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5 Great Pig Farming Tips

A pig in its penWhether you're bringing up a herd or just a couple of hogs, follow these five techniques to keep your pigs happy on the farm.

Feed them right

Not every bag of pig feed is perfect for your swine. N.C. State University Professor and Swine Nutritionist Eric van Heugten says that different life stages require different nutrients. "The greatest bang for your buck would be to go to at least two diets: One for young pigs and lactating sows, and one for older pigs and gestating sows."

Choose the best supplements

While you can pork up your porker by providing it with ample food, nutritious supplements are key to overall health and building muscle bulk. van Heugten points out the power of selecting the amino acid lysine as a diet supplement. "Farmers should carefully evaluate the diets to make sure they meet the amino acid requirements of the pig," he says. "Lysine is the amino acid that needs to be supplemented first, because it is usually limiting growth of the pig."

A healthy pig is a happy pig

Janet Archer, education and outreach specialist for the N.C. Pork Council, knows the benefits of having happy, healthy pigs. "We assess animal well-being by how well animals produce." Archer notes a few basic husbandry skills can make for a happy home: clean water, an adequate, well-balanced diet and adequate ventilation. She also points out one very important task to maintaining hogs' long-term well-being: record keeping. "Farmers must have a record-keeping system to establish a baseline for their production numbers, so they can track continuous improvement."

Understand your pigs

Understanding a pig's "point of balance" can give farmers and pigs peace of mind, Archer explains. "The point of balance is around the animal's shoulder: If we touch the animal behind her shoulder, she will move forward, and if we touch her in front of her shoulder, she will back up. These two tools help us to keep animals moving in the direction in which we want them to move." In addition, mechanisms like pig rings can help keep your livestock under control.

Minimize stress on your livestock

Transportation can be stressful for animals and humans, but it is crucial to minimize that stress in order to maximize your pig farming profit, and everyone's well-being. "Minimizing stress starts long before we move the animals," says Archer. "It's important to walk through the pens and handle the pigs to get them used to positive human interaction." Of course, when it comes to the animal getting used to anything, the earlier the better.

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