Choosing the Best Shelter for Your Pigs

Review these methods to discover the best shelter for your pigs.

| November 2016

  • A straw shelter is a useful temporary measure that will last longer if built over a framework.
    Image credit: © Mike Corrigan, Octopus Publishing
  • The most popular choice of housing is the curve-roofed pig ark, made from metal or wood.
    Image credit: © Mike Corrigan, Octopus Publishing
  • Brick pigsties were once a popular form of pig shelter, but can be small and hard to clean.
    Image credit: © Mike Corrigan, Octopus Publishing
  • “Choosing and Keeping Pigs” by Linda Mcdonald-Brown, is a practical and accessible book that is ideal to introduce you to a practical livestock choice. Pigs are friendly, intelligent pets, they also help clear ground, recycle waste and fertilize the soil.
    Cover courtesy Firefly Books

Choosing and Keeping Pigs (Firefly Books, 2009), by Linda McDonald-Brown, also includes a history of pig keeping and a comprehensive directory of 30 traditional and rare breeds. This unique reference provides all the information a pig keeper requires.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Choosing and Keeping Pigs.

Housing

Some form of shelter must be provided for pigs at all times of year. It should be large enough to enable your pigs to turn around comfortably and lie down and ideally sufficiently sturdy to withstand their destructive tendencies.

Shelter considerations

In winter pigs need shelter from the wind and rain, and in summer they need protection from the sun. A few trees in the corner of the paddock won’t suffice, and it should not be assumed that pigs kept in woods will get sufficient shelter from the trees, no matter how dense the wood is.



When choosing or constructing a shelter, bear in mind that pigs – and boars in particular – are very destructive, and unless the shelter is made to a high standard and built from quality materials, it will not last. In the long run, buying the best shelter you can afford will be the most cost-effective. A shelter must also be large enough to accommodate comfortably the number of pigs that are using it. It is better to have too much space than too little – an extra bale of straw can always be added to fill up the space and keep your pigs warm.

Shelters that are positioned in the wrong place can have a detrimental effect on the welfare of your pigs, so careful thought needs to be given to their siting. If you are using an existing building, you obviously cannot change its position, but you should check that the building is draught-proof as far as possible, has good ventilation and has nothing in it that could injure the pig, such as exposed nails in the walls. If the building is old, check that the walls are sound: bricks that have come loose will attract the attention of your inquisitive pigs, and eventually the strength of the wall could be undermined. Ideally the building should be positioned as close as possible to an outdoor area to give the pigs some freedom.






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