We have used electric fencing to contain our pigs for about 6 years now. It
works really well most of the time. The times it doesnn't work so well is
with young pigs(4 to 12 weeks old), and pigs unfamiliar with electric fencing.
We use two types of fencing. One is a poly strand(UV resistant polyethelene
strands with stainless steel or alluminum strands woven in with the poly
strands) or regular galvanized steel fencing wire. Of these two type either
work well, but the poly wire is colorfull and easier for the animal and
farmer to see. This visibility factor could easily be corrected with
colorful rags or such tied to the steel wire. We use fiberglass fence posts
11/16" diameter for the corners, and 3/8" for the straght runs. Little
plastic gizmo clips hold the wire to the posts and are easily slid up or
down, even when hot. The corners are another matter...we tie knots there.
The other type of fencing we use is called 'electro net'. It has hot strands
of polywire spaced horizontally ever 2, 4 or 5 inches, depending on what you
order. The strands are held in space by vertical plastic aligners spaced
every foot. The effect is a net of hot electric horizontal wires that will
contain most any animal, even poultry. The rrouble with the electro net is
the pigs will root dirt onto and eventuallly over the netting. Where we use
the netting(which keeps chickens, geese and young pigs out of the garden ),
a single strand of poly wire is set up about a foot inside the electronet.
This keeps the pigs away from the netting and avoids shorting the fence out
because of rooting. There are built in fence posts every three meters orso.
It is manufactured in England.
Our charger produces 6200 volts, 4.60 joules, for a 5000th of a second. This
results in a high pain potential and yet is safe because of the time
duration. Also if the time duration is a lot longer ir will tend to melt out
the poly in our wires. Generally the shorter the pulse the safer the system
for melting, fire and injury potential. I'm no phyicist, but I know about
pain and our fence hurts like hell if you bump into it(especially with wet
feet). Another note on charging, you'll need to completely ground the
system, so when the animal touches the fence the earth acts as to complete
Any new pig introduced into the drove is put in a wooden pen about 6 meters
square, with a strand of hot wire a foot inside the wood frame. The pig
will quickly learn to respect the electric wire and once that is learned it
will respect a hot fence without the wood pen.
If your just containing pigs, one wire could be enough if the pigs are
conditioned to it, the fence is kept hot, and they are not stressed form
lack of food, water, or shade. If the pigs become naughty and start escaping
into the garden, two or three wires may be neccessary. Two wires spaced
horizontally are more effectve with pigs than two wire spaced vertically,
but it takes twice as many posts. We generally use two wires, spaced
vertically as Tamworths jump fairly well, and it is best not to tempt them.
Below are a couple of earlier articles I wrote about using our pigs to
I can attest to the fact that pigs will eliminate poison ivy, or just about
anything else you pen them in with. At Prairie Dock Farm we have been using
Tamworth hogs in a pastoral grazing/cultivating system for a couple of years
now. Sheep and chickens are grazed through a paddock, followed by pigs and
chickens. When the pigs have finished rooting, we seed with an appropriate
cover crop, let the pigs stompple it in, move them off and irrigate. It
produces wonderful stands of covercrop/pasture, and the tractor never even
came out of the shed.
This system also works with most any nasty weed patch you may have. It is
limited only by your creativity with electric fencing. Pigs once taught,
develop a healthy respect for an electric fence. A single strand is usually
enough as long as they have enough food and water....(boars can be another
matter). Once securely fenced the pigs can be induced into the worst of
places with a scoop of corn. One need only pour corn on any particular
'nasty' and it disappears.
We also use the pigs in our composting program. Our farm is DNR certified
to compost 40,000 cubic yards of yard waste per year. When pasture is
unavailable we pen the Tams in the leaf windrow area. Again with corn as an
incentive, hogs can be used to replace expensive compost turning machinery,
and turn a tasty profit.
We choose Tamworth howgs for a few reasons. First they are a heritage
animal. This is the animal version of a heirloom vegetable, that being they
are rare and we are in danger of losing their genetic heritage.
Second, Tams are noted for their rooting ability, pasturing capability,
variety of diet, hardiness, mothering instincts, and with a great
personality. This is the type of hog your great, great grandparents
Third, they have as good a feed conversion rate as most pigs. An added
benefit is they are a very lean pig. This coupled with being raised
organically, on pasture hits a nice niche market.
The pigs have become a big attraction at the farm with the membership and
local schools(our farm is a CSA, Comunity Supported Agriculture). I think
it really makes an impression on a young person to see and touch a farm
animal. This is the type of experience children need to be exposed to at a
young age to develop a respect for nature and life.
We do rent these critters if you live in our area and meet a few safety
criteria. A one day internship is necessary to avoid the occurrence of
unpleasant situations. Sales are available too. Write for details.
Greg, from the Farm...Goodnight.
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