be. The first one surprised me by coming up over the pond bank. One by one they all came over to see me expecting to be fed, even though I have never fed them in this location. It’s just that most of the time when they see me it is feeding time. It took them a while to figure out that there was no food forthcoming.

 

What the pigs showed me were the trails they have created through the tall grass and weeds around the pond. Some are right at the edge of the water and some are farther out into the vegetation.

I was pleasantly surprised when one of the trails took me right past these beautiful flowers. Does anyone know what this is? All I know is that it is a three foot tall weed that I truly enjoyed. It is as close to blue as any flower I’ve seen.

After I made it around the pond to the far side the pigs lost interest in following me. That’s when they showed me where their wallow is located. I don’t think I would have ever figured it out if they hadn’t shown me.

At first, the pigs would wallow on the west side of the pond closest to the barn, but there wasn’t any shade. Now they have found shade on the south side of the pond in the form of these tall, grassy weeds. Pretty smart if you ask me. The water is shallow there, and the grass provides the shade they need. 

The pigs are now 4 1/2 months old, and growing nicely. Most pigs would be much bigger than these by now, but since our pigs will only reach about 200 pounds, they are doing well. According to everything we’ve read and the folks we’ve talked to, Liberty should be coming into heat in about a month and a half. I hope they all get along during that time since we are not planning on separating them until she is ready to farrow.

Our biggest fear in getting the pigs was that they would get out. That hasn’t happened and they don’t seem inclined to even try as far as we know. They are comfortable with their territory and seem to get around quite well. I don’t think they will ever run out of things to eat. This pasture could hold many more pigs, but we don’t plan on having more than one breeding pair, with two to four barrows on the hoof awaiting the dinner table. There will be piglets around from time to time, but we will sell the extras when they are eight weeks old and ready to wean.

Liberty


Lance


Having piglets will be the next big step for us. If that goes well, I guess we will officially call ourselves pig farmers. And goat farmers. And chicken farmers. And vegetable farmers. I guess that makes us homesteaders. It’s who we are. There’s no place like home.

Until next time – Fern

26 thoughts on “Pig Tales, Volume 3

  1. Sorry about your inconvenient encounter. If anything like that ever occurs at our home, that animal will leave that day, either alive or dead. The pigs are still an experiment for us. Some experiments work and some don't. We are also are still in the early learning stages of dealing with pigs. Time will tell. But we don't allow any animals to hurt anybody. Thanks for the comment.Frank

  2. Hi, SFG. I hope the small end of the small baseball bat works well. It's intent is not to induce pain, but it can be used for that if necessary. It's used to just encourage the pigs to keep their distance. We would do the same thing if it were puppies pulling on our pants leg. Or goats jumping up on us. Or dogs jumping up on us. These are behaviors that we do not allow, and we don't see any point in starting now.On a different note. My dog will go in the pig pasture when I make her, but she really doesn't care much for being around pigs. She will go in the pasture. She's a good dog. Take care.Frank

  3. Sandy, it is a pretty flower and we don't know definitively what it is. But some day in the future we'll figure it out. Maybe, maybe not.The pigs do appear to learn quickly and that's good for us and the pigs. It is our responsibility to train them, and if we don't or can't then we shouldn't have them. As mentioned before, so far, so good.Frank

  4. Well, Vickie, if they were ever going to escape, they should have done it when they were smaller. Their dietary needs apparently are being met. They like the pond, they like being fed, and I really hope they work out. So far, so good, with some minor modifications. Thanks for the comment.Frank

  5. Hi, Everett. I certainly agree with you. They do follow us when it is feeding time, and that's okay. What's not okay is them nipping at our shoes and pant legs, but they appear to learn quickly. Biting and snipping will not be tolerated. I don't care if it's an innate pig behavior. You see, I support Darwin's theory of natural selection. Either they will adapt to our farm rules, or they will not live here. It's that simple. Thank you for your recommendations.Frank

  6. Fiona, we certainly support that concept. There is no need to wait for a bad behavior to get out of hand. It's not cute in the long run. The pig pasture is just less than two acres. Hope things are going well your way. It is 109* here today. Frank

  7. Hi, Kimberly. We're trying to raise healthy, happy pigs. It's only been about three months now since they came to live here. Sad as it is, but if the pigs don't work out, then they will go to pig heaven. Hopefully it won't come to that any time soon. Thank you for your comment.Frank

