How to Fence in Pigs
It is important to know how to properly contain pigs.
No one wants free-range pigs. Not only is it not fun to chase pigs it is also illegal in most states to let them roam.
We have been raising pigs on our small homestead since 2012. Over the years we have kept pigs in several areas and used a variety of fences.
Today, we are going to discuss the BEST way to keep pigs contained.
First, understand that pigs typically like their homes. As long as they have what they need to be happy and grow, they probably will not try to escape.
The only time we have had pigs get out of their pasture, they were simply rooting for grubs a little too close to the fence-line and found their way to freedom. Interestingly enough, those pigs quickly found their way back into the pasture with the other pigs.
As long as they have food, water, shelter, and plenty of space, pigs usually stay put.
In addition to being homebodies, pigs are also highly intelligent. They are quick to learn and will respect an electric wire within minutes of meeting it.
The first question is do you want to permanently or temporarily keep pigs?
IS PERMANENT FENCING RIGHT FOR YOU?
Before our first pigs arrived, we followed all the rules. We buried the fence 12 inches underground. We used tough woven wire fencing. We even added electric on top of that to be sure our pigs wouldn’t root their way out.
Boy, that was probably overkill.
It worked well and we never had a pig even try to escape Alcatraz. However, we may have gone to a lot of trouble that wasn’t necessary.
Not too long after the building of Piggy Fort Knox, we decided to use our pigs to excavate the future garden plot. The area had been woods and we had no desire to erect a permanent fence around it.
What are Your Goals?
If you plan to keep pigs on your farm for many years to come, and you know where you want them, a more permanent fence is probably a great option.
Things to consider when choosing the location for your pigs –
- Put the pigs downwind from your house. Even with one or 2 pigs, they can get stinky in the heat of summer.
- Don’t stress. If you decide to move your pigs in the future, you can always use the first pig spot to home bottle calves, chickens or other livestock.
- Pick a spot you would like cleared. Pigs are natural excavators. They can and will demolish their entire living space as quickly as possible. The more pigs you have, the faster they can destroy the land. In our experience, even as few pigs as 2 can uproot and turn a quarter acre into mud in a few short weeks. If you get a lot of rainfall, the pigs should have everything totaled in two.
How many hogs do you want to keep?
The more pigs you want to raise, the larger and more involved the pig pasture will need to be. More pigs are capable of more destruction and more likely to get into trouble.
PIG FENCE OPTION 1 – PERMANENT
If you’ve found the right spot and want to dedicate that land to pork production for the next few years, a permanent fence would be great.
Permanent fences are more sturdy, last longer and will not need to be fussed with.
A medium-grid rolled wire fencing is a great option for keeping in pigs. It does not need to be very tall (4-foot high fence will work) because pigs don’t jump.
A pigs main way of escape is usually at the bottom of the fence. Pigs root for a living and for fun. Even if a pig isn’t attempting to escape, the right root or underground delicacy can have him root under and out of a fenced in area in no time.
In order to prevent this, simply add one strand of electric about 6-9 inches above ground-level around the inside of the fence. If the pigs get too close to the fence, they will come in contact with the wire and quickly back away. Once a pig has hit the wire, you can expect him to stay away from then on. Pigs will respect electric and they are fast learners.
PIG FENCE OPTION 2 – TEMPORARY
Do you want to keep pigs in that spot in the future?
If you aren’t sure where to put your pigs, or would like to keep them in a space for one year and try it out, you may just want to go a less permanent route.
WHY BUILD A TEMPORARY FENCE?
- You aren’t sure you like the spot
- You aren’t sure you like pigs
- You want the pigs to build your garden
Gardening with pigs is a great idea. Pigs will clear land, root up all the weeds and fertilize a plot for free. Simply put the pigs on the garden spot this year and tomatoes next!
In cases like this, temporary fencing is a great solution.
In order to contain the pigs, and be able to completely remove the barrier after the pigs went to market, we have employed a very temporary perimeter that worked surprisingly well.
Temporary fences can be built from many different products. Construction fencing, garden fencing, electric net fencing, hog/cattle panels, or even a light-gauge rolled wire fence all make great temporary fences.
