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.
Pigs Fixing Fences
Fence Lines 2
Poultry Netting for Pigs
Moving Pigs With Fence Panels
Dumb Pig, Smart Pig
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Daily Spark: If you freeze yourself to -273.15°C you’ll be 0K.
So these piglets are being loaded for the butcher? I assume they are more willing when they are being moved to a new pasture?
These guys were going to people who had bought spring feeder weaner piglets. The issue here is they were moving down the driveway which is a path they never normally take. That path we normally move finisher sized pigs on and it is fenced for big pigs which means there are holes that small pigs could shoot through. Rather than deal with that possibility we simply used the fence.
Actually, when you are moving pigs, they don’t have any idea why you are moving them. Weather to nicer pastures or off to the butcher. They are not thinking about that. They are thinking about the fact that they are being herded. If it is a familiar path or a particularly well structured path (wide, clear view, solid sides, inviting direction, gradual curves) the pigs usually move easily. But the fact is that they’re strongest instinct is to go back to the most recently, familiar, safe place. (And they do have a very good sense of direction.) Even when moving them from a well eaten down pasture onto a new lush, invitingly luxurious, pasture, the pigs will tend to stay in the old pasture for a while. If you can just leave a gate open between the two areas, that is best. Then they will slowly migrate to the new field. You would think that they would run for the new beautiful green stuff that is now available. But they don’t. They feel safer in the current, known area. If you can get a leader pig to move in the right direction, that helps. The rest tend to follow. When moving animals, it is best not to be in a rush and it helps to understand what they are thinking cause it’s not the same as what the people are thinking.
Thanks for putting this idea out there. We had the hardest time moving our two pigs, but now they are a cinch to move!