How to Move Pigs

I hate moving pigs.

Moving pigs means you are relocating them from where they are to someplace else.  This always usually happens when you raise pigs.

pig move 8

Yes, some people process their own pork…. on their own farms.  I am not one of those people.  Hog processing time is in winter here in Kentucky.  If you don’t have the indoor facility to do it, you must wait until the outdoors are the temperature of a freezer….. so all your pork doesn’t go bad while you are chopping it all up.

I don’t want to raise pigs in winter.  I don’t want to feed pigs in winter.  I don’t want to water pigs in winter.  Someday, I may get a wild hair and change my mind.  But today, I do not want to be slicing and dicing my own pork in the dead of winter on a miserable January day.  I want to be inside my house in front of a fire, frying bacon.

It doesn’t bother me that someone else made my bacon.  As long as it’s MSG & nitrate free, I’m happy.

So, if I don’t want to raise hogs until processing season (January) and I want to be pig-free by November 1 (Yes Please) then I’m going to load ’em up and move ’em out.

I have to get them from my farm to the local processor….. speaking of processors:

We have a fabulous processor close to home that looks more like an “animal spa” than a processor.  Everyone has comfy pens underroof.  The livestock are given hay and water while they are being held.  The facility is roomy, clean and brand spankin’ new.  It’s amazing.

Before the pigs can spend the night at the spa – they must get there.  This is where the loading comes in.

I have read articles that discuss how much better it is to process your own meat.  That your animals should end their life on the farm where they spent it.  That it is a sad, stressful, traumatic ending to a fabulous life if you take your animal to a processor.  Really.  There are people who think it is traumatizing to an animal to put them on a trailer and take them off the farm for their final departure.

Can I be the first to say.   They are wrong.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

People are nuts.

If it is abusive, unkind or somehow inhumane to deliver your animal to a processor then every person who has taken their horse, pig, chicken, cow, sheep, goat, etc anywhere is abusive.

Think about it.  Horses to go to horse shows.  Animals go to county and state fairs.  Cows go to Ag-Day to meet the children.  Chickens go to livestock swaps.  There are: Sale barns, auctions, competitive events and more.  I do not think loading animals into a trailer and taking them somewhere is a bad thing.

I have animals who LOVE to jump in the trailer & go for rides.  I never once thought that I was abusing them.  Sheesh.

So, if you decide that you don’t want to kill and scald your own hogs in the dead of winter, you have my permission to take them to a local processor.  I don’t think it’s mean or unkind.  For me, it is probably the better choice.  I just don’t want to butcher my own hogs.  Could I? – yes, absolutely.  Do I want to? – not really.

So, if you aren’t butchering your own hogs on your own farm –

This means you will be moving pigs.

big pig

The 2 main problems when it comes to moving pigs are:

  1. Pigs are smart.
  2. There is a good probability they weigh more than you do.

This does not help you move them.

If you have a sneaky plan of attack that involves trapping, penning or caging pigs and you fail the first time – good luck trying again.  If they fell for the trap once and got away they probably will not fall for it again.  Did I mention that pigs are smart?

This means that you want to be successful the first time and have a completely new plan of attack if it doesn’t work because…. pigs remember.

We moved a trailer-full of pigs last week.  It went as well as moving pigs can possibly go.  I am here to tell you.  It was a complete and roaring success.  The pigs are no longer in Pig Wonderland and are currently residing in vacuum-sealed, flash-frozen, plastic packages in my freezer.  Success!

It was hours of hard work and tension was high, but we did it.

I have moved a lot of pigs.

  • I have moved them from concrete jungles to my pasture.  (Here)
  • I have moved them from the small pasture to Pig Wonderland. (Here)
  • I have moved them back to the small pasture because someone had pneumonia. (Here)
  • I have moved them from pastures onto trailers.
  • I have moved them off trailers onto scales. (Here)
  • I have been raising pigs and moving them for several years. (Here)

Girl has some experience moving pigs.

Unfortunately, it comes with the pig-raising territory.

