Building Portable Pig Pens
Several of us started a pig co-op this year. We purchased four pigs: two purebred Mangalitsas, and two Mangalitsa hybrids. We wanted to raise them and harvest them for meat for the community. However, in addition to providing food for us, the pigs can help in many other ways.
As a community we met together and made plans over this winter to expand the diversity of our orchard, and in order to plant more, the ground needs to be prepared for planting. Here’s where we can get some help from the pigs. By building portable pens, we are able to move the pigs all around the orchard. They are happy with all the fresh grazing, and we are happy because they are tilling up the ground for us and adding rich compost! Just by moving four pigs around the orchard several things happen. The pigs provide rich nutrition to the earth, they are able to enjoy the space and fresh air of the outdoors, we’ve reduced the amount of human work needed for tilling, and in the end we will have meat to be shared amongst all the members of the cooperative!
We kept the young pigs in a barn over the winter for protection, but as soon as it got warm we wanted to get them grazing in the the fresh air in the orchard.
1. We used livestock panels (provided for free by a farmer friend- thanks Jim!), some wire, a tarp, and several sets of hands. We bent the panel by walking it into the barn halfway then shutting the door on it. Technical procedure, I know, but it worked!
2. Then we overlapped two panels to make the pen taller, because our pigs are actually very big and healthy and can jump pretty high. We overlapped about one foot for stability instead of just stacking one on top of the other.
3. We fastened the corners and started wiring. We used heavy gauge wire to fasten the panels together, at a few places along the sides and ends, until it felt stable. Sue tested it out for us!
5. To keep the pens in place, we simply used string, hooks, and concrete blocks. We fastened some string (from hay bales) around a concrete block and fastened a hook on the other end of the string. These blocks add weight to help secure the pen, but when it comes time to move the pen, we simply unhook the blocks, move the pens, and hook the blocks up again. Easy!
These pens were easy to make as a group, cost no money, and are providing for our pigs, our orchard, and our community!
Til Next Time,