5 things to know before you get pigs


Pigs are smart, engaging livestock, and they taste great too, but it pays to prepared for their specialist requirements before you take delivery.

Words: Nadene Hall

All pigs making great pets and excellent eating, although you need to feed them carefully to stop them being too fatty. Heritage breeds tend to grow more slowly than the large pink pigs specifically bred for the commercial pig farm.

Do you have?:

– good fencing (and a good electric fence unit to go with it)?
– a draught-free, dry shelter/s?
– access to cheap/free food?
– Separate facilities for a farrowing sow?
– somewhere to keep the boar separated from a sow and young piglets?

You’re not going to enjoy being a pig owner if you don’t have some basic facilities and really good fencing. Pig experts we spoke to all agreed that you will need to have hot wires on the inside of your fences 30cm off the ground. If you are going to have piglets, then you’ll need another wire at the 15cm mark to stop them ducking under it. Little piglets can run really fast.

A pen to keep a farrowig sow needs to be as robust. Even a small a female Kunekune is easily over 100kg and a boar can be up to 200kg. Other breeds can up to twice that weight, so you get an idea of why fences need to be robust.

Pigs need protein, although kunekunes don’t need as much as other breeds and can get most of their feed needs met by grazing. Remember, any food containing protein or that has been in touch with protein must (by law) be cooked for an hour before feeding to pigs.

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A pregnant sow will need supplementary food and so will growing piglets, so have you got a plan in place to do this (ie daily collection of leftovers from a grocery store, fruit and vege shop or café?).

Are you ready for a boar? They can move quite quickly, have large tusks and – if you’re not confident around pigs – be quite frightening. Think of a boar as you would a bull and be cautious in your dealings with them.

Never have any pig with small animals (ie kids, calves, lambs, poultry) as they can and will eat them if they get an opportunity – pigs are omnivores.
Pigs are wonderful livestock, very engaging creatures and make delicious meat but as with any other breed, you need to be prepared with good facilities and be able to meet their nutritional needs.

NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.

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