Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
Let me start by saying I have never raised pigs before, so I have no experience with penning them in at all.
I have about 20 acres of mature woods on my land, much of it overgrown with brambles and poison ivy and It looks to me like the perfect place to raise some pigs. I was thinking of trying some Ossabaw's or a similar breed, the problem I have is that the woodlands are very uneven and I am concerned about them escaping and getting into my neighbours soy and winter wheat fields. Knowing what great escape artists pigs can be, I wanted to solicit some advice on the best way to fence them in. Also has anyone built fencing in woodlands by utilizing living trees as fenceposts? It strikes me as a pretty good way to reduce my overall costs of putting up the fencing, but I'm afraid I might be missing some major drawbacks.
Any tips or recomendations would be most welcome.
I use trees when I can. I go 8 feet between posts (or trees). The key is making the fence "hog tight". I just finished making about a 2 acre area for pigs. I used 39 inch field wire. (2/3rds had barbed wire up ((the other third already had the 39 inch field wire).
You must pull the fencing as tight as possible. I have a jig (4 foor piece of squared pipe) with 3 "S" welded on, and a half circle. The "S" go into the fence, an I attach a fence puller into the half circle. I go 3 lenghs to pull from... and when it's a tree too big for the fence puller I go to the next post (/tree).
Another idea is to use portable electric netting (if there's sun for solar power) and move it from place to place as the pigs eat the vegetation down. We have pigs set up that way, clearing an area of brush in sections.
I'm wondering about using electric with some pasture and woodland grazing weaners (there'll be 2 of 3) - and the issue of coyote predation. Any thoughts? We'll have them quite near the house for the first while but the idea is to gradually move them along into some old ground back towards the woods. We absolutely have coyotes near. I hear a female sow acts as good protection with piglets but if there's no sow...
We've had people recommend hog panels. So far we haven't used them as we kept our pigs in a 2-acre pasture that my husband fenced with no-climb horse fence (originally intended to keep our small Dexter calves safe from coyotes). An oak tree hangs over the field, and the pigs loved the acorns so we gathered them up other places after those ran out and finished the pigs on acorns.
That got us thinking about using some of our 8 acres of woods, although we would probably fence in some pasture, too, since they love the pasture so much. We're planning to do a lot of that by stapling hog panels to trees when possible and putting in T-posts when the trees aren't where we need them.
We have done some fence like that for our horses and cows using cattle panels. It's working really well and is SO much easier than dragging rolls of fencing through the woods. I got the idea from All Flesh is Grass by Gene Logsdon. What we were told by a tree specialist is that hammering a few large staples into the tree won't hurt it, but if you wrap wire all the way around the trunk, you will eventually kill the tree.
Pat, Marie, Heather and Susan,
(FYI: so sorry for the delayed response to your replies, I was happily working at the farm when I began to feel bad, next thing I know I'm getting open heart surgery! Recovering now thanks to my very smart daughter and some teriffic nurses and surgeons.)
Thank you all for your great responses, It was exactly what I was looking for. For although everyone has a different approach, the suggestions are all going to very useful since we all know every section of every farm seems to differ enough for a modified approach to even the most standardised methods, heck I may end up using all 4. Field wire for the outer border, electric netting and panels to move them throughout the acres section by section. Predation could still be an issue, but maybe I could electrify some of the field wire fencing on the outer border.
Pigs are much easier to fence then what you would think. At Biggers' Farm we start ours out in a 60 x 60 woven wire lot with an electric wire about 12 inches from the bottom. After a week or two in there we can turn them out into the woods. Once a pig is trained to electric, two strands will keep them in. Pigs absolutely hate being shocked. We have used this method fro years and have only had one pig getout and wander about 10 feet from the fence. The only reason that even happened was because an electric fence gate handle had fell. If you want any more info on raising pastured pigs. I personally think taht expensive hog panels are simply not worth it unless you just want a quick holding pen. You can use nylon rope to tie to trees and run electric fence wire through that, if you want to minimize tree damage, and not have to put up expensive stakes I have an article that I wrote and published in Backhome Magazine that I would be glad to email to you . I also have an ebook available http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Pastured-Pigs-Homesteading-ebook/dp/B....
Samantha, that's what we intend to do - but for me I'm not so concerned about keeping the weaner pigs in, it's more the keeping coyotes (or coy-wolves as they're increasingly being called in these parts) out. Could you or others offer any advice? For us, there'll be no sows or guardian dogs as protection.
One thing I would do is make sure you go coyote hunting whenever you get free time. This is a serious comment we have to do it up north at my father in laws place we usally get about 1-3 a week all year. They reproduce so fast its crazy probebly the same in your area if you dont want to go hunt maybe put a add in craigslist saying if you want to hunt coyotes to call you up or something and set some guidlines for the hunter.