5 Reasons to Get More Than One Pig
I just can’t manage to get through a summer without a pig. I think this is my 6th year raising pigs. Or is it 7? I’m not entirely sure. But, it is never less exciting than the first year.
We always get several pigs. The number ranges from 2 to 17 depending on my level of sanity and which year it is.
This year I only have one pig. Her name is Fern.
This little girl, Fern, has stolen our hearts. I do realize this will be a problem in November.
It all started a month ago when I ran out of pork loins. Then I ran out of pork chops. Then the last of the Boston butts and shoulder roasts went into the smoker.
I looked at DH and told him I was going to need pigs after all. I always think that we are going to have enough meat to last us 2 years. But it never seems to make it.
This prompted the visit to the local sale barn. These are also called Livestock Auctions. One takes place not far from our house every Monday. They sell just about any animal you could ever want on your farm. In addition to the farm animals, there’s a snack bar, junk food, friendly people, and plenty of second-hand smoke.
On Monday night we headed to the livestock auction pulling the animal trailer behind DH’s truck. We took our 2 youngest children with us.
When we got there we headed to the back room of the auction house (this is where all the stocks are that hold the animals).
Pigs are not on the roster every week. They sometimes go a month or more without having a pig come through the sale barn. Other weeks they’ll have several. The truth is that pigs usually sell for next to nothing at auction around here, so most folks find other ways to sell a pig.
We walked past the calves, the goats, and the sheep. There were at least 100 sheep going out for sale and most of them were hair sheep. There were as many goats as sheep and they were making all sorts of racket. The cows were in the stocks on the other side of the room but they were also letting everyone know they were there. The mooing was so loud we could hardly have a conversation.
When we got to the back of the holding area, there was one red pig. She was clean (unusual for a pig at the sale barn) and friendly. When I gave her my hand she rubbed it and wanted to me to scratch her ears. I could tell she had been loved.
I went to find someone in charge to find out what was wrong with her. When a farmer sells one pig it usually means there is something wrong with it.
Turns out that a family had brought in a bunch of sheep, a show cow, and one pig. When it was time for their animals to go up for auction, the children came into the ring and ‘showed’ the animals they were selling.
All the goats were sold first. Then came the sheep and last marched out the one pig.
She was beautiful and gentle. I wanted her.
I told DH to get her for me because I loved her.
Unfortunately, the guy sitting behind us also wanted a pig that night.
We went back and forth and the price for the little red pig kept going up.
DH’s face fell and he just kept shaking his head no (as if to say, “I’m gonna regret this.”)
I kept poking him in the side and saying, “Get the Pig. I love her.”
So, DH did what any good husband would do. He bought the overpriced pig.
We have 2 pig paddocks here at the farm. They are both shady, roomy, and filled with life (thanks to the pig fertilizer). One is far from the house (yay, no piggy smell) – but it is isolated from us and all the other farm animals. This has made it the ideal location for my past menagerie of pigs… but it would be terrible for Fern. We didn’t want her to be all alone on the west side of the farm.
So, we put her in our original pig paddock up with the cows, rabbits, and where my kids always play.
She is never alone, but unfortunately, she is upwind from the house. The good news is that her pen is clean and we only have one pig, so it isn’t too smelly.
BUT, Having one pig is can be problematic.
#1 Why You Should Have More Than One Pig – Herds
Pigs are herd animals. They are happier in groups. Herd animals don’t like to be alone and may try to escape from their pens (to be with you or other animals).
#2 Why You Should Have More Than One Pig – Growing
With more than one pig, there is a little, healthy competition for the food. When you give them a bushel of garden scraps, canning leftovers, kitchen scraps or hog feed – they gobble it up. It is practically a race. Milk disappears in minutes and there is never hog feed left in the bottom of the bowl. This is helpful in growing large pigs in a short amount of time.
When there is just one pig, she knows that no one else is going to eat her food and consequently, isn’t quite as excited to scarf it down. Fern’s bowl almost always has food left in the bottom when I feed her. I have never seen this before.
#3 Why You Should Have More Than One Pig – Bonding
As I mentioned, pigs are herd animals. They bond easily with other pigs and like to be in groups. We have combined farm pigs, potbelly pigs and even a micro-mini-exotic pig in the same field and they all got along well.
If there is just one pig, it will bond with you (or whoever is taking care of them). They will happily grunt or squeal anytime you are in their line of sight. They will probably want you to scratch them, talk to them and be their friend.
The excitement and joy I receive when Fern sees me is unlike any other pig I’ve owned. I think it is because she is alone.
#4 Why You Should Have More Than One Pig – Warmth
Body heat is a sure way to keep warm on frosty fall nights.
As the days get shorter and the nights get cooler, Fern will need to find a way to stay warm. She has a new hutch to protect her from the elements that is clean and dry, but I will need to keep it filled with plenty of clean hay when the temperatures begin to drop.
#5 Why You Should Have More Than One Pig – 2 Pigs is Just as Easy as One
The truth is, there is no difference between keeping one or two pigs. There will be an extra mouth to feed (which will cost you more in food) but the chore time and work involved is no more with two.
If you are worried that 2 pigs may be too much meat for your family, sell the second one. It will cover your costs for raising (and processing) them both. You’ll make someone very happy and have a freezer filled with free pork!
Unfortunately, only have Fern this summer. I wanted 2 pigs, but it didn’t work out.
Fern is scheduled to be delivered at my favorite butcher the last week in November. That is going to be a rough day for us both, but for now, I am going to enjoy my big, red girl.