Here are a few hints and tips that will greatly aid your pig moving trials and tribulations

  1. Runs, chutes and small areas are your friend.
  2. Hungry pigs are easier to work with than the ones with full bellies.
  3. Electric cattle prods, tasers or stun guns would probably be helpful.   I have none of these.  I love my piggies and haven’t tased or electrified one yet.  But, boy have I wanted to!
  4. When all else fails, shove their head in a bucket and back them where ever you want them to go.  It’s true.  We have to do it every year with one stubborn pig.

pig move 3

Here’s what this process is going to look like:

The truck and trailer are in position ready to except pigs from Pig Wonderland.

  1. Phase 1:  Get the pigs into a smaller space
  2. Phase 2:  Move the pigs into a chute (it leads to the trailer)
  3. Phase 3:  Slowly and gently push the pigs through the chute onto the trailer

Phase 1 – Get them in a smaller space.

Tip – Have Pig-Mommy (or Daddy) Available

Trying to get your pigs to follow you into a smaller corral on loading day can be tricky.  They will probably know something is up and be a bit apprehensive about the whole thing.  I am usually the number one person on pig moving day because I am “Pig-Mommy.”  I have been loving, caring for and feeding my giant, porky friends for 4 months.  They know me and are most comfortable following me around.

Everyone else usually stands back while I call the pigs to where we want them.

pig move 1

Tip – Don’t feed them breakfast.

If you have hungry pigs they will be more motivated by food to go where you want them to go.  If they just ate 20 pounds of hog feed an hour ago they will laugh at the bucket of milk you are using to lure them into the corral.

Tip  – Small Spaces are your friend.

When moving a group of pigs from a large pasture into a tiny trailer it helps if you can get them confined to a smaller area first.

Chasing 6 pigs around in a 1 acre pasture is pointless.  You can’t win.  They are bigger, faster and you are out numbered.  Unless you like running in circles behind 300 pound pigs don’t try this approach.

This is where hunger will help you.  If you have a bucket of fresh mik and some hungry pigs – you can’t loose.  Just position a large feeding bowl in the corral where you want them.  Fill it with food, and when everyone is watching, pour the milk on top of their feed.  If they have seen this before and tasted it, it is a sure win.  They won’t be able to resist.

Close the gate behind them & do your Piggy Happy Dance – pigs in small corral – phase 1 complete!

Phase 2 – Get them into the loading chute

Tip – Build a chute before moving day.

DH built the chute before pig loading day.  Loading day is already a 3 Ring Circus.   Trying to build a 16 foot chute in addition to everything else may be the end of you.  I know it wouldn’t go well around here.  So, we build the chute in advance.
pig move 2

The chute can be an elaborate ramp leading up to your trailer or some cheap plywood you staked up with metal fence posts.  The fanciness is not important.  What you want is a long chute leading to one place – and nowhere else – the trailer.

If you already have your pigs in a small holding area attached to your chute it shouldn’t be too hard to move them in.   Just use some plywood boards or cattle panels and your 4 children to make the area smaller and smaller and smaller until they have no choice but to enter the chute (if you don’t have 4 children to help, neighbors, friends or family make great helpers).

pig move 4

All the pigs are in the chute.  Phase 2 complete!  Do another Happy Pig Jig!

Now, we just have to get them to walk into the trailer…

Phase 3 – Move them onto the trailer

Tip – Move Slowly, Push Gently.

Once all the pigs are in the chute all that is left to do is come behind them with a piece of fence, gate, board or other strong object.  As you walk forward  slowly, gently “push” the pigs up the chute towards the trailer.  As you move forward they will have no choice but to walk into the trailer.

This will work for all but 1 of your pigs.  At least that’s what will happen if you are us.  The last pig is the hardest to get loaded, the most stubborn and ALWAYS the biggest.

That last pig gets pushed, slapped, shoved and finally, when all else fails,  he get’s a bucket shoved over his face and DH man-handles him onto the stinkin’ trailer.

pig move 6

6 pigs heading to the processor to fulfill their destiny as:

Bacon, Sausage, Pork Cutlets, Pork Steaks, Ribs, Ham Steaks, Pork Chops, Boston Butt, Pork Tenderloin, Bratwurst, Pork Loin Roast, Easter Ham, Ground Pork, Lard & other delicious things.

Thank you my friends – it’s been a fun summer!

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OINK!

Candi

 

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