Pigs on Pasture!

The pigs are graz­ing, root­ing, sniff­ing, and explor­ing their new pas­ture. They are so happy I can’t describe it in words. As soon as I released them from their tem­po­rary train­ing pen, they started eagerly explor­ing the whole area and soon were run­ning and run­ning all over the place. Its a truly beau­ti­ful sight.

Tran­si­tion­ing the pigs to pas­ture took some plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion, but in the end it went very smoothly. After I got their A-frame sit­u­ated in the field, I built a tem­po­rary pen for elec­tric fence train­ing. I pounded some U-posts into the ground and then just built up some walls with skids and old boards. It was not very pretty, but it was easy to set up and it served its purpose.

I built three sides of the pen and then set up the elec­tric net­ting as the fourth wall. Then I set up more boards on the other side of the net­ting. This is the secret to train­ing pigs to the fence. Pigs don’t have the best eye­sight so the thin strands of the net­ting are eas­ily missed. Putting up a phys­i­cal bar­rier behind the net serves two pur­poses. It helps them see the net­ting bet­ter and it pre­vents them from barg­ing through the net­ting in panic when they first get shocked, which is often their instinc­tual reaction.

When the day finally arrived for the big move, I put up some tem­po­rary ply­wood sides on the bed of my pick-up truck and filled it with hay. Then I backed it right up to their pen in the barn­yard and my dad posi­tioned him­self in the truck while Gal­lagher and I caught the pig­gies one by one and handed them up to him. Gal­lagher used a 4x4 piece of ply­wood to help herd the pigs into a cor­ner and then I swooped in and grabbed a hind leg. The pigs are about 50 lbs. now I would guess–I won’t be able to pick them up pretty soon! Pick­ing them up by the a hind leg is the best way to do it. It doesn’t hurt them and they don’t strug­gle very much as soon as you have them in the air, but they do scream. They’re not in any pain, but they scream bloody mur­der. Its so loud it really does hurt your ears. And then the sec­ond you set them down on their feet again and let go, they stop.
We got them all in the truck very quickly and they stood calmly for their slow ride out to pas­ture­land. We backed the truck up to the pen and did the exact oppo­site maneu­ver. All of them got a shock from the fence within sec­onds of explor­ing their new space and quickly learned to avoid that wall as they went about rip­ping up the grass and root­ing around for bugs.

Soon they were right at home. They were in the pen for two days to make sure they had been trained, then this morn­ing I took down the walls and let them roam. As they explored the pad­dock, just like the rap­tors in Juras­sic Park, they each tested the fence in a few places, got a shock, let out a brief yelp, and scur­ried back in the other direc­tion. What smart pigs! I’m so proud of them.

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