Sunday, December 25, 2011

A little farming

Well, between the government agencies, employee issues and lawsuits, I get to do a little farming. 

 This is the view from the end of the large greenhouse, doing its offseason job of providing livestock shelter.  I'm doing a deep-litter type approach here -- there's about a foot of fresh wood chips under the pigs.   There's one large feeder in with the pigs, and two outside the pen that we'll rotate in as its consumed. 

 (To see the greenhouse in the main use, click here.  )

  I run a panel across the greenhouse, and woven-wire fencing along the edges to keep the pigs off the plastic, and to keep any pigs that get out of the electric fence in the greenhouse. 
 These little guys are small enough that they can slip under the electric fence setup we have, but I don't worry about them too much.  They mostly snooze and hang around the extra feeders, and eventually will usually go back in with the main herd, but they're well-contained by the greenhouse and no bother to me, so I let them be. 
 Here's the view from the middle of the greenhouse back towards the feeders.  There's 75 or so pigs in this pen.  I've set it up this way so that there's an alley for the tractor all the way along one side; makes it easier to bring in new chips or supplies as needed.  Once the pigs have been on this side of the greenhouse for a while, I'll move the alley to the other size. 
 At this time of year we have to deal with the automatic waterers freezing, and we do that by switching to smaller bowls of water.  I don't use a trough here because of the varying sizes of pigs; the smaller ones have a hard time dealing with the height of the trough, but everyone can drink out of the bowls.  They'll turn the bowls over and wet the wood chips, and this is where I'll need to add more chips, I note. 
the space is big enough that the pigs can spread out and have some alone time, or cuddle up.  When they sleep like this I know that the bedding is warm enough that they don't feel the need to cuddle up; the wood chips compost and provide heat for the pigs, and the warmer and nicer the bedding, the less feed they consume to put on weight.  Plus I like to see lazy, contented pigs snoozing and grumbling and basically having a nice winter day together. 


Walt said...

Hi Bruce,
I was thinking about using a greenhouse for winter pig housing but was concerned that the pigs leaning or rubbing on the greenhouse frame would cause problems. Have you had any problems with this? Thanks.


Bruce King said...

You do have to keep the pigs off the plastic; they're not really big thinkers, and if they get ahold of it, they'll tear it up.

So in the pictures, click on them and look closely at the side of the greenhouse. When we put it up we put up a double rail of 2x4. One at ground level, one about 24" up. Attached to that is 36" woven-wire fencing. In the growing season that's a trellis for stuff that likes to climb -- peas and beans and so on -- and in the off season it keep the pigs off the plastic. The frame of this greenhouse is 5' schedule 80 pipe (read: Thick steel pipe) driven 2' into the ground, and the greenhouse fram is slipped into the top of it, with the spacing being every 4', so it's pretty strong. A pig or two leaning against it isn't really going to hurt it.

But I do watch the pigs. If I'm concerned I run a single strand of electric along the edge of the greenhouse and that keeps the pigs off it 100%

The 2x6 rails are just a handy, easy way to attach things; anytime I put up a greenhouse I do them now. Easy to tie to, nail or screw to, and provide a standoff for chicken wire, panels or fencing.

I talk about the rails in this post, along with pictures of the damage that turkeys did trying to peck at water drops on another greenhouse I built.