  8. Hello, N.C. A year or so back we used a short baseball bat on a cantankerous billy goat, and it worked quite well. Well, actually it's a t-ball bat, and we have resurrected it's use as a very gentle tool to train our baby pigs. We hold the fat end of the bat and very gently tap the pigs when necessary. For the time being it seems to work quite well. We would much rather stop unacceptable behavior at a young age, than trying to correct unacceptable behavior when the pigs are a lot larger. I would like for the pigs to be about four months older before we butcher one of them, but we could butcher one earlier if need be. Thank you for your comment.Frank

  9. Thank you for the idea, Adrienne. I looked up Jacob's Ladder and balloon flower and I don't think it's either. But now I know what these two flowers look like. Thank you for sharing.Fern

  10. I looked up balloon flower, Deb, and I don't think that's it. So far the pigs are responding well to our new training. It will take a while, but I think we will be able to manage their behavior, or at least I hope so. Thank you for the ideas.Fern

  11. I haven't had time to look for anything about the flower, C.M. There are many beautiful weeds in our pastures that bloom at different times. Some of them the animals will eat and some they won't. I'm sorry I've been so slow to respond this time. Sometimes life gets in the way. Thank you for sharing.Fern

  12. I am glad that you are being more cautious about the pigs. Their biting and bumping are not friendly behaviour traits, they are testing their limits. Pigs are sneaky, so make sure that you can get over the fence before they can reach you, if they have a mind to attack.When we visited a friend with wild boars, one young fellow, he must have been three months of age, attacked my husband's legs…..my husband grabbed a handy 2 x 4 board and whacked it on the head several times and that boar kept on coming, so my husband thought it would be best to run into our friend's home….he did manage to outrun it over the 50 yards distance.Then it turned and came down the road towards me. I can't run very fast. And I knew that I could be in trouble. I hollered to the owner for help, but he couldn't see what was going on, and told me not to worry. So I grabbed some handfuls of gravel from the road, and when it came near, threw one into its face. That stopped him. Then I yelled at the owner again. The boar tried charging a second time. By this time, his farm hand came around the corner, saw what was going on and really gave the boots to that pig.Later on, at coffee, I told him that if his piglet had attacked a stranger and ripped up his leg as he did my husband's, he would have been sued.I still love pigs, but I also would never turn my back on one. They are real characters, especially when young, but as they get older, perhaps they have it in them to re-establish a pecking order.

  13. Fern, and Frank,It sounds to me like you're teaching your pigs to understand whose the boss on the farm with a bit of discipline, and that's a good thing. You don't want a pig biting you or knocking you over. Stand your ground!!!! LOL……The blue flower looks like a prairie jewel of some sort. Hugs,Sandy

  14. Best thing you can do with pigs is to NOT let them get behind you! They will always come up and give you a bump or two to see what happens. If nothing does, next thing will be a \”grasp in the ass\” or a leg!!

  15. How big is the pig field? As to the nipping…I think Frank's firm quick reprimand was just right. They learn quickly as you know but I always felt that quick discipline applied firmly and then ignored until needed again is best.

  16. This worked for me on a 9 month old bottle fed Jersey heifer with horns. She had been raised like a pet and like to rub her head up the outside of my thigh to get pats an attention.Ouch! No bounder-es had been set for her-soo I got a stout stiff 2 foot wire-tied a one foo2 inch wide ribbon on the end. When I went in the pen I would play the ribbon over her back and head/nose (you get the idea). As she started on me with the head and horns; she got a sharp rap on the nose with the wire. Not knowing where it came from she backed off-I don't think she ever figured out the correction came from the soft ribbon. I'm bruise free-mostly. But then again pigs are smarter.

  17. The plant could also be Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium (Polemonium Caeruleum Blue), although balloon flower is also a possibility. It's hard to say without seeing more of the foliage.

  18. The flowers look like the plant may be balloon flower. I have two that were given to me of the same color. Apparently they also come in pink. Mine are prolific bloomers.

  19. i think it's a balloon flower?talk to a pig keeper but possibly an electric prod set very low and touch it to their noses when unacceptable behavior occurs. they are very intelligent and will catch on quickly.pig keeper will tell you what disincentive to use that won't hurt them or make them vicious.

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