Build a Pig Infrastructure

Before you buy pigs, plan and build a fool-proof infrastructure first. Otherwise, it only takes less than a year when your few pigs you started with becomes a big herd. Then it becomes a problem. Make it fool-proof. Copy other pig farmer’s idea, if it makes sense to your farm. You want to make it fully convenient for yourself. A pig husband is a very hard task, and many people surrender as soon as the pig stench, pig unhealthiness and malady  becomes apparent, which can be solved with a good infrastructure.


How much land area do you have? Do you intend to let the pigs graze your pasture? Remember that pigs will dig into the soil until the land is not arable anymore. Therefore, regardless of the size of your land, if you want your pigs to graze, you need to manage the time and space to graze (HOWTO Manage Pig Pasture). If you plan to keep the pigs most of the time in their pens, ensure they have enough pen area and that there is a place for them to defecate (there is a trick to assigning the defecation area HOWTO Design a Pig Pen). Otherwise, swine (fecal and odor) pollution can quickly become a problem in about 2 weeks, and your neighbors may complain about it because you cannot stop the odor from being driven by the wind. I have a medium-sized herd, about 40, small and large, sows, gilts, piglets and boars. I prefer that most of the days the pigs will stay in a large pen. then in seasonal occasions, for land management, allow them to graze my small land area to prevent weed overgrowth. Of course, with movable electric fences to prevent them from going to undesired areas, like the flower or vegetable garden.

Border Control

The only effective method I know is electric fencing – cheap, easy to build, movable, and most importantly, pigs will respect it (maybe not with juvenile piglets therefore juvenile piglets are kept in a pen). Wire-mesh fences, hog fences, wooden boards, and much less pallets are not sturdy enough for pigs to breach. Pigs are very strong, if they want to eat or escape they will burrow, push and charge no matter how. (I was once run over by a pig and fell on my back.)  Then soon your boarded/wire fencing will break. But not with electric fencing; very reliable,  (I have a HOWTO Build a Pig Electric Fencing.)


Food Distribution

Feed pigs “en masse” but weighted, not “ad libiutum”, but healthy-converted feed (HOWTO Less-Is-More Nutritious Pig Feed. With proper feed management you can control the costs. Pig feeding are separated using temporary doors so that larger pigs cannot eat more than they should. Pigs can eat about 1/5 of their body volume. Over-feeding does not result to muscle mass but only more manure. Pigs upon reaching their juvenile age must have a Feed-Conversion-Ratio of 1:3 – meaning every 3 lbs. of feed they acquire 1 lb. of mass growth. Do not expect this FCR 1:3 on heritage pigs.  Build a trough for feeding pigs grouped by size. However, gilts prepared for farrowing must eat healthy therefore, gilts have their own closed sub-pens with their own feed trough. 

Water Distribution

The best method is an aluminum water nipple within a wall-mounted water basin. Water is either feed from the main water line or from an elevated water repository outside of the pig pen. There should be enough amount of water stations for the amount of pigs you have, also different height levels for different pig sizes. The gilt/sow/farrowing area need to have its own water station for each sub-pen.



Pigs need to roam so they are not stressed. Stress leads to abnormal growing pace, sickness, and fighting amongst pigs. The larger the herd, the bigger the roaming area. Farrowing sub-pens (per “Bacon” law) requires 120 sq. ft., that is, maybe if you are a commercial breeder. My solution is to allow gilts, farrowing and sows to use the regular roaming area, but keep them in their sub-pens. But how do you keep other pigs from occupying a sow sub-pen? See HOWTO Assign sleeping areas for Farrowing Sows.


Boar Area

Why are you keeping a boar? Boars just eat and mate, and most especially butchered (a dead end). Male piglets that are destined for culling (and castrated) can mingle together in the same pen as the sows. But if you intend to keep a boar for reproduction, it belongs on another pen separate from the herd pen. But then again, why do you keep a boar unless you do Artificial Insemination (HOWTO Collect Semen and AI)? The costs of boar upkeep are more than the value of a boar unless it has s a good genetic line – for continuous breed-type production or produces piglets with the expected muscle-to-fat ration or produces semen with mostly female chromosomes (see hotNEWS Sex-Sorting Semens for a Higher Pig Production. Then you are in the boar business which is a niche of its own.

Sell or Slaughter

When it is time to sell or reap the rewards, you need to have tools, utilities and a holding area. 

If you are selling the pig alive, try not to allow customers in your farm; keep them in a person-person selling area. This prevents contagions that will kill your herd (see hotNEWS The OnSlaught of the African Swine Fever). Instead have them choose the pig of their choice in a realtime video identifying the ear tag ID once they make the choice. Separate the chosen pig in a holding area. If the sale did not happen, do not intermix the pig back to the herd. 

If you are going to slaughter the pig for yourself or for selling by parts, then you need to have a slaughter area that is free from flies and insects. You would need a “pig-hang-utility”, scalding area and butchering area, all sanitized for a clean butchering procedure. Plus, you also need a refrigeration area to wait for rigor mortis (HOWTO Set Rigor Mortis on a Pig). Lastly you need a storehouse to preserve all that meat you produced for later consumption or to sell later.


It is not very hard to build a pig infrastructure. Start small so you can manage all the different tasks, but surely a single person cannot do this.  I warn you, the herd will grow on you, especially because there is a lot of meat on a single pig, more than enough for you. And also . buyers think that farm-raised pigs are cheaper than grocery pigs – WRONG! (see hotNEWS Have you seen how pigs are grown by CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation?) Compare that with how your pigs are fed, the meat may taste the same, but you know what you are eating. Remember, you are what you eat. Happy Oinking.