Soiling their beds

  • Pigs urinate and defaecate at regular intervals during the day, except for a lengthy rest period between 7 pm and 6 am when their day starts.
  • Pigs are naturally clean.
  • If they have enough room they will use part of their pen for sleeping, part for eating, and part as a toilet.
  • When changing to a new pen, let them have a good run around and empty out before putting them in their new pen.
  • Damp the dunging area in the new pen and place some of their dung there.
  • Don’t let pigs scour on their bed. Fix the scouring problem.
  • Put a false roof over their sleeping area to make it more comfortable for resting and sleeping.
  • Clean them out at night rather than in the morning. Put plenty of bedding and some feed pellets where the soiling of their bed occurs.

Stress and distress

Some stress is acceptable but when it gets too bad, then it’s called distress which is very harmful to health and welfare. Causes of stress are many and here are some that have been studied. They’re all part of poor husbandry and neglect:

  • Chilling
  • Overheating 
  • Physical injury
  • Poor sanitation
  • Poor ventilation
  • Overcrowding
  • Bullying
  • Dampness, draughts
  • Genetic makeup
  • Weaning
  • Castration
  • Lack of feed and water
  • Nutritional deficiency
  • Internal and external parasites
  • Disease
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excess noise

Tail and ear-biting

This is usually a problem of pigs kept intensively and usually starts 4-22 days after weaning. Outdoor pigs generally have other more interesting things to do!

  • Check ventilation -for the build-up of foul air (ammonia) and high humidity.
  • Check for chilling and overheating.
  • Identify the aggressor (if you can) and remove it to a separate pen.
  • Remove the bitten pigs and treat them.
  • Provide toys in the pen - eg. chains, paper sacks, straw, balls, and stone-filled cans.
  • Make sure there is adequate feeding and drinking space.
  • Reduce the stocking rate in the pen. Don’t exceed 120kg live weight per square metre of floor.
  • Group pigs of similar size. Often a large pig in the pen becomes the aggressor.
  • Change the feeding system or physical form of the feed.
  • Ensure the diet is fully balanced with adequate trace elements.
  • Avoid mixing pigs.
  • Change from flop-eared to prick-eared breeds.

Taming pigs

  • Tame and friendly pigs perform better and are more profitable.
  • Taming is best done by gentle handling young pigs at feeding time, laying your hands on their backs, talking to them in low tones, and stroking and scratching them.
  • The best areas to touch are behind the ears, shoulders, and along the back, and down their sides.
  • Complete taming can be done in 2-3 weeks.
  • Mature wild pigs that are aggressive may never tame.