When Pigs Fly


Charlie Sow Jumping Gate

When pigs are properly motivated they can jump quite well, not even touching the hurdle as Charlie demonstrates above. Their leaping height is not as great as a dog’s but still fairly respectable given the pig’s stout body. One of our boars Spot easily cleared four foot fences if there was a lady to visit. The fact that he didn’t do it most of the time was simply because he had all his needs and desires on his side of the fence most of the time since he lived with the herd.

In the photo above Charlie is jumping the door into her nursery to get back to her piglets. During the warm months the sows build their nests of straw, sticks or bricks out in the margins of the pasture away from the herd (yes, just like the three little pigs). During the winter they can’t get the privacy they want since they naturally stay closer to home. To help them we provide a variety of private housing areas where they can easily defend their nests from other pigs coming in to their personal spaces.

The stall above in the south field shed is one such example. It has a small entrance that is easily protected so that Charlie can keep out other inquisitive noses. But when she wants to socialize, eat, gather hay or do her, er, business she can hop out to go where she wants. The stall to the left is closed to keep pigs out – just a matter of raising the bar and locking it with the verticals.

After a week or two sows often want to share a nursery. Charlie is now moved in with the sow Quartermane as I write this where the two of them share nursing duties for their piglets. During the summer we see this same thing as the individual sows join up into larger cohorts on pasture and then eventually bring their piglets to rejoin the herd if their in the big fields.

Outdoors: 72°F/43°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 70°F/67°F

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Daily Spark: Live a good, honorable life.. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time. -Folk Adage

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor…

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11 Responses to When Pigs Fly

  1. Great action photo! How many takes? Charlie could be the next RinTinTin.

    • About a couple dozen photos. I got some of her coming out, some going in, some back out and then back in. Using the quick multi-shutter I could get several as she did each jump. I was doing chores down there in the south field shed so it was a good opportunity.

  2. holly says:

    Everyone should take a good look at those way cool, innovative, concrete pillars. Walter designed them so that standard 2x boards could be used to put up easy, quick, secure walls allowing us to make and take down stall walls with ease. Big stall, no problem. Smaller stall, just as easy. Completely open shed for the whole herd, 1-2-3-done. We store the 2x in the rafters up above when they are not in use so that they are right there when we need them. Flexible, awesome design.
    -Holly

    • Terry says:

      Question, when the sows jump back in like the one in the photo aren’t you worried that she will jump on her piglets and kill them or at least break a leg etc.?

      • Her nursery is ~8’x12′ and the piglets are in the nest area which is in the back. The piglets move away even if they were near. We’ve never had a problem with the sow jumping in and landing on a piglet. Perhaps because she looks before she leaps. Literally. Before going in she stood there for probably 15 seconds looking in. Also of interest is Charlie avoided touching her water dish, both sides of the doorway, the gate and the roof beam – e.g., She threaded the needle very nicely. I’ve seen her do that many times. Given that she is moving so much mass it is pretty amazing to watch her jump.

  3. Sharon says:

    We learned all about flying pigs the first time we tried to load ours in a trailer! : )

  4. Patricia says:

    Hahaha, makes me think of when we tried to close our pig into a “farrowing crate” made from pallets. I never thought that pig could jump that high, and I sure as heck didn’t know she could CLIMB. Note to self: Do not tick off the pig.

  5. Susan Lea says:

    Cool pig, cool pillars, cool photo, cool post! I had no idea pigs would share nursing duties! Or that they could jump so high. Terry asked my question–I was picturing not-so-cool piglet pancakes on the other side!

    • This morning while Ben and I were doing chores in the south field shed piglets had jumped out of the nurseries and were enjoying the courtyard in amongst the herd, tasting milk from different sows, snuggling with a gilt who had a made a nest and enjoying winter life. When we got done working down there we herded the piglets back into one of the nurseries and raised the bar a little. They’re almost big enough to wean now but I don’t want them getting squashed lying in with 30,000 lbs of pork – the south field herd.

  6. Brandy says:

    We have one gilt-meeting her boyfriend this week-and are excited to expand to a few more pigs. I have been pouring over your site and not only find it very entertaining, but also full of incredible insight and advice. What a great farm you have-wish I was your next door neighbor!

  7. Dave says:

    A little different than your flying pigs, however… Pigs can fly, thanks to Delta Cargo. I just had a 9 week old boar flown from Oklahoma to Washington. He even made the news in his home town, now everybody is without excuses “when pigs fly”.

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