The Family of Suidae (Swine) is composed of 16 species of hogs in eight genera. The Suids originated in southern Eurasia: the Philippines and Africa. The domestic pig was developed from the wild boar. The boar fossils go back 30,000,000 years in Asia and Europe. Africa fossils date from 15,000,000 years..
Swine has been very adaptable and throughout Europe they were domesticated, many escaped and interbred with wild boars, which in turn as an interbreeding third type of swine.
The recent history of the Middle Ages with Henry the VIII, an avid swine hunter developed in his time a boar spear that was so impressive it was issued to all his troops. This was before or about the time of gunpowder. Sport hunting of wild Sus Scrofa by the use of spears, today, in the USA remains popular with the same spear design. Hunting guides have posted their web sites with pictures of 1500 lb. hogs being killed by avid hunters.
Although this sport may, or may not interest you, wild or domestic hogs are good eating. However wild hogs usually weigh in the 160 to 450 lb. Range pigs are herd animals with one dominate male. Young males are driven off from the herd to form their own herds. Currently it is estimated that there is about 5,000 hogs free ranging in the USA, mostly in the southern states.
These wild hogs are a major nuisance. In fact they are so destructive as a herd animal they are “rooting” up valued gardens, golf courses, farm crops and gated community lawns. This rooting is often encouraged by the New York apartment writers on back to the land writings as an alternative to the use of a garden tiller. From my observation is that if you contemplate raising swine you do so at your own peril as you will need a tractor and discs to clean up the deep furrows.
Savage Arms.com has developed a new “Hog” rifle in .308 caliber with a threaded muzzle for a sound suppressor, other wise known as a silencer. The license for this silencer is $300.00 to the Government plus purchase of a silencer, (so you do not disturb neighbors at 4:A.M.) is about $1,200.00 on the average. Some people make their own silencers, however you still have to license it.
Virginia has three feral hog populations, one near Floyd, and the others on the coast. I have been thinking that as this countryside becomes more overgrown, they like the bears and smaller wildlife will visit me. To keep them out of my garden I had built a substantial deer fence. (See my article on Deer Fencing). But, alas this is not going to keep pigs out. So in research I look at what modern hog ranching has to offer. Nothing!
Reading about Colonial Times when the first settlers came over on the early sail in the 1600’s they brought domesticated pigs with them. Since it is difficult to carve out a homestead and keep animals at the same time, many hogs escaped and interbred with wild swine. Those early settlers with many work hands had learned from experience in Jolly Olde England and Germany about keeping pigs. These animals have poor eyesight. Hence you build a board fence they cannot see through vice the common wire fence sold today from which they usually climb over or root under. Build your board fence stoutly and five foot high.
So now when I get the budget for boards I will board in my lower level of the deer fence. Work is never ending it seems. But since a big garden, once in productivity is worth about $2,500.00 to me in food an hour with a herd of hogs is zero.
Keeping domesticated pigs as a dinner guest reflects on your intent. Some breeds, as an aside to this topic, were raised solely as lard pigs. Lard was used on axels and bearings and was in common use to lubricate most anything with friction prior to the use of petroleum oil/grease development. Lard pigs provided lamp oil and basis for food storage-hence the term “larders”. Pork has been a mainstay for diets for thousands of years, which implies you are interested in raising a pig for meat.
You will have to make a large pig yard, probably 400-500 square feet with a berthing-winter shelter, a food corner, a pig poop corner, (Pigs are clean if allowed to be) and a water/mud wallow. If you have the space, you can supplement their feed by becoming a swine herder and have them follow you a field so they can find acorns, truffles and other delicacies in the grasses. Once full, the trained pigs will follow you home and into their yard. In old Germany, there was a town pig man who would gather the pigs kept at each household in the morning and with a weighted whip herd them all to the woods for forage. In the evening, the pigs would know where their yard (Sty) was and await him the next day. Children had the duty to bring kitchen scraps (slops) to feed the greedy pigs in the late afternoon.
Actually on a farm setting with milch cows and goats, garden produce turned brown, eggs, dead chickens and offeral from slaughtering makes for a pig food plate each day. Pigs are a good source of cleanup. Waste not-want not.
You will need winter hay for their winter house; the brood sow gets cold easily even though she looks fat and hairy. You could keep her in the barn, but if she does not have a poop corner the pig poop is fragrant and the odor is hard to remove. Pig waste is not a great garden additive.
Sows will give you a litter of piglets at 18 months and continue to get bigger and bigger for 4 or 5 years. Moving big pigs requires a “hurdle”, a big piece of cardboard that shields you and appears to be a big wall to the pig herds them in your desired direction. Chasing pigs is a losing task.
Male pigs are best separated from one another as in breeding season they are aggressive. You will have to remove the tusk teeth and castrate them as piglets or you will regret it.
The tusks that grow are for fighting as well as rooting. Also if you do not want rooting-which you do not-ring the nose.
Gestation lasts for about four months, then the sow is ready to breed again and again. This is the problem with wild swine in a herd as many as a hundred traveling six to ten miles a day and destroying everything. They even eat the bark off your apple trees.
Many people want pigs but lack the experience, research and facilities to keep them. Probably the worst part of pig keeping is butchering which is god awful hard work in scalding and scraping, then the easy part of laying out the pig and the actual cutting up. You might consider a smoke house before this event. A tractor with a lift is recommended although a gallows pole with a swivel top, a platform for laying the pig on and a 55-gallon barrel for heated scalding water is feasible. The actual killing requires a humane approach and can be accomplished with a knife. Offeral goes back to the other living pigs.
God Bless our farmers in China who now own the USA pig industry.
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