Pig Farming is a challenge! But if you do it right, you can reap the benefits. There are many challenges when it comes to pig farming, but when you get it right you can make a proper living out of it. Although, this type of farm does not do well with backyard farming due to many factors that we will discuss below.
Why Backyard Pig Farming won't work:
There are multiple reasons why a pig farm cannot work in a residential area. While many of the other types of farming can work on smaller areas like plots, pigs are a different story.
With this type of livestock you will need ample space and time due to the following reasons:
Pigs breed fast.
This means that your number will increase rapidly and you will need enough space and food for the small piggies. On average, the litter size per well-fed pig is 10 piglets. Each sow (female pig) can produce two litters of piglets per year.
That means, if you have two or three sows, you can increase your livestock by 6 in only one year.
Therefor, you need to be prepared to either sell the piglets, have enough capital to increase the pig pen size and feed all the piglets, or be prepared to take many of your pigs to the slaughterhouse.
Pigs are smelly
No matter how many times a day you clean out the pig pens, these animals give off a unique stench most of the time. Therefore, farming with them and living in close proximity to them will be difficult for you and the people around you. Because of this, we highly recommend starting the farm and building the pig pen far away from your living area.
While you might not think about it often, pigs do make a lot of noise. Especially when there are piglets involved. Therefore, for your own sake, it is important to have a healthy distance between you and the pig pen.
Attention and Time
While many livestock animals take special care of their young, pigs aren’t necessarily one of them. Unfortunately the sows often trample or lay on their little ones. Therefore, you need to constantly check on the piglets and make sure that they are healthy and not injured. When the piglets get to a certain age they need to be separated from the mother as the mother may become violent and kill her own offspring.
These are only a few things that needs to be considered when you start a pig farm.
Types of Pigs in South Africa
When it comes to pig farming in South Africa, you have a choice between 4 of the most common breeds:
Large White, SA Landrace, Duroc, Kolbroek. We will briefly discuss some of the characteristics of each breed.
Large White Pigs
This pig breed is a very popular one as it can cross breed with other pigs. Additionally they have a long life, with a healthy reproductive lifespan . They produce high quality meat and bacon! Although, it is important to have a very large area for these pigs as they become very large.
SA Landrace Pigs
These are some home-grown beauties. The South African Landrace pigs are indigenous to SA. Therefore, they can easily adapt to the environment in South Africa. They are disease and heat tolerant, but are mostly used for subsistence farming in SA.
These pigs originated in the U.S. They have extremely juicy and tender meat due to their build. Therefore, they are ideal for commercial pig farming for meat.
These piggies are the smallest of all four pigs mentioned. “The Kolbroek is known as a good forager and efficient converter of high-roughage rations” – AgriBusiness
Pig Pen Designs
Pigs are big animals. This means that they need enough space to grow and be happy! Therefore, the following dimensions are usually recommended:
- Each pig requires about 4m² of pen space (including the sleeping area, about one-third of the pen).
- The total pen area for ten pigs should be about 40m² (4m x 10m).
Ideally, you would want to build your pen on a concrete surface that is easy to clean. However, if funds are tight, you can get away with building your pen on a slightly downward slope to allow the water to naturally run off. similar to the cattle pen/kraal that we discussed previously.
Another thing about pigs, is that they are strong, and they have a tendency to bite things to find an escape route. Therefore, we suggest that you get gates made out of solid steel. Furthermore, using CCA Treated Timber is your most affordable option when looking at building a DIY pig pen.
You will need the strongest CCA Treated Timber that you can get for your corner posts and support posts.
Therefor, we recommend using anything from 175mm to 224mm Treated Poles for your main support posts and continue using the bigger sizes to construct the enclosures.
Here are some links to free, useful tips on how to build your pigsty:
Building Materials for Pigsty/ Pig Pen
As mentioned above, there are many things to consider when building a pig pen. It is important that you include:
- Strong Corner Posts
- Durable Timber
- Enough shade for pigs to live comfortably
At Sabie Poles, we have CCA Treated Timber that is perfect for agricultural construction projects such as this. Some of the items we can recommend using when building a pigsty / pig pen: