Build a Quick and Easy Pigpen

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Build a pigpen, and raise your own pork at home.
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Build a pigpen, and raise your own pork at home.
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The completed pigpen.

My wife and I had always wanted to raise our own bacon,
but–because we live on a small lot in a Florida real
estate development–we hesitated to buy a real, live
pig. Problem is, you just can’t have a porker or two
running around on the lawn (or worse, other
people’s lawns) in a neighborhood like ours.

Still, despite our less-than-perfect locale (and despite
the fact that we’d never raised a hog before), we were
determined that someday we’d give pig ownership a
try.

As luck would have it, a friend of mine approached me at
work one day last year–about, a week before
Christmas–and asked if I wanted to buy a pig.

“Nope,” I answered, and went on to list my reasons.

“But you can give it to your wife for Christmas,” my
co-worker said, half jokingly.

Well I mulled that suggestion over awhile . . . and decided
that, by gosh, a pig would make one hell of a good
Christmas present! (It certainly wouldn’t be the sort of
thing my wife would expect or forget.) So–putting
aside all thoughts of neighbors and lack of space–I,
looked my buddy square in the eye and said, “OK. I’ll take
it!”

Thus, when Christmas morning rolled around, I had a
thoroughly surprised and delighted wife . . . plus a
seven-week-old pig! There was just one little problem: The
small wire cage in which I’d brought our plump little
friend home was much too tiny to serve as his permanent
residence. Our piglet obviously needed a much larger home .
. . and right away.

So we built a simple pigpen consisting of one full sheet
(4′ X 8′) of exterior-grade 1/2-inch plywood (for the
floor) set in a cradle of four 48″ X 56″ two-by-four
frames, and some eight-foot-long pine boards for siding. I
call it the “Quick and Easy” pigpen, because it goes
together quickly and easily with the aid of just a few
basic hand tools. (! spent around $30 on our pen. . . but
only because I chose to use all-new lumber. You should be
able to put together a similar sty for much less-if not for
free-from recycled materials.)

To construct “Pork Chop’s” pen, I first nailed two
48-inch-long two-by-fours to the ends of a 56-inch-long
two-by-four-and closed the open side of the resulting
rectangle with a 1″ X 2″ furring strip-to make one of the
sty’s four main frames. Then, after fabricating three more
identical rectangles, I simply [1] stood them all upright,
[2] spaced them an equal distance (about 32″) apart, [3]
laid the 4′ X 8′ sheet of exterior-grade half-inch plywood
inside the four sections of framing, and [4] nailed the
plywood floor down.

I used 8-inch-wide pine boards, eight feet long and spaced
four inches apart, for the pen’s sides. It’s important to
nail these planks to the inside of the stall, by the way.
(If you were to spike them to the outside of the pen, the
hog would eventually push them loose as he banged against
and scratched his rump on the planks.)

We mounted gate boards on one end of the pen so that we
could slide them in or out (see diagram). This made it easy
for us to let our growing porker out regularly while one of
us got in to clean his quarters. (We closed off the other
end of the sty with a piece of plywood that was cut to fit
and spiked on with extra nails. We also covered that end of
the pen with a simple plywood roof to give our piglet a
little shade.)

Although some folks might think it cruel to raise a hog in
such a small area, it’s not. Ours lived like a king for the
four months we kept him. We changed his bedding of hay or
oak leaves (raked from the lawn) every day or two, and
buried the old bedding in the garden (to help keep down
unwanted odors and-at the same time fertilize our plants).
We also fed Pork Chop rather lavishly twice a day . . . and
when it came time to butcher the animal, he tipped the
scales at 225 pounds!

When all was said and done (and eaten), we figured the cost
of our homegrown, home-butchered, and home cured pork at
around 45¢ per pound . . . which isn’t too bad, for a
first attempt at hog-raising.

And it certainly never would’ve happened right here in a
Florida development without the Quick and Easy Pigpen!

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