View Full Version : raising pigs

07-15-2014, 07:23 PM
I've got a farmer who thinks he can raise pigs in a movable pen on a clover field. He's providing them with shade and fresh water, but expects them to get their feed by eating only fresh clover. He moves them to a new area every day or so along with their water and shade. Will he succeed?

07-15-2014, 08:43 PM
I'm not a hog farmer, but a teensy bit of research suggests you're going to have malnourished pigs which may not even survive. They need more protein, a source of fresh water, and bulk ordinarily provided by grains.

From Encyclopdia Britannica: "Pigs have the same basic nutritional requirements as humans, which include water, various vitamins and minerals, protein for growth and repair, carbohydrates for energy, and fat to supply essential fatty acids that are not synthesized in adequate quantities. Water is often a forgotten nutrient because it is usually readily available. As a guide, pigs need two to three times as much water as dry feed, depending on environmental temperatures."

I don't know what all's in clover, but I doubt there's much protein and carbs, or any fat.

Maryn, who in fact does indeed eat like a pig

07-15-2014, 08:55 PM
Pigs are omnivours, not herbivours. Plus they're great escape artists. I doubt a mobile pen like that could hold them.

That's more how one would do Chickens.

07-15-2014, 08:59 PM
I don't think any real farmer would try that. Maybe someone who just moved to the country from the city.

07-15-2014, 09:12 PM
Pigs don't graze like a horse or a cow. They root around and tear things up.

They also need to be able to cool off, which is why they like to have a nice big mud puddle to wallow in.

When I was a kid our pigs got grain, hay, table scraps, garden clippings, and milk from the neighbor's dairy farm.
And one time they killed and ate our goose because it stuck its head in the pen. :(

07-15-2014, 09:28 PM
Will he succeed?
Nope. That's a process for chickens. Pigs won't even eat clover. (Chickens don't either, but they eat bugs...)

Now, what do you need for your story?


Karen Junker
07-15-2014, 11:21 PM
I'm pretty sure our pig pen had some kind of metal spikes around the sides, stuck into the ground a couple feet, or thick wire mesh so the pigs couldn't dig their way out. They will swarm and eat anything they can -- so as small children, we weren't allowed to sit on the edges of the pen because they might grab a limb and chomp down.

Our pigs ate a grain mash, I think you could buy it at a feed store. But their primary diet was the food scraps from local schools (in the 50s, schools had kitchens with cooks and the food was served on trays which got scraped into garbage cans. The food waste would go into one and the paper in another).

Alessandra Kelley
07-15-2014, 11:33 PM
Pigs are fairly smart animals, and strong, and omnivorous. I am not sure they would stand for mere clover in a mere moveable pen.

07-15-2014, 11:39 PM
Contrary to the cliche, "sweat like a pig," pigs DON'T sweat, and that's why they wallow in mud -- to cool off.

07-15-2014, 11:48 PM
Nope. That's a process for chickens. Pigs won't even eat clover. (Chickens don't either, but they eat bugs...)


(Actually our chickens eat all sorts - includes plenty of grass and docks - it is what makes the yolks much more yellow on free range eggs.)

Just emphasise to you OP - pigs really really dig. Not kept them myself but one of the reasons why not is we don't want our fields pig ploughed, thank you. Reading online you can use pigs to turn over a vegetable patch for you (before moving them on).

Another thing on pigs - in the UK you have to register premises where you are keeping farm livestock like pigs and you have to have movement orders specific to the animals when you move them in or out. Likewise you have to keep medical records of anything given to them - wormers, antibiotics whatever. You'd better check the rules in your area.

You also need to decide if you are raising porkers or bacon pigs. Rare breed or commercial. Breeding or starting from weaners.

Jim Riley
07-16-2014, 01:45 AM
He won't have to worry about raising pigs past the first day. They'll be gone. We had pigs on our commercial hunting ranch. For the tame pigs, you need to either use pig panels buried at least six inches or put rings in their noses to keep them from rooting. As far as feeding them, they will eat clover, but they need so much more as many of the replies state. Clover alone will not turn a pig into a hog.

07-16-2014, 01:49 AM
I think the others about covered it. Pigs need protein. Pigs are escape artists. The clover field will be a churned up manure pile in short order unless it is the size of Texas.

Dennis E. Taylor
07-16-2014, 01:55 AM
Breeding or starting from weaners.

So, pigs come from weaners, and weiners come from...

Oh, God, I need a hobby....

07-16-2014, 12:16 PM
Well, for a hobby, you could work on which came first - the chicken or the egg. :D

Back to OP - if your plot needs your character to have a pen of animals grazing on clover, and them being moved round regularly, what about rabbits? Not being funny, don't know a great deal about keeping rabbits other than the pen would need to be strong, and have a floor of chicken wire so they can't dig down, that rabbits can suffer from fly strike and also that Lop rabbits were bred extra large for meat.
Depending on your area you might need to use more robust material than chicken wire to stop predators getting in.

07-16-2014, 12:33 PM
Kunekune pigs can live on grass, but they will tromp all over it, and will dig it up badly (unless they're ringed). So your farmer could probably pull it off with this breed, given a VERY large moveable pen and a VERY VERY large clover field, but....not sure what he'd do with them once he'd reared them. I'm told they're not very good for eating.

Veinglory might know more. V, have you ever eaten kunekune pork?

07-16-2014, 06:27 PM
They are pretty rare and I only saw them as pets. I know I was told they fatten on grass but I am skeptical. I think it stunts them, and the free ranging ones supplemented their diet.

07-16-2014, 06:34 PM
You could maybe raise sheep this way. Goats too, although they're more browsers and prefer bushes/leafy plants.

07-17-2014, 10:17 PM
Many thanks, all of you. Looks like my headstrong farmer is in for a very difficult year. (hee hee)

07-18-2014, 12:12 AM
I actually did research on pigs, too, recently! They're really fascinating animals, and as said above, very smart escape artists. Some have higher intelligence than dogs, can recognize more words (or 'commands') and don't have the dog-like mentality of pleasing their owner above their own needs.

I could see a pig - or pigs - if forced to eat clover and nothing else, breaking out of their portable enclosure in order to get into what they really want. Perhaps trash on the owner's property, or dead animals. They could get into all sorts of trouble.

Sorry I'm late to the reply party on this!

07-18-2014, 12:44 AM
I would certainly hope they escaped, otherwise the story would get rather depressing.