Are you interested in learning how to keep backyard pigs healthy during winter in the cold?
How to keep backyard pigs healthy during winter was something I had worried about. To me, pigs look like very delicate 300 pound pink mammals with just a little bit of hair.
Surprisingly, pigs take on the cold temperatures quite well. As long as they have the correct care and nutrition, learning how to keep backyard pigs healthy during winter is definitely a breeze. If I can do it, you can, too!
I have cared for backyard pigs through some very cold temperatures. I’ve watched how they take the cold with ease without being sick. And, with that said, here are some important ‘how to keep backyard pigs healthy during winter’ necessities your piggies could use to help them get through the cold winter.
Listen to the Podcast:
So, the number one thing pigs need is a way to escape the brisk wind. They need some sort of shelter.
Shelter can include a shed or a barn. It does not have to be insulated or enclosed unless you are farrowing baby pigs. Baby pigs can’t regulate their body temperatures very well as newborns. Therefore, you’ll need to make sure your farrowing spot is warm and draft free.
Pigs older than two weeks or so will find other ways to stay warm but getting out of the wind will be a huge help.
So, our pigs are wintered in a three sided shed that is open to the south. And we provide bedding for them to keep warm during negative temperature nights and days.
Straw or old hay are used for snuggling up in the cold. We actually just throw in a small pup brome bale and let them make their own beds.
It is quite entertaining to watch them organize and prepare for an upcoming cold night. Pigs are so playful when given a new toy, such as a hay bale. It’s like we gave them a gift.
The bedding works for a few days until it gets rooted up into the ground. Just keep giving them some more as long as the cold temperatures stay vigilant.
A Nice Strong Snout
Have you ever touched a pig’s snout? It’s like a strong muscle.
Actually, their snout is just like a personal shovel. Pigs use their snout to dig and pick things up. And during extremely cold temperatures, they dig trenches into their bedding and dirt to huddle in. It is quite fascinating watching them do this.
You see, pigs are extremely hard and fast workers when it comes to using their snouts. If they can feel another cold night coming, they will dig their trenches quickly and snuggle in together. And all that hard work makes a piggie thirsty! They need a lot of water in the winter time.
I’m going to be straight and honest with you. Watering pigs in the winter is not a fun job. For a few reasons:
1. You can only use rubber buckets or rubber tubs since all the other ones freeze.
2. The pigs think these buckets and tubs are toys and remove them from their places along the fence. Not cool, pigs.
3. Finally, they spill the water after you’ve taken the time to fill their tubs. They proceed to try to drink the water off the frozen ground.
4. Believe me…watering pigs in the summertime out of a tube with a nipple is WAAAAAY easier! They still drink a lot of water in the winter time.
So, in one day, four pigs can consume four 5-Gallon buckets of water. At least, that’s how much I typically bring to the pigs and they slurp up what they don’t spill or play in.
Also, I have found that if I water the pigs twice a day, they eat much better. And consuming plenty of high protein diet is important as well.
Because the more food the pigs eat, the warmer they will be. A quality high protein diet for the pigs during the cold winter months is important. There are many options for pig feeds, too. Here are a couple of them:
1. Purchase complete pig diet from a feed store.
2. Use or buy local grains to grind and mix a ration.
My suggestion to you is to use local grains and work with an area nutritionist. This will help to make your feed cheaper. You can take anything you want or have to the feed mill to be ground and mixed.
But remember: The ration needs to be balanced. Just like balancing your meals, pigs need a variety of certain nutrients each day. So, work with a nutritionist to get the best ration possible.
Pigs also make excellent garbage disposals. So, they can eat almost anything off your plate. Except the plate itself. Any produce or leftovers you have, they will not be wasted. The pigs will enjoy them as an extra snack.
Hair and Body Cover
A nice covering of hair and fat on a pig will help them tremendously to stay warm in the cold elements. It’s like the pigs are wearing a fluffy coat. Without the fluff.
And they’ve also been saving up for this season all through the fall months. Storing away and building up weight and cover and growing hair for winter.
So, they really do stay warm. Pigs take the cold better than I ever would have imagined. It’s almost as if they love it. But there are some other factors that may affect your plan to winter backyard pigs.
Factors That May Affect Winter Health
All of the above tips for how to keep backyard pigs healthy during winter. But keep in mind that the age and size of the pigs might play a card in how much element your pigs can handle.
For example, a little feeder pig just weaned from it’s mother may still not be healthy. Stress along with the cold can influence symptoms of pneumonia and other issues.
As a rule of thumb, you definitely want to have a good relationship with a vet nearby who can help you if you encounter health problems with your piggies. I’ve not yet had to treat a pig or call a vet about pigs during cold weather. They seem to take it very well in the cold weather.
Cold Weather Is Healthy
Seriously. As much as you nor I want to admit, a cold winter is actually a blessing in disguise. For a couple of reasons:
1. Parasites freeze and are not an issue.
2. Cold temperatures actually help combat sickness.
Those are the main two reasons but I’m sure there are more. As long as the pigs stay dry, they will stay warm. And if you provide shelter and bedding, they will have a warm and dry place to snuggle.
So, Now You Know How To Keep Backyard Pigs Healthy During Winter
You know they need shelter, bedding, nutrition and a plan just in case their health does turn south. And when the weather turns south down the road to cold, you definitely need to be prepared to keep the pigs healthy.
In conclusion, pigs are a fun addition to any backyard homestead or farm and in any season of the year. A little cold doesn’t hurt the pigs. And when you see them snuggled together, you’ll wish you could snuggle up with them.