agh farming hogs pigs

AGH: Feeding Time

American Guinea Hogs require a plan when it comes to feeding. They gain weight so easily that you shouldn’t free feed. Mature hogs only need one feeding a day, and that helps keep weight down and keep chores from taking up too much of your time. It would be nice if we could free feed them, and leave for a few days with a full feeder and an automatic watering system, but that is not a great idea with these hogs as they would eat all the feed the first day, and get upset without food on subsequent days.

Most of my mature hogs get 1/2 to 3/4 of a pound of feed each day. We have a scale and weigh out the feed so we can be fairly exact with our distribution. At least weekly, we will take a close look at each hog’s body condition, and make adjustments to their feed, based on that review. Recovering sows will get more feed, and young pigs still growing will also get more feed. Pigs under 60 pounds or so will get fed twice daily, as they are not big enough to sustain a once daily feeding over 24 hours and continue putting on weight satisfactorily.

We feed a mix that we buy from a local distributor that includes a mineral mix. We’ve gone to buying it in 1000 pound totes, as we’ve increased our hog numbers to the double digits. It saves money and allows us to stock up on a large amount at a time. It also helps to have a tractor and truck to retrieve and unload without resorting to shovels and buckets (or leaving it in the truck).

It’s also a good idea to provide hay each day for feed and bedding. Our hogs eat quite a bit of hay, unless the grass has been growing and they can graze, so we feed the same hay we feed our cows through the winter months.

We would like to be able to move our hogs regularly, but when we can’t, we will add hog fuel (pole bark) to their pen at least weekly, to provide clean ground to feed them on. We use a tractor to dump a few bucket loads of hog fuel in each pen, and not spread it out – the hogs will spread it out as they eat on the pile, and it will prevent manure from messing up the pile until it gets spread out over a the next few days. When we feed, we will dump the feed on top of the pile, spreading it out as necessary to reduce fighting and allow the hogs to get their share.

Overall, AGH are a great hog since they require so little feed, so it costs less to feed them on a daily basis. On the other hand, they require more management because they are so easily fattened and they have to be fed daily, or more often, depending on the circumstances.

agh hogs piglets pigs

2022 Spring American Guinea Hog Piglets

We are getting ready for piglets this weekend on Red Alpha Farms. Our main American Guinea Hog sow, Jovy, is due on Friday. We have a new farrowing pen setup, with 8-10″ of deep litter (hog fuel), and hog panels to make sure she can see all the piglets all the time.

I set this up outside my office window so I can keep an eye on her and the piglets throughout the day.

agh construction hogs pigs

Mobile Shelter Solutions for the American Guinea Hog

Since we began raising American Guinea Hogs, we’ve had a number of shelter solutions. We move our animals frequently, so any shelter has to be mobile. They also need to be large enough for a pair of breeding hogs, a sow and litter, or a litter of hogs to get up to around 6 months in.

We began with 2 pigs that were around 8 and 12 weeks, so we started with a dogloo for large dogs. That worked really well for 3-4 months.

We next used a pallet house that was made with 4 pallets screwed together with some leftover plastic corrugated roofing on top. There might not be anything more convenient to build than a pallet house.

That pallet house worked, but it was very open on one side, and was extremely heavy — the roofing supports were 2x4s — not good. I built another one in a similar fashion, but cut down the pallets to 3′ high in the front and 2.5′ high in the back, and then installed galvanized roofing on 2×2 frames.

That worked very well, and was easy to move. It was much lighter. In order to make moving the pallet house easier, I put a 2×4 on each side of the bottom, the long way, to act as runners, and to hold the pallets together. I then put large eye-bolts in each end of each 2×4, to allow me to connect a rope with carabiners attached to each eye-bolt and allow me to drag it around.

The problem with that shelter is that we just got into some weather that was down in the teens, and I didn’t want the hogs to get too cold, so it was time to build the next iteration of the shelter.

