Keeping Pigs in the City: An Urban Farming Guide
Getting Started Raising Pigs
Please remember to check your local by-laws before taking the step into farming. Many urban centers may have regulations that will have to be followed.
The first step to raising pigs is locating a breeder. After you have found a breeder, it is time to purchase a wiener pig. Wiener pigs are basically piglets that are purchased for the purpose of raising to a full size pig to later be turned into food.
Pigs are very resilient animals and require very little in terms of housing to keep them happy. One small breed pig can easily be housed in a dog house or similar structure. The type of housing isn't too important as long as they are protected from wind and rain.
Fencing is the most important piece of the puzzle when raising pigs. Pigs are notoriously voracious feeders and if free from their pen, will stop at nothing to destroy your lawn and garden. A lot of owners will use a heavy gauge wire mesh fencing, but this will not always keep your pig where it needs to be. I recommend electric fencing, 4 rows of it, starting about 6-8 inches off the ground. Electric fencing is cheap and very good and keeping animals where they're supposed to be
Lastly, you will need a trough for feeding and one for watering. These can be anything large enough to hold a days worth of feed and water. It's not uncommon to see re-purposed items as pig feeders.
Things you need to start raising pigs
Dog house or similar structure
Electric or mesh wire fencing
Pig feed(varies depending on age)
Choosing a Breed of Pig
If you have a small back yard, space is obviously going to be a concern. Large breed pigs such as Berkshire or Tamworth are out of the question. Luckily pigs are raised all over the world by people with very little space so there has been a couple prominent small pig breeds that are very suitable to small scale pig farming.
Two ideal breeds for the backyard are:
Kunekune: A small breed from New Zealand. Longer hair than most pigs, they are commonly orange in color with black patches. Very well tempered and easy to manage.
Pot Bellied Pig: A very common small breed, pot bellied pigs are easy to find in most areas as they are very common pets. They have been compared to dogs in terms of their ease of maintenance. If you choose this breed, be sure to verify the size of the piglets parents. There are a few variations of this breed and some are very large.
Also keep in mind that the sex of your pig will play a large role in raising your pig. A male(boar) that has not been castrated will be on the aggressive side. Intact boars also acquire a very musky flavour to their meat. Castrated males(barrows) are by far the easiest going pigs to deal with. Female pigs(gilts) are well tempered but can be difficult to deal with while in heat. If purchasing a barrow, make sure that the castration wound is fully healed before taking him home.
Feeding Your Pig
Pelleted feed is a very convenient and cost effective way of feeding a small number of pigs. Pigs can also be allowed to forage on pasture or forest if space allows. Many people will also feed their pigs table scraps and leftovers from the garden. By supplementing your pigs pellet feed with scraps and forage you can greatly reduce your feed costs. Pigs should be fed between 0.5 and 1.5lbs of feed per day, depending on age. The younger the pig, the less feed it will require. Pigs stay true to their name and will eat as much as they can. Over feeding is not healthy for the animal and will cause severe health problems which may ultimately lead to losing the animal. Pigs between 4 and 9 months of age will do well on 0.75lbs of feed per day, especially if allowed to forage.
Housing Your Pig
To raise a happy and healthy pig at home you will need a good shelter. These shelters don't have to be fancy, in fact many are made with little more than tin roofing and scrap wood. The shelter should have a floor, slightly off the ground with plenty of dry straw for bedding. If your shelter is dry, draft free and regularly cleaned, you should be able to avoid a lot of health related issues that could potentially arise. A 4ft by 4ft shelter is enough space for two small breed pigs.
Keeping Your Pigs Healthy
Although very infrequent when farming pigs on a small scale, like any other large animal, parasites and diseases are going to be a concern at some point in your career as a pig farmer. When purchasing your pigs, ask if they have been treated for worms. It is a good idea that pigs be dewormed every 4-6 months. Keeping your pigs pen and housing clean will go a long way to protect against parasites. Also, moving your pig to different areas every month or so is a common practice to guard against parasites. Rotating your pigs living area also gives it more to graze on.
Enjoying the Fruits of Your Labour
When your pig reaches about 5 months of age it is time to start planning how you will go about the process of slaughtering and butchering the meat. You can chose to do it yourself or you can contact local slaughterhouses and butcher shops for the best prices. 5 Months is a rough estimate, but keep in mind that no two animals are alike. Depending on your goals and the growth rate of the animal you may decide to wait longer for a bigger harvest in the end. Typically small breed pigs will reach up to 250lbs. Keep in mind that the longer you wait to harvest, the less tender the meat will be. Young pigs equal tender pork.