A more Sustainable Homestead; Introducing our new Boar Pig

We love pigs. Why do you ask? Bacon, need I say more… Well, actually that is vastly under selling pigs. On our homestead they help compost kitchen waste, clear land for future projects, seal ponds, and yes they are very yummy. So, in order to keep our little herd of swine going, we invested in a new boar pig to be friends with our sows.

Why we keep Pigs

On our homestead every animal has work to do. Dogs keep predators at bay. Chickens produce meat, eggs, and compost. Ducks help with bugs, produce eggs, and liquid fertilizer (i.e., duck pond water). Goats clear land and will soon give milk. However, of all our animals the pigs are perhaps the hardest workers with the most varied job descriptions.

Our pigs have cleared nearly an acre of land in less than a year (bear in mind for most of that time we only had 2 of them). They are complete power houses when it comes to clearing out grass, shrubs, and even small trees. They even took some pretty size-able chunks out of an old stump. Nothing holds up against them for long. Granted a human can do a more thorough job in many cases, however, pigs clear all this stuff out while you do something else. Its like magic! At the very least it has saved me countless days of work!

Pigs next to a sealed pond.
The pigs next to the garden pond after they had sealed it.

Pigs are also experts at trapping water. In all but the best draining soils pigs find a way to pack it together to make wallows. This trait of theirs can be manipulated to trapping water on a much larger scale as well, like ponds. As long as there is a decent percentage of clay in your soil (ours is really high) then pigs can seal that pond up without any external clays needing to be brought in! I have watched our pigs seal several ponds now and it is absolutely amazing!

Finally pigs are great compost producers, they till their way through compost piles turning them and adding their manure to them as they go! Joel Salatin, and other homesteaders, have designed aspects of their composting system around this specifically. It can make turning piles of waste into compost a lot less labor intensive.

Of course, while they are doing all this work, they are also making bacon. Passive bacon producing labor machines. That is what pigs are. Who doesn’t want that on their homestead?

How we keep Pigs, i.e., Our New Boar Pig

Last year we picked up two pigs. A boar and a sow that were related. Our plan was to eat the boar and eventually breed the sow. Well, since they lived together they decided to go ahead and breed without asking our permission. What can I say you live and learn on the homestead. So now we have lots of pigs, but we still ate Frank (the boar). Of the 7 piglets produced from the litter we plan on keeping one gilt in addition to the original sow. The rest we will either sell or harvest.

However, we still needed a new boar. No relatives this time, we are not in the deep south here after-all. So we went out and found a pure bread Mangalista boar (turns out ours are not pure but we already suspected that). Introducing him to our other young boars was a bit rocky but after some time being near them they have bonded rather well. We also had to train him to an electric fence which took a bit of time. However, now he is all set. We are considering calling him Yeti (because he is so hairy) and with any luck he will be our stud big when he grows up a bit.

We keep all our pigs in electric fencing. It is the only thing we have had luck with for pig fencing. Most pigs only have to touch an electric wire once or twice before they figure out they want to avoid it. Our new boar pig was no different. The beauty is, once they are trained they wont touch the fence even when the power is off. I have had the fence go down for a week or two at a time and the pigs still would not risk it! However, if left long enough they will eventually figure out that the electric fence won’t hurt them anymore and have to be retrained. So do not rest on your laurels with your fencing.

Yeti and one of our boars.
Yeti (left) and one of the boars our sow had (right).

With any luck we will have more piglets next year to keep pushing the homestead along to reach our goals!

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