A feeder piglet is a pig that is raised for meat. They are usually no older than eight weeks old when purchased and weigh no more than about 35 pounds. Feeder piglets are typically raised for 4 to 6 months and are then slaughtered for meat.
Now that you know what a feeder piglet is, you should also know what to look out for when purchasing them, how to care for them, as well as the differences between the most common feeder piglet breeds.
Feeder Pig Breeds
- Hampshire: Small and lean pigs. Their high-muscle content and low levels of back fat result in meat with a good texture
- Duroc: As Duroc pigs are fed a foraging diet, the result is a very tender, flavorful meat
- Berkshire: Berkshire pork is pink-hued, heavily marbled, and prized for its juiciness, flavor, and tenderness
- American Yorkshire: Due to their low back fat and leanness, American Yorkshires make for great bacon and ham cuts
Purchasing Feeder Piglets
Where to Buy Feeder Pigs
You can buy feeder piglets either from a local farm or from auction. In our opinion, it is better to buy from a local farm because you can get a much better idea of how the farm-raised its pigs. Locally purchased farm pigs are also less susceptible to major problems than pigs purchased in individual groups from different locations.
In any case, look for feeder pigs that appear healthy, vigorous, and alert. If the pigs come from one farm make sure that the farm has a good health program in place, including parasite control and necessary vaccinations.
How Much Do Feeder Pigs Cost?
In regards to feeder pig prices, you can expect to pay around $50 at auction and as low as $20-25 from a local farm. Keep in mind that Spring piglets are more expensive to purchase, which is down to a couple of reasons.
Not only are Spring piglets more in demand because almost everyone wants to raise pigs in the summer when it’s easier to do so, but also because it’s harder to produce pigs that are born in the cold winter months.
How Should Feeder Pigs Be Transported?
The importance of transporting feeder piglets back to your farm is often overlooked but there are a couple of important guidelines to follow.
Firstly, it’s a good idea to disinfect the truck or trailer between loads. You also want to provide bedding with wheat or oat straw in the winter and wet sawdust or sand in the summer. Ensure that adequate ventilation is provided as well as shielding from direct drafts.
As best as you can, minimize excitement and abuse when loading the pigs, and allow adequate space for each pig.
Caring for Feeder Piglets
One of the most common causes of issues you might have with feeder pigs is to do with improper housing.
Firstly, before the new pigs arrive, make sure that you thoroughly clean and disinfect facilities and equipment like floors, walls, feeders and waterers.
When it comes to actually housing the new arrivals, you must remove all other pigs from the receiving facility to reduce the likelihood of a disease outbreak. This is non-negotiable and can significantly reduce costly disease losses.
If complete isolation isn’t possible, at the very least try and provide semi-isolation by leaving one or two empty pens between the newly arrived feeder piglets and the other pigs during the first 2 to 3 weeks.
Providing adequate ventilation and the proper temperature is very important. 75 degrees F is recommended, as is a warm, dry sleeping area.
To reduce fighting, promote faster growth, and improve efficiency, limit group sizes to only 25 to 30 pigs per pen. One waterer per 20 pigs should be enough.
How Much Space Do Feeder Piglets Need?
Generally, pigs require minimal space because they are not particularly active animals. Pigs stick to sleeping, eating, rooting, and not a whole lot else. This is therefore great news if you don’t have much space to work with.
The space feeder pigs need depends on whether you plan to house them in controlled-environment buildings or in outside lots. If in controlled-environment buildings, feeder pigs need approximately 1.8 to 3 square feet of floor space. If housed in outside lots, provide 3 to 4 square feet of well-bedded sleeping area for each pig.
Feeding Feeder Pigs
Considering how important nutrition and feed management is to pig performance, pig health, and well-being, it’s important that you get it right.
In the beginning, during the first week to 10 days, it’s best to feed the pigs about 90 percent of full feed to reduce gut edema and scouring problems. This generally works out to around 1.5-2 pounds per head per day. After a week to 10 days has passed, you can change the feed to a typical pig grower diet.
Water is of course important to feeder pigs too, especially as dehydration commonly occurs in stress-related scours shortly after arrival. A 25 to 40 pound pig should drink approximately 1/2 gallon of water per day.
Related: Best Pig Feeders
Can Feeder Pigs Be Kept as Pets?
While there is nothing stopping anyone from keeping a feeder pig as a pet, there are much better choices to consider such as pot bellied pigs or mini pigs.