This shelter was framed out of 2x4s, with an open bottom, and cedar fence boards for siding. The door is 2’x2′, with the shelter being roughly 6’x4′. The roof is 3′ high, and there is a covered porch to keep the weather out of the doorway. This one also has a front handle and pegs sticking out the back just under the roof to allow it to be flipped up to clean out. I also placed a sheet of 2″ foam board insulation just below the gap between the siding and the roof to make it even warmer.

The shelters open bottom allows a great amount of hay or straw (or other bedding) to be placed inside the shelter. When it gets a bit full, I just rock the shelter around a little bit to get the sides to crawl up on top of the bedding, and it helps keep the hogs up off the ground better.

I’m not moving them much with snow on the ground, so I will likely also install runners on the bottom and pull this around when better weather returns.

What do you use?

agh construction farming hogs piglets pigs

Piglet Creep Feeder

Our American Guinea Hogs are 4 weeks old this week. They are trying to eat more solid food with some success. Much of their efforts are hampered by the sow and boar in the same pen. It’s much easier to have them all in the same pen, but it creates too much competition for solid food for them to thrive. The solution is to create a creep feeder.

I took a 36″ by 16′ hog panel and cut it into three sections. I wanted a triangle so that the larger hogs could not push it and make a piglet sandwich. It ended up working well, although the hogs still push it a little bit and I have to hold it in place.

After the first feeding, I cut an additional vertical bar out from one section on each side so that they didn’t have to crawl in and out. I don’t have pictures of that yet.

The creep feeder works well at keeping the hogs out.

I place the food dish, filled with milk or water and an all stock type feed that I buy from Xcel Feeds in western Washington called “Premium Blend”.

agh hogs pigs

Getting ready for piglets.

We raise American Guinea Hogs (AGH) on pasture and in the woods. We move them frequently, sometimes daily, sometimes weekly. These hogs have a wonderful temperament, they don’t try to escape, and they don’t root up the soil too much. We’ve found that they root quite a bit more in the wooded areas than the field/pasture areas.

We’re about a week away from piglets, according to my calculations. We have a gilt that should farrow next Sunday, 9/19.

She’s looking very bulky right now, with milk bagging up and she’ll no longer tolerate belly rubs (too sensitive). I am going to separate the two pigs today and move them onto pasture and out of the woods. We’ve had them in the woods over the hot summer, but now it’s cooling off quite a bit, so the pasture will be better, and keep them away from the predators.

Here is what the wooded area looks like when they first get moved onto it. We leave them in one general area for 1-2 weeks.

adventure agh hogs pigs

New addition: American Guinea Hogs

On Saturday, we went down to Cascade Meadows Farm and collected two American Guinea Hogs to add to our farm. This is a 4 month old breeding pair that should provide us with pigs this fall around September, if all goes well.

So far pigs are the most entertaining farm animal we’ve had. I love watching and interacting with these guys. They are a bit skittish as they have recently had a slew of tests and probes to make sure they are healthy as they were slated to go to Hawaii. The process didn’t work out, so we are now trying to tame them down a bit.

I’ve been feeding them kitchen scraps, as available, as well as an expired bread/milk/All Stock mix twice a day, mostly to tame them down. They love the bread and milk, they love the kitchen scraps, and they like the All Stock grain mix. I also make sure they have an abundance of dry hay to bed in, and I put out a high quality flake of second cut timothy every day or so that they eat quite a bit of.

We’re housing them in a very large dogloo that I had bought for our dogs long ago and they would never use. I don’t recall the exact size, but I’ve had two 115lb+ dogs inside one after throwing a particularly tasty treat inside and both of them wanting it pretty badly. They were able to turn around and get out with a minimal amount of growling and scrambling (the dogs). The pigs have made a nest in the dogloo with all the hay and don’t appear to be soiling it at all yet.

We also have a pallet shelter to provide them with somewhere to go during inclement weather, which is more often than not in western Washington state.

Cascades Contender is not happy to be left out of the bread and milk sessions:

He’ll stand there until after all the bread and milk is gone. Poor guy, we fed him some bread when he first got here to get him used to us, but we stopped that long ago. (Contender is in a large pasture – he looks like he’s in a cage because we have the pigs inside a set of hog panels that are inside a quarter acre holding paddock until they get used to us.)