Food_security

FOOD SECURITY

KEEPING FREE RANGE PIGS

Pigs are highly intelligent animals, very friendly and can be kept as pets but most people who have available space will bear pigs for their meat. This is the next stage up in keeping a garden farm and leading a more comprehensively self-sufficient life. In this article we will have a quick check at the myths and facts associated with keeping these animals:

Mariri Mamabolo
mamabolomg@thevillagemag.co.za


01 DECEMBER 2020

1. Pig myths

Although pigs are often given very bad press and portrayed as being greedy dirty. This is simply very far from the truth. True, they get hungry and of course like to eat, and yes, they make (pig) noises when they eat but that is because they are after all; pigs. Pigs will eat anything, they are classified as forages and rioters; meaning they will clear your land undergrowth, devour any kitchen and or garden surpluses. And turn all this into meat for your table

They are also very useful at digging up your vegetable plot at the end of the season and also while they are at it; they will provide your soil with invaluable manure. It is untrue that pigs smell, they do not! The (bad) odor/smell they exhume only occurs as a result of the smelly food they consume, this is entirely the fault of their owner/keeper and or breeder. Traditionally, commercial pig farmers would fill giant vats with pig swill-waste food collected from local restaurants and households and then boiled up which will then be boiled up resulting in a substance with a very pungent smell and hence a pig’s reputation for smelling. Fortunately, this practice has now ceased as nowadays pigs are fed on commercially produced feed.

3. Pigs keeping principles

One of the major factors to be considered when keeping pigs is space. A happy pig is a free range pig with plenty of open space and shelter. Electric fencing is the easiest option, being easy to install and maintain. It is also portable and efficient at containing animals. Pigs naturally root, which means that they dig up the earth; in doing so will create mud. You will need to at least 150 square feet which is approximately 13 935 square meters per pig to keep mud problems from developing, and in wet areas, this figure can be treble. Many pig keepers will move pigs around if the ground becomes too muddy. Pigs need shelter that protects them from bad weather elements particularly from harsh wind and the sun – as they can suffer from the wind and sunburn.

Two pigs can be housed in an A frame hut that can either be specifically bought or made from lumber, corrugated iron and or staw bakes with corrugated iron roof. The housing needs to be strong so that the pigs cannot trample or eat it, which they will do whenever they get a chance. They do not need to be confined to an area in the garden. If you have the land, they will enjoy roaming in woodland, feeding on wild food such as acorns, sweet chestnuts, and elderberries. Pigs must be fed regularly every day and depending on their ages, the most satisfying part of feeding time will be when you delight in them eating up all your kitchen scraps. Keep a “pig bucket” in a cupboard near the kitchen sink so that you can scare all the leftovers into it and give to them as part of their diet.

You can throw almost everything you eat into the pig bucket, including eggshells, milk and eggs. But do not give pigs meat. Most kitchens (households or commercial) would not be able to enough waste from scarps alone. This then means that you will need to supplement their diet with a complete pig mix that will be supplement their dietary requirements, pig feed can be procured from your nearest animal feed store. Pigs must also have access to constant supply of clean fresh water every day. Consult your nearest veterinary center for any medical requirements which may need your attention.