Overwintering Pigs in the Northeast

| 2/4/2015 8:52:00 AM

Tags: Sugar River Farm, raising pigs, Kristen Kilfoyle, New Hampshire,


Hi everyone! After the +/- 30 inches of snow that our area received in the last week, I hope you all are doing well and are shoveled out, wherever you may be.

So, let's talk overwintering pigs, shall we? For our first porcine overwintering experience here at Sugar River Farm, Dan and I decided to start small with a herd of ten piglets. They are all currently spoken for (i.e. sold. Yay.), which gives us a pretty low risk way to chronicle the amount of care needed, their feed consumption over time and their weights as compared to a pig raised in a different season.

Some stats on the pigs : These pigs were born the end of September, 2014 and came to live with us in early December. Their projected market date is the middle of March, 2015.


Their fencing is currently a double strand of electric poly wire. (See image above.) Dan hooked up a special outlet in our barn just for the fence and water heater, just to protect the existing circuits from potentially getting overloaded. The power runs from the barn to the fence charger by way of extension cords with the connections taped and covered in spray foam insulation to keep the water out. We have neighbors who use our property for snowmobiling and Dan had the clever idea of running the cords that might go through that trail through a length of PVC pipe to protect them from any incident. We have found that we have had to raise the wire occasionally because of a snowfall, but for the most past, after snow, we walk the fence line and use a foot to push the snow out that may be touching the wire. Pretty simple! It usually takes about 20 minutes to do this. Moving the wire is always fun because you get to test the fence at the same time. I can feel the zing through my gloves... This may have something to do with why *knock on wood*, the pigs haven't left their corral for any self guided tours.


One of my first blog posts for MOTHER EARTH NEWS was a tutorial on how to build a pig hut. Basically, these huts are small A-frame structures that are open on both ends. We have found that these work very well. We fill them with hay, which we replace as needed and the pigs like to pile inside to sleep. As a rule, we like to have one hut per five pigs, but we find that all ten still like to sleep together under one roof. The ensuing pig pile and pigs leaning against the walls has popped some of the screws holding down the roof and Dan has had to make small repairs a few times this season. At some point, all 10 pigs will not be able to fit in t  he hut, no matter how hard they try, hence the second hut. I learned that pigs do better with more ventilation, which is why we keep both sides of the hut open, but we are not opposed to closing off one end in bad weather.

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