Wintertime is coming and you might be wondering what to do with your pigs.
There are a few things that you should do to prepare them for the winter.
These tips include providing shelter, checking for and fixing drafts, providing ventilation in the shelter, proving plenty of bedding and maybe a blanket, having more than one pig, providing more food, providing plenty of water and a water heater, reviewing your pig breed and what they need during the winter, managing the manure, and making a clear path.
Read on to find out what you might have forgotten.
Inside or outside
Before you prepare for the winter, you need to figure out if you are going to keep your pigs inside or keep them outdoors.
And of course, there are pros and cons to each.
Pigs, like other animals, are used to being outside over many upon many years.
So naturally, they can survive being outside during the winter.
You just have to decide what you are willing and not willing to do.
If you keep them inside, you don’t have to worry about them staying warm during the cold weather.
You also don’t have to worry about their water freezing over.
So you will only have to give them water once and then not worry about it the rest of the day.
On the other hand, you will have to worry about their manure.
If they are inside, then they will be pooping somewhere.
So you’ll have to keep an eye on that and take care of it whenever it happens.
Either that or take your pigs outside for a walk on a regular basis.
Pigs are really smart animals, so this is possible, but might take quite a bit of training.
If they are outside, then you don’t have to worry about the manure unless you are composting, but at least you don’t have to smell it throughout the house.
But you do have to keep in mind that you do give them enough water and food and that their water is not freezing over.
If it is frozen, then dump it out and refill it again.
This article will be covering keeping your pigs outside.
So if this is the option you choose, then continue reading to get a full picture of what you’ll need to do.
The very first thing you want to make sure you provide to your pig is shelter.
The shelter will help to keep the pigs out of the snow and wind.
This means that they can keep dry and out of the cold wind.
It doesn’t need to be a big shelter like you would provide for your sheep shed.
But it does need to provide enough space for your pigs to be able to relax.
This means that it should be at least a few feet high (maybe not more than 3 or 4 feet) and 5 or 6 feet wide.
You could build a shed for this with some pallet wood and some plywood.
Or you could purchase a dog house here that would provide enough space for your pigs.
This should be enough to keep them warm at night and out of the snow.
Check for and fix drafts
Once you’ve decided on the shelter, you need to check for drafts.
If you purchased the dog house, you probably won’t have to worry about this much, but it isn’t worth checking out.
But if you’ve built it on your own, then you especially should walk around the shelter and look for drafts.
Checking for drafts should be pretty easy.
Go to your shelter and then use the back of your hand to put it up against the different corners of the shelter.
Using your hand, you should be able to feel the breeze on it where there is a draft.
Once you’ve gone around the shelter and identified all the drafts, then you need to fill them in.
Some have mentioned using cardboard to fill in any drafts.
This would take cutting the cardboard to the right size and then using a hammer and some nails to put it into place.
This might be a good option, but if a pig gets desperate for some warmth, they might pull it off of the wall so they could use it for some bedding.
A good option that might last longer around your pigs is some foam sealant, which you can find here.
When you’ve identified the draft areas, apply the foam sealant and then wait for it to dry completely.
Then that should take care of all the drafts.
Provide ventilation in the shelter
There is a difference between drafts and ventilation.
While drafts are when the air goes directly onto your pigs, ventilation is carefully planned holes that allow the bad air to escape.
Now pigs aren’t like chickens, who will poop anywhere even in their coop.
Pigs will usually find one spot in your yard that they want to use for the bathroom and will continue to use that spot.
So you probably don’t have to worry too much about your pigs soiling up their shelter.
But it is a good idea anyway to have some ventilation.
If you have a shelter that you bought online, you might not want to put any holes in it.
But if you put it together by yourself, you can place some strategic holes that will allow the shelter to have a little bit of ventilation.
And this will typically be at the top of the shelter and it will be on opposite sides.
This means that the good air will come in one side and the bad air out on the other side.
Prove plenty of bedding and maybe a blanket
Pigs certainly like to be comfortable.
You probably wouldn’t want to lay on the ground outside or the wooden floor of a shelter for very long.
Pigs are exactly the same way, they want to be comfortable where they are.
So this means that you need to provide some kind of bedding for them.
The bedding gives them a nice and soft service for them to lay on.
