There are not a lot of must-have pig farming equipment items for homestead hog raising. Besides the infrastructure needed for almost any livestock, other tools are rarely used. Shelter, secure fencing, and a container to hold plenty of fresh water are the bare bones of hog raising. Adding clean straw bedding will keep the housing cleaner and more sanitary.
When you are learning how to start pig farming, what equipment to purchase is often a question. In reality, our hogs do their thing, and unless there is some unusual circumstance, we don’t spend a lot of time on pig farming equipment for the three breeding hogs we keep on our farm. The sows farrow easily, extra rations are provided for them and we keep a watchful eye on the developing piglets. When not raising piglets, the sows roam the large acreage, rooting, foraging and basking in the sun. Occasionally, a few easily obtained pieces of pig farming equipment have come in handy. These are simple items, available at the local farm supply retailer and some you can easily make from leftover building supplies.
I know pigs are cute. I see ours every day and they do steal my heart with their big eyes and sweet expressions. Pigs can also be erratic and turn on you. You do not want to be bitten by a pig, so it’s always a good idea to have a pig board with you, as you work with your pigs. Even just going into their area to clean up or grab a feed pan can be enough to set off territorial behavior.
A pig board is a large flat barricade that you place between you and the hog. In my opinion, this is a must-have piece of pig farming equipment. You can purchase a pig board from a farm supply retailer or you can make your own. We use a four-foot by four-foot section of sturdy plywood with a hole cut at the top of one edge. This will be the handle. Keep the pig board between you and the mature pig. Even if the pig likes to be scratched, patted, or hand fed, this gives you a moment of safety, should things go wrong.
Hog Snare or Large Fishing Net
When it comes time to wean the piglets or if a mature pig becomes ill or injured, a hog snare can be a huge help. You need patience and practice. Pigs move much faster than I ever expected. After you get the pig where you want it, how will you keep it there while you tend to its wounds or administer medication? Before you become upset at the use of the word snare, I am not referring to the trap snare set to capture wild pigs. A restraining snare is used in addition to the pig board. Have a second person available that knows how to use the snare and can hold the snare firmly while you do the work needed. Work quickly, and do not keep the pig restrained in the snare for long.
For catching small piglets at weaning or for sale, a large fishing net has been an essential item in our pig farming equipment. Our net is large and occasionally it catches two piglets at one time. Secure the piglet and carefully reach under and firmly grab the hind legs, then support the chest area and lift the piglet toward your body to carry it to the pen or travel crate. Before catching piglets, read up on piglet care facts. Do not to grab the piglets by the front feet or to swing them around while carrying.
All animals need minerals. Pigs can obtain some of the minerals they need by rooting in the dirt. To be sure your pigs are getting the right level of all minerals, feeding a mineral supplement is a good idea. Some farmers will mix the minerals into the grain and feed as one ration. When you use pasture as the food source, a separate mineral supplement can be offered. In this case, you may want to invest in a mineral feeder. Using a mineral feeder will cut down on waste. Pigs can eat what they need while the feeder protects the supplement from wet weather, tipping over, or being rooted into the ground. You can place the mineral feeders on the ground, or mount on the wall or fence.
Heat Lamps for Piglets or Sick Pigs
Although we try to have the sows farrow in beautiful spring and fall weather, that is not always the reality. Weather surprises, and sometimes unplanned litters, can throw out all the best plans. Having heat lamps ready can help the piglets survive a cold snap. Heat lamps are always a safety concern when raising piglets. The dry straw in barns and sheds can catch on fire if the lamp falls to the ground. There are newer heat lamp fixtures on the market that have better safety cages around the heat bulb. In this case, I would recommend purchasing the best equipment you can afford. Hang the heat source securely where the animals can’t knock it down. Check it often to make sure it is secure and working properly.
Honestly, we have not had to use hoof trimmers on our pig’s hooves. However, if an injury or overgrown hoof was causing a problem, hoof trimmers would be the safest and fastest way to trim off the excess hoof. Disinfect hoof trimmers between uses to prevent transmitting any bacteria between animals.
Medical first aid equipment should be readily available on any homestead. Don’t waste time running to buy essential equipment when an animal needs assistance. If the veterinarian recommends a medication for your pig, a drenching gun will make the job so much easier.
Adding these six simple pieces of pig farming equipment will have you ready to roll through raising pigs. On our farm, we try to let the pigs be pigs, and raise pigs as naturally as we can. Even so, it’s good to have a few basic pieces of equipment around to help with handling pigs.
What pig farming equipment do you use? Let us know in the comments below.