Hog panels or cattle panels are surprisingly affordable and easy to set up. Panels can be purchased for under $20 each and are 16 feet long. These can be stabilized with metal fence posts to create a pasture of any size.
CHEAPER THAN PANELS
Using rolled temporary fencing is cheaper than using panels.
Rolled fences include construction fence, garden fence, electric plastic fence and woven wire fences (like cattle or chicken wire).
These rolled fences (along with some powerful wire) is a great way to contain pigs
The year we had 8 pigs (which turned into 17 when one gave birth), this is the concoction (pictured above) we used to keep them contained.
We opted to use plastic construction fence for the perimeter.
The plastic fence was never intended to hold the pigs.
It was merely to give the pigs a visual barrier as to where the pasture stopped.
Pigs do not see well. If you simply expected them to notice a couple of electric wires and never go beyond them, you would probably find yourself chasing pigs.
Although they are smart and will respect an electric fence more than any other animal, they simply may not see it.
Erecting a fence line they can see will help the pigs know where their boundaries are.
You can use construction fencing, garden fencing, electric net fencing, or even a light-gauge rolled wire fence. Each of these options can easily be detached from steaks or posts and rolled up at the end of the season.
The real fence here are the 2 strands of electric wire. One is about 10 inches above the ground and another is 10 inches above that one. The lower wire will prevent rooting and the upper wire is at snout level.
A solar box powers this electric fence for free. This is a great choice because the farmer does not need to run electric to the pasture. Furthermore, solar power is completely free to operate. And, using solar power is a sustainable practice on the homestead.
PIGS IN THE WOODS
A wooded area can make a fantastic home for pigs. This can work out well for the farmer as well, because the trees growing naturally in the area can be used as fence posts, eliminating the work of setting posts.
In order to fence pigs in the woods first mark your pasture. Once you have the spot figured out, clear the fence line. You will need to be able to stretch the fence from tree to tree.
After the visual fence is up, run the electric fence along the inside of it. These step-in fence posts are made for the electric fence. We put our electric a few inches in front of the fenceline.
Find a sunny spot for the solar panel box. Even though the pigs and the pasture is in the woods – the solar box will need to be in the sunshine. Pick a corner or edge of the woodline to place it.
Consider killing the vegetation around the electric wire. Remember that anything which comes in contact with an electric fence will prevent it from working. If you are building a fence in the woods, you will want to be diligent about checking the fenceline regularly to make sure there aren’t any weeds, sticks, or other debris coming in contact with it.
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT ELECTRIC FENCES
In order to gain power, the power box for the electric box must receive plenty of sunlight each day. Be sure to mount the box in a sunny location.
EXPERT TIP: check your electric fence regularly to make sure nothing is preventing it from shocking.
Electric fences are only as good as the power running through them.
When they lose electricity, they lose their power.
For this reason, electric fences should be checked regularly to ensure they are working properly.
Many things can “short out” an electric fence. If there are sticks, piles of leaves, branches or dirt covering the electric wire at any point in the ‘loop’ it will not work.
When we have storms trees, sticks and limbs often fall on fence lines. We walk the fencelines after bad weather to make sure the electric wires are all exposed and unaffected by objects.
Pigs love to root and can turn up an amazing amount of dirt in a short period of time. I have walked fencelines to find 2 feet of electric wire buried under a pile of dirt – courtesy of rooting piggies.
WEEDS & GRASS
Simply not trimming (with a weed eater) the grass or weeds that grow along a fenceline can prevent an electric fence from working. If the blades of plants are touching the wire, the fence will not work properly.
Keeping pigs is a lot of fun on a homestead. It does not need to be difficult or involve a major farm renovation.
Remember these tips:
Permanent: If you plan to keep pigs in your life for a while, put up a permanent woven wire fence. Use one electric wire to prevent rooting.
Temporary: Hog panels or other temporary fences can be used to give the pigs a visual boundary. Use 2 strands of electric wire to keep the pigs from escaping.
Electric: Remeber to check your electric fence regularly to be sure it is working properly. Make sure there is not any weeds, dirt or sticks coming in contact with the wire.
Happy Pig Keeping!
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