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Pigs & cold weather.

Cold weather requires some planning for homesteaders who keep hogs over the winter months.

In the area of proper nutrition, thought and extra effort must be given to available supplies of fresh ice-free water at all times for all classes of hogs: the baby pig, the weanling, growing-finishing, gestating, and the lactating sow.

The growing-finishing pig will roughly require 2-2.5 pounds of water for every pound of feed consumed. The gestating and lactating sow will require 4.5 to six gallons per day.

Watering equipment that will continue to flow during below-zero weather is a must.

A daily supply of fresh palatable feed sometimes becomes a problem during extremely cold conditions. Ice forms in feeder cups, feed will not feed from feeders properly and pigs are automatically placed on a limited ration. Consequently, gain is restricted.

Another problem is the feeder allowing too much feed. Pigs become wasteful and the feed is pushed out on the ground, and chances for consumption are small. Proper adjustment and feeder check at least three times weekly will generally solve these problems.

If your feed costs 12[cents] a pound, every 10 pounds of feed wasted each day amounts to $438 per year. Ten pounds of feed is often wasted each day with a poorly adjusted feeder. Worn out feeders and overcrowding of feeders also add to feed loss.

Farrowing units must be warm, comfortable, and dry. A farrowing house temperature of 70-75 degrees F. and a nest or sleeping area temperature of 90-95 degrees F. for newborn pigs are optimum.

Keep them comfortable

Newly weaned and growing-finishing pigs must be made comfortable. A chilled pig is a high cost pig.

Bedding needs and availability should be considered. The pig in a cold gravity ventilated building will do an outstanding job of converting feed and daily gain if comfortable. If not, the producer will be disappointed in performance but it's not the pigs' fault.

What about the sudden three-day snow storm with 10 or 12-foot snow drifts? A planned program on how to operate at this time is essential. Feed supply, water needs, bedding, equipment to remove snow and extra labor are all part of the top swine producer management program.

External parasites are sometimes neglected during the extreme cold weather months just at the time when these parasites are probably most active. Lice and mange control measures should be planned and worked into the schedule of events.

Movement of breeding and market hogs during the cold weather requires extra protection from the cold wind. Bedding, which is the same as a blanket for man, will help in pig comfort and will enable the pig to perform its mission. Avoid loading hogs up an ice-covered trail into a slippery loading chute. Pigs that can't walk when they reach your home or market are of little value.

Looking for the "weak link" in your wintertime hog management phase of operation and correcting this weakness now will go a long way toward a successful wintertime operation.

Many homestead pigs aren't overwintered

Most homesteaders who raise a few pigs for their own use don't keep them over winter. Fall is the traditional butchering season - and with good reason.

On old-time farms most pigs were born in spring, when the need for supplemental heat was decreased or eliminated. The modern homesteader - one who doesn't raise a few extra hogs to sell - probably buys weaned feeder pigs. But even where they're available year-around, Spring is still the best time to start.

If a homestead has surplus milk or eggs, it's most likely to be in the spring. Young pigs will benefit most from these.

As the pigs grow, even if they're not on pasture they can make use of garden trimmings and surplus and kitchen waste from cooking and food preserving.

Cull potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes and other root crops will be harvested as the hogs reach slaughter size. And the corn, barley or other grains used for finishing are also at their peak supply, and usually at their lowest cost.

Then on a brisk fall day the pig is butchered. The meat cools down quickly as the overnight temperature drops, but the next day is pleasant again when the sides are cut into family-size pieces.

In the days before electric freezers, meat was sometimes frozen naturally, by winter weather.

And with fall butchering, there are no frozen water buckets and other cold weather barnyard unpleasantries to deal with.

This is living with the seasons, the cycles, naturally... and smart.
COPYRIGHT 1995 Countryside Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes related article on butchering pigs before winter
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Nov 1, 1995
Previous Article:Dorper sheep.
Next Article:Some things to consider before getting your first horse.

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