Regarding feed sources for home-raised pigs: Many supermarket chains will gladly “donate” outdated or overripe fruits, vegetables, and cheeses, due to the cost of container disposal. This often includes apples, melons, citrus, tomatoes, avocados, and even prepackaged salad greens, berries and herbs. Even a relatively small store will have 2-3 trash cans full, daily. They may even provide containers if they are emptied on a regular basis and kept clean.
Commercial bakeries and baked goods outlets often provide bear hunters with barrels of donuts, snack cakes, and breads during hunting season. Ask them if you can take care of the unsweetened “scraps” outside of the hunting season.
Most areas also have some form of a microbrewery or brew-pub within close proximity. The leftover hops and barley can even be mixed with feed.
A nice roast, some chops, or some home smoked bacon in return could go a long way to keeping a “supplemental food source” producing for many seasons.
Thank you for all you do and have a very merry 2014! – Todd L. in Maine
Mountain Top Patriot wrote an excellent introduction to raising a few piggies for the homestead. Pigs are indeed smart and friendly creatures if you treat them humanely. One tip I might suggest, we’ve raised from 2 to 12 weaners each year for the last 13 years on our little farm, and we found that electric mesh netting (ElectraNet or similar) is a great tool to keep the piggies where you want them (and out of where you don’t). We use the netting and a portable pig hut to move our piggies around areas we want cleared e.g. where my pigs lived this year is where my garden will be next year.
For those not familiar, electric mesh netting is a plastic grid, with the horizontal wires interwoven with wire to carry the charge. Step-in type posts are attached to the mesh at proper intervals to allow easy set-up.
The fencing typically comes in approximately 50 meter (165 foot) lengths. So if you made a square enclosure with the netting, it would be about 40 feet on a side, about 1,600 square feet enclosed. This is enough area to keep 2 or 3 piggies in for a week or 10 days; you might have to move them more frequently as they get older, or you could add another length of mesh. Two lengths of fence combined could enclose an area of about 6,400 square feet, a seventh of an acre.
Pigs quickly learn not to touch the mesh. One trick is to position the step-in posts leaning in, so that the pigs are less like to bury the bottom wires of the fence with their rooting.
And of course with the portable mesh type fencing you are not limited to a square configuration. We have assembled many odd shapes when we wanted to put the pigs in a particular area to be cleaned out. And you can easily alter the shape to protect things you don’t want chewed up, e.g. fruit trees.
The fencing is a good barrier to predators, including bears, as well. – CSAfarmer