And the best thing for this bedding is some nice hay, which you should put directly into their shelter.
Make sure to provide plenty of it, or they may go for other things for some warmth.
There have been stories of pigs laying underneath feet of hay because they like the feel of it.
There are also stories of pigs shredding up on things in their area to lay under.
So if you provide hay to pigs, this will keep them from searching for other solutions.
Our pigs will lay underneath where we feed or sheep since our sheep are so messy that much of what we give them to eat ends up on the ground.
Another option is to give them a blanket or two to keep them warm.
But if you are going to give them a blanket, don’t forget to give them hay as well, or they still might end up shredding the blanket to pieces.
Have more than one pig
Pigs are very social creatures, so they are the happiest when they are around other pigs.
This includes staying warm during the wintertime.
Pigs will use that time to get close to one another and to keep each other warm.
So if you are going to keep your pigs outside, consider having more than one pig.
And just before wintertime would be a perfect time to purchase other pigs.
Most of the time, people are most anxious to purchase pigs during the spring and summer.
So when fall and winter come around, those who breed pigs are desperate to get rid of the ones that they have.
That means you can buy additional pigs for pretty cheap around this time.
So if you are considering getting more than one pig, this would be a great time to purchase a few for a relatively cheap price.
Provide more food
During the wintertime, the pig’s body is going to produce more heat to keep the pig warm.
And because they are producing more heat, they are going to need more fuel.
This means that you need to provide more feed to your pig.
During spring and summer seasons, we feed our pigs some pig feed that we find at the store and they seem to like this quite a big,
But during the fall and wintertime when the weather gets cold, you need to provide the feed, but also something more.
This would be a good time to give your pigs the kitchen scraps or vegetables from your fridge that you are about to throw out.
The additional nutrients they will find in these foods should be great for their bellies during the colder seasons and help them to sustain their body weight.
Provide plenty of water and a water heater
Pigs love their water.
I’ve watched our pigs a few times after I’ve filled up their trough of water and they absolutely love it.
Not only to drink but to play in as well.
We used to have a mini pool in our animal area so our duck could play in.
But there were quite a few times where the mommy pig was laying in the pool because she just so much wanted to be in the water.
To is also true during the winter season.
No matter how cold it is, pigs will want to play in the water.
So it is important to keep an eye on the water level and make sure the pigs are getting plenty of water.
You also need to keep an eye on the water to make sure it doesn’t freeze over.
Because once the water freezes over, then it will be of no use to your animals.
So you really have two options here.
Fill up the water multiple times a day
This means you will have to keep an eye on the water and make sure it doesn’t freeze over.
If it does freeze over, then you need something to break up the ice, like a broom handle or your foot.
Then break up the ice.
Or you can pour out the ice and refill the trough with new water.
This may seem like such a hassle, but again it is important how much water you give your pigs.
Get a water heater
So if you don’t want to refill the water all of the time, you can get a water heater.
Your first option for the water heater is one you place before the trough.
This is a great option if you have a trough that is the same size as the water heater.
You can find one of those here.
Another option for a water heater is one you place in the water, which can be found here.
Both of these are great options.
Review your pig breed and what they need during the winter
For the most part, pigs are pretty hearty animals.
So they can survive pretty well during the winter months.
But if you want a pig that is on the hairier side, then the Mangalitsa or Tamworth are the breeds for you.
Other breeds will probably be fine in the winter.
Manage the manure
Just like during the spring and summer, your pigs have to go to the bathroom.
Depending on where they go, you might have to take some time to clean up the manure.
If you keep the pigs in a barn, then letting the manure pile up is going to create some problems.
First, the decomposing manure is going to cause a big smell in the barn.
It is also going to create some heat in the barn.
This isn’t the kind of heat that you want.
But either way, you are going to want to clean out the manure.
Make a clear path
Lastly, make a clear path for your pigs.
This means when there is a great snowfall, you clear a path so the pigs can get around.
This doesn’t mean that the pigs won’t go ahead and play in the snow.
But you’ll want to make sure they have a path to their shelter, food, and water.
Pigs are animals that can do pretty well during the winter season.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take steps to make sure they are ready for the season.
And as you take care of them, then come spring you’ll have pretty happy pigs.