Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Using the pig carrier & Farrowing crates

Used the pig carrier for the first time today; this is it empty. It rides higher than version 1 because I moved the arm attachment points down quite a bit. Having the back up this far is good for ground clearance. Means you can go up a hill and not drag your tail.

You can see the original mounting hole in this photo. The new mounting point is about 12" above the bottom of the carrier.

Here's big momma, my oldest and biggest sow, in the carrier. She's about 600lbs, and is due any day. The little white bucket is how I loaded her. I coaxed her into the carrier by offering her the bucket and then having her take a step. She's a trusting pig and very sweet, which isn't what most people might think when they see a big sow; she's 4 going on 5 years old now; raised her from a piglet.

I'm happy with the height of the bars; even standing on her rear legs she couldn't get out, and the bars provide easy access; you can climb out more easily, too.
I don't have the carrier raised to maximum clearance here -- I want her to have a flat surface to stand on. Once the pig is loaded you can drive them anywhere you'd like. Really handy.

Here's the farrowing crate. The bar that you see at the top is a rump guard. The sow goes in, facing away from the tractor. There's a full feeder of food and a waterer on that end. To load her I open the door on the carrier, bungie cord it open, and then back the tractor right up to the crate. The food was sufficient lure to get her into the crate, and then the rump guard goes down. The rump guard allows you to open the rear door of the crate for access and not have the sow back out.

The silver sheets on either side of the crate doorway are pig areas; if you look into the doorway you can see a black surface; that's a cast-iron flooring. On either side is White plastic grating -- you can see some of it through the door. Around the whole thing is a 24" tall wall that keeps the piglets from falling out.
At the other end I have a propane infrared heater that will provide a warm area for the piglets to hang out in, and the cast-iron is designed to be uninviting to the piglets. The plastic is warmer (and safer) and the heater will make it even more inviting to sleep a little away from mom.

Big momma lost all of her piglets in her last litter, with the exception of one pig, that I took home and bottle fed. I'd like to keep her for a few more years, but can't do it if her piglets don't survive.

I've installed the crates in the hoophouse for now until the final permit stuff with the county is resolved and I can complete my barn; hoping that'll be in a month or so.


Anonymous said...

just bumped into your site - LOVE your mix of accounting, business practice and creative thinking. I have 50 laying hens, just got 30 cornish cross for meat and find I want to grow this "hobby" love it!
something about the birds, hatching, raising...etc.
I also like your practical approach to the numbers. I want to see how I can effectively grow the poultry process and my current question is what do you do with the birds that are old - past productive laying season?

Bruce King said...

I sell the birds at all ages; some folks want a chick, some want a chick that is past needing supplemental warmth, some folks want a point-of-lay pullet, some want a hen that is laying now. If I didn't manage to sell them they become my laying flock, and I keep them for 2 years, and in the third year sell them as enchilada birds, at $5 each. They're very popular at that price; I've been considering raising them to $7.

The full price list:
chick: $2
started chick: $5
point-of-lay: $18
Laying hen: $20
Enchilda: $5