Normally we herd pigs using our hands or sorting boards but occasionally the situation calls for tighter control such as when a pig is being uncooperative. In such a situation a piece of stock panel fencing bent around in a circle and clipped with caribiners makes an easy portable container for pigs like these four little guys.[1, 2]
We could pick them up and carry them but pigs really don’t like being picked up. It reminds them too much of a predator grabbing them. Humans, dogs and cats pickup their babies and cuddle them – It’s a warm fuzzy feeling to us. Sows don’t pickup their pigets, unless they’re going to eat them. Being picked up reminds a piglet of Chere Fox who has ulterior motives. So when possible, moving them along the ground is a better alternative.
Generally a good line of sight trail that is scent marked works fine for moving the pigs but sometimes additional measures are needed. We had herded them from the north field down to the sorting area and separated them from the other pigs but for the last leg of the journey to the loading chute to the van they got the wire cage treatment as one of them was acting very skitterish – something I’m working at breeding away from.
How pigs behave is controlled both by genetics, their temperament, and by handling, that is to say training. We and the dogs work to train the pigs from a young age through taming and working with them. They get called and herded every week, even many times a week. But there can still be skitterish pigs that don’t work well in the group. I cull these rather than keeping them as breeders.
Temperament is strongly genetic. Early on I identified the mean genes and cull those from our lines. Now I’m weeding the skitterish pigs. The result is pigs that are easier to manage out on the pastures.
You’ll note the three dogs are circling up the pigs. They’re in herding mode. Our dogs work both as guardians and herders. In this case they’re circling around the group to keep it as a compact unit which is one of the herding techniques they use. That’s Hanno on the left, not to be confused with his identical twin Sirius, on the right is Remus and Kavi on the far side.
Outdoors: 67°F/39°F Overcast
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/62°F
Daily Spark: If you freeze yourself to -273.15°C you’ll be 0K.