With the unplanned additions to my hog sounder (I’m not sure of the age cut off but I think the three in the pasture may be too old to be considered a “drift” so I’m going with sounder) I needed to make new plans for living arrangements. I had temporarily enlarged the night pen but wanted to move it into the middle of the pasture and “build” out in spokes to create smaller pastures where I could rotate them (and re-seed behind them as they rooted up the pasture.) This is going to be done in increments, both because of the expense and the time involved in putting up fencing. In the meantime, I created another temporary, but larger, night pen in the center of the pasture which will become permanent once I decide on a final design. It will need a better shelter than just a tarp, and the pigs have outgrown the dog house I had initially given them for shelter.
One of the big issues is water. Hogs don’t sweat and therefore create “wallows” on order to keep cool. In the original night pen, the hogs had simply just jumped into their water trough which was unsanitary not to mention meant I was constantly having to haul hoses out to refill the trough. So I spent some time Googling raising pasture pigs and discovered hog “nipples” as well as some creative ways to use hog nipples to provide water. Unlike the waterers used for small animals, these are designed for the hog to bite down to release water.
The first hitch was trying to find a food grade 55 gallon plastic barrel locally. The local pawn shop had plastic barrels but they had previously contained oil so those were not suitable. He also had some 275 gallon water totes which supposedly were food grade. While that seemed a great solution, when I looked at the containers it was clear that there were two major issues with using one as a hog waterer. First, the issue of cleaning it on a regular basis, and second fitting the hog nipples just wasn’t possible given the small opening at the top, the overall height and the fact that the nipples needed to be placed low on the container.
So after giving it some thought I figured using a plastic trash can might work as long as I could elevate it and stabilize it so the hogs couldn’t push it over. The guys at the local hardware store took the two nipples I provided and put together a hog waterer that would be easily cleaned and large enough to hold sufficient water for a week. I wanted to have two nipples to minimize fights at the waterer. The waterer was duly installed by placing in on top of an overturned empty bucket that had held cattle mineral (2.00 at the feed store) and four fence posts were pounded in around both to make a cage of sorts. Finally, bailing twine (the farmer’s version of duct tape) was used to tie the trash can to the fence posts to secure it. Several hoses were then screwed together to run from the frost free hydrant to the trash can. After the nipples were tightened down to stop the water leaking, the can was filled and I waited to see how well it would work. I had left the water trough in the partially dismantled original night pen and I suspect the hogs continued to use it for drinking throughout the week as I never saw a hog at the new waterer. However, today while I was out in the pig pasture pounding in rebar for the new fencing, I finally saw the gilt at the waterer. By the time I got there with my camera (phone) Ham-let had joined her.
I tried showing the hogs the second nipple on the other side, and finally Hamlock and Ham-let caught on. Of course, that meant the (unnamed as of yet) gilt had to come see if it was better on that side. Which meant that Ham-let was able to sneak back to the first nipple and have a drink.
The next step is to run a permanent water line from the frost free hydrant out to the waterer and install a float so that it automatically refills. I haven’t decided yet whether I’m going to haul the water trough out for them to use to cool off in or just create a wallow by tossing a couple of gallons of water out every day to keep one spot muddy.
Reminder: Naming Contest ends Monday, April 18 which is the official tax day this year.