What To Consider When Raising Pigs on Concrete
Raising pigs on concrete is the standard for most commercial hog farms. However, you really can’t argue the fact that doing so denies them of many of their natural instincts and behaviors.
Raising pigs on concrete is fine – but make sure you adhere to these tips.
1. No Mud for Temperature Control
One of the biggest benefits of raising pigs on concrete is also one of the biggest disadvantages – there is no mud. Although there is less mess to deal with, there are also some significant challenges to overcome.
Pigs can’t sweat and use mud to cool themselves on hot summer days. Without mud, they are more likely to become sunburned (if they have access to a concrete slab outside rather than a dirt area). This can lead to many other health problems.
Therefore, you will need to put in some kind of cooling and ventilation system to help keep your pigs cool on hot summer days. Some people install sprinklers in the barn to take care of this.
If your pigs don’t have access to mud, be aware that they will be more likely to try and flip their waterers to use the water as a cooling agent. You will need to do something to prevent this, such as anchoring the water trough to the wall.
2. Loads of Fresh Bedding
If you are going to raise pigs on concrete, you better make sure you have plenty of bedding stocked up. Without proper bedding, your pigs can develop sores, achy joints, and lameness that are difficult to reverse. You wouldn’t want to lie down on a bare concrete slab – so why would you make your pigs do it?
