Raising Feeder Pigs – Concrete or Pasture?

Raising Feeder Pigs – You have to decide:  Concrete or Pasture?

PIGLETS are here!!

This post should come with a mild warning.  Some people seem to think the proper way to carry a piglet is by it’s back legs or leg.  I do not subscribe to this particular philosophy, but many folks do (like, apparently, everyone but me).  Since I am just the purchaser of the piglets, not the breeder, who am I to question the breeders mode of transportation for said pigs.

Brace yourself, you are about to see poor, little piglets helplessly dangling from their back legs.

Sorry.
There are 2 main camps when it comes to raising pigs.

  1. Raise them on Concrete
  2. Raise them on Pasture

You can probably guess which camp I’m in.

Let’s start with the concrete mode.  Although I am about to get on my soap box and spew 10 reasons why pigs should be raised on pasture; I’m going to give the concrete method full consideration.

Concrete Advantages:

  • They are easy to keep clean.
    • They can’t root.
    • They can’t dig.
    • They can’t tunnel under the fence and escape.
    • They can’t build swimming pools.
    • They can’t throw their food bowls or drinkers in the mud pit that they built.
    • They can’t push you into their swimming pit of filth.

Concrete may keep the pigs from digging, rooting and wallowing…………

BUT

They are pigs.  They are supposed to dig, root and wallow.  They live to dig, root and wallow.  They NEED to dig, root and wallow.

….. the poor, poor pigs on concrete.  Sad, sad, sad face.

No sunshine.  No grass.  No trees.  No fresh air.  No mud.  No dirt.  No plants.  No rain.  Nothing to forage.  Nothing to explore.  Nothing to wallow in.

Nothing but food, water, concrete and other pigs.  
pigs3

This is where we bought our piglets.  You can see there is concrete, grated flooring.  There are metal walls, a metal ceiling and nothing that passes for a window in my book.  The pigs are in pens, on grates surrounded by concrete.

These pigs were born on concrete and have lived on concrete their entire lives.  It is the only thing they’ve ever seen.  Many of the pigs born here will spend their entire (short) lives here before being processed.

This is pretty much the excepted standard of operation for raising pigs today.  Most pork products sold in grocery stores come from pigs who spent their entire lives in a building like this one.

“About 99% of all pigs raised in the US are raised in confinement buildings, on operations known as CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations).”

They’ll never seen grass, trees, dirt or the sun.

If you want the healthiest pork, you will want to get these little piggies off the concrete and let them play in some dirt under some sunshine!

Why Pasture Raised Pigs are Superior:

  1. Stimulus for the pigs – sufficient opportunity to fulfill their natural need to root and explore
  2. Grasses, plants and Increased nutrition from pasture foraging
  3. The pigs have wallows (muddy water holes) to cool off in
  4. Exposure to sun, rain and fresh air
  5. Pigs get more exercise and plenty of room to move about
  6. Pigs on pasture have fewer health problems
  7. Lower costs to raise animals (as part of their diet will come from the pasture)
  8. Healthier working environment for individuals caring for pigs
  9. Meat from pastured animals contain:  Vitamin E, Vitamin D, Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3 fatty acids
  10. Happy pigs!

We were happy to find some Yorkshire cross pigs available.  We were also happy to rescue some little piggies (6) from the concrete jungle and bring them to our pasture.

The piglets had to be transported from their concrete pen into our trailer so we could get them home.  My children are normal kids, so of course, they wanted to pick out the piglets.  They stood innocently along the rail selecting and pointing to the pigs they wanted to take home.  Not knowing what was about to happen next………

pigs 2

Well, Mr. Concrete started grabbing the lucky pigs (by their back legs, mind you) and handing them to my children.  He didn’t take into consideration that we may or may not be comfortable swinging piglets by their back legs.  He also didn’t consider that 13 year old girls may not want to be handed a screaming pig. He just kept asking the kids to point to the ones they wanted and he’d grab’em by the back leg and hoist them over to the small child standing there.
pigs 4

At one point my oldest daughter ( pictured above) was handed 2 piglets.  She just stood there stunned with a pig in each hand.  Each one swinging from one of it’s back legs.  Immobile, she finally screamed, “Father!”  DH quickly came to her rescue as Mr. Concrete continued to catapult piglets at my children.  I was trying to take pictures, while laughing.  Unfortunately, the laughter was preventing me from being able to hold still……… thus all the pictures are blurry.  Sorry.

I’m sure you understand.  I’m lucky I got any pictures at all.  
pigs 6

The poor concrete dwelling piglets were happy to be upright again in our animal trailer.  They did fine on the ride to feeder-pig paradise!

When we got back to the house we had to get the piglets from the trailer into the promised-land.

pigs 7

Fortunately for the piglets, my daughters know how to carry a pig right-side-up.  pigs 8

Upright, happy piggies.
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Unfortunately, my oldest son does not.  Poor pig.

pigs 9

Oh boy were those piglets rocked by their new world.  Grass, sun, dirt, shade, fresh air!  They were a bit overwhelmed, or maybe it was the previous (upside down) hour of their little lives which did it.  They found a corner, snuggled into a pile and slept……. except for one.

Have I mentioned that we have harnesses we put on our piglets?

No one can say that the animals on our homestead are neglected.  Overstimulated maybe, but not neglected.

This is cow.  In his harness.  Getting ready to go for a walk……..pigs 11

to my back porch.  Cow looks tired.  pigs 12

Apparently, being swung by your back leg is exhausting.  I think Cow would like to go join the pile of piglets for a siesta.

Welcome Cow, we are glad you are here!

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Happy Pig Season!

Candi

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