Raising a Hog – Pens

On keeping a Red Wattle

Notes to add to for the person wondering what they need to keep a pig in the back yard…

First you need a pen, right? Well, it seems to be the most common way. There is much written about feral hogs, and much of it is true. You don’t want to contribute to the neighboring population by donating your new rare breed heritage hog. Truth is, for growing a Red Wattle hog to butcher for the freezer, a pen is about the least economical, the least healthy, and the least enjoyment for the hog. But it is the most common. For the time being I raise mine in pens, and I am a little ashamed of it, but in my situation I almost have to. I breed these animals, and I have to be certain who is breeding who for the genetics of my small ‘herd’. If I put them all together in the pasture, I won’t know who was bred by who, or when. Soon I hope to have a pasture plan that will remedy this, but until then, pens it is. There are other logistics in play here for another post – soon.

Piglets in the pasture

Piglets roaming with the bovine neighbors

 

 

What I have done for pens

A fence, yea of course, but what kind of fence. There are so many ways to fence a pig pen, with pipe, wood, cattle panels, field fencing, pallets, be creative, if you like. (But don’t blame me when your neighbor is eating your pork… lol)

I have used 3 different approaches, all worked fine for me. The first pen I built was out of 5 inch treated posts, 3 to each corner with braces. Then I put ‘tee’ posts in every 8 feet or so between and wrapped it all with 6″ rolled wire. I put barbed wire at the ground level, and at the top (mostly for the cows) I also had a hot wire around the entire perimeter. That pen was about 35 feet by 80 feet and I had a single hog in it. Over time (2 years) the hot wire became grounded out repeatedly, sometimes giving me a good shock on the wire fencing. The power fence box then died. (it was a cheapie) I didn’t fix it. More hogs came, and went, I built a shed and feed room on one side, and some dividing fences for show pigs and farrowing sows.

My original pig pen, with my original hog, Red

My original pig pen, with my original hog, Red

 

The first of the dividers I used cattle panels, a wood post and a ‘tee’ post (I had them around) The cattle panel had 6″x8″ holes. Babies go through this like nothing by the way, they don’t even slow down for it. That was fine because all my grown hogs were great with the piglets. But, I was also getting donuts from the local bakery and they were loving that stuff. Too much. One day, the boar put his nose at the bottom of the cattle panel between the posts (8′ between them) lifted it up and walked through it. Like it was nuthin’, he had 3 long gouges in his back as a result, and I was afraid he was really hurt, but he didn’t care, he got the donut he was after. I stopped getting donuts soon after that, and decided a pipe tie wired to the bottom of the cattle panels and posts was a must. It took me half a day to somewhat straighten out the panel and re-attach it. The large holes in the cattle panel helped him lift it, so smaller holes are a must. I started gettin the 4″ hole panels, and the young piglets can still get through it, up to about 3 weeks they will wedge through it. By the way, the boar was fine.

The crumby panel divider is broke here

The crumby panel divider is broke here

 

Then I added a ‘boar pen’.

I called it a boar pen, because it was to be strong enough to hold back the boar from the original pen, which had the sows in it as well as some piglets. I used 5 inch treated posts again, but no ‘tee’ posts, all wood. I wrapped it with high tensile rolled wire, with 3″ holes at the bottom, all the way up to 3×5 at the top. I then lag bolted true 1″ by 6″ rails at the ground and 30″ up from the ground. No power wire. I used pipes for braces and crossed wires to tighten the posts against the stretched wire. Also I used no barbed wire. I am sure the boar could go through it, if he really tried, but he doesn’t, he is content. The 3″ holes stop even the youngest of the piglets by the time they are adventurous enough to get there, about a week old. I put a gate between the original pen and the new boar pen. Next time the board will span across the gate opening as well, because the boar and a sow will try to burrow under and hook the gate with their nose and lift. I’m thinking the board under the gate, with the gate shutting against the board will keep this from happening too much.

A view of part of the boar pen

A view of part of the boar pen

 

What I recommend for low budget, but pretty good pen fencing.

If you are just growing out some Red Wattle pigs, they are pretty docile, content pigs. They don’t get so crazy as some other breeds, who will do everything in their power to destroy things. (We have had Hampshire show pigs, we call them ‘Devil Pigs’)

So, from what I have seen, and used this is what I see would be just fine for raising a hog or three to butcher age, or about 300 pounds. On the cheap with all new materials… 5″ posts 7 foot long – wood set in at least 2.5 feet. 3 posts per corner, brace with pipes at the top and diagonal wires twisted to tighten. ‘Tee’ posts are ok, if there will never be full grown hogs or a boar in here. Field (or rolled) fence with 3″ sq holes at the bottom is best, high tensile is hard to work with, but you can get it tighter. Where there is a gate, use wood posts both sides, with braces and diagonal wires. Also put a post under the gate, lag bolted to the gate posts. Or a timber of some kind (RR tie?) Tight seems to be the key with the wire, once it gets loose, they will test it more. I dont use barbed wire any more, they just get hurt, and keep trying. For a little more insurance, you can add true 1″ thick by 6″ rough cut boards around the ground level, and staple the wire to that. Just doing that will last for a few years of feeders I think with minimal repairs.

My next project is to extend the Boar Pen the entire 80′ across the original pen, the same way I built the boar pen. Then I want to add pasture paddocks next year (dreaming?).

See other posts in the series – Raising a Hog

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