Cold weather requires some planning for any homesteader raising hogs for meat. In the area of proper nutrition, thought and extra effort must be given to available supplies of fresh ice-free water at all times for all classes of hogs—the piglet, the weanling, growing/finishing, gestating and the lactating sow.
When raising hogs for meat, here are some considerations for water consumption: The growing-finishing pig will require roughly two to 2-1/2 pounds of water for every pound of feed consumed. The gestating and lactating sow will require 4-1/2 to six gallons per day. Watering equipment that will continue to flow during below zero weather is a must.
A daily supply of fresh palatable feed sometimes becomes a problem during extremely cold conditions when raising pigs for meat. Ice forms in feeder cups, feed will not flow from feeders properly, and pigs are automatically placed on a limited ration, leading to restricted weight gain.
In addition to learning what can pigs eat, you need to learn the most efficient way for them to consume that food. Another problem is if you overload a feeder allowing too much feed. Pigs become wasteful and the feed is pushed out onto the ground. Every 10 pounds of feed wasted each day amounts to hundreds of dollars each year, and 10 pounds of feed is often wasted each day with a poorly adjusted feeder. Worn-out feeders and overcrowding of feeders also add to the feed loss. Proper adjustment and checking the feeders at least three times per week will usually solve the problem.
Farrowing units must be warm, comfortable and dry. A farrowing house temperature of 70-75°F and a nest sleeping area of 90-95°F for newborn pigs is favored. Newly weaned and growing-finishing pigs must be made comfortable—a chilled pig is a high-cost pig. Wiring, equipment, outlets, and any fuel supply should all be checked, made operative, safe and ready to go during a sudden extreme cold period.
Bedding needs and availability should be considered. The pig in a cold gravity ventilated building will do an outstanding job of converting feed and daily gain if comfortable.
Have a planned program on how to operate if you have a three-day snowstorm and 10-foot snow drifts. Feed, water, bedding, and equipment to remove the snow are all essential.
External parasites are sometimes neglected during the cold weather months just at the time when these parasites are probably most active. Lice and mange control measures should be planned and worked into the schedule of events. Learn about home remedies for lice control for livestock.
Movement of breeding and market hogs during the cold weather requires a little extra protection from the cold wind. Avoid loading pigs up an ice-covered slippery loading chute-pigs that can’t walk when they reach your home or market are of little value.
BONUS: How to Make a Homemade Hog Feeder
A self-feeder for hogs requires less labor than the hand-feeding system. Besides wasting less feed, the pigs have free choice.
The width of a 1” x 6” measures about 5-1/4 inches wide, but the slight difference should have no major bearing on the end result.
The skids may be cut from a 14′ 2 x 4 which will project out at the ends of the feeder. If you bore holes through the skids near the ends, you can hitch the feeder to a tractor or team of horses and drag it to the desired location.
Place the partitions where you wish, depending on the variety and amounts of feed required. Place the roofing over the hinges. Put a separate piece over each door. The piece at the top should lap down onto the door about 1-1/2 to 2”. The adjustable slides allow you to vary the size of the opening from ½ to 3” to accommodate different feeds.
(No. of pieces – lumber length – dimensions – use)
Two – 12’ – 2” x 10” – Matched flooring
One – 12’ – 2” x 4” – Skids
Two – 10’ – 2” x 4” – Rafters and studs
One – 12’ – 2” x 4” – Triangular strips in corners of trough
Fifteen – 12’ – 1” x 6” – Matched flooring (actual measurement: 13/16” x
Five – 14’ – 1” x 6” – Matched flooring for roof
Two – 12’ – 1” x 6” Ridgeboard, side & ends
Two – 12’ – 1” x 6” Slides, triangular blocks, guides for slides, cleats for
• Lumber for desired cross partitions
• 62 sq. ft. roofing paper
• 6 heavy strap hinges
• 1 pound 10d nails
• 2-1/2 pound 6d nails
• Four 2-1/2” bolts with thumb nuts
Originally published in 2003 and regularly vetted for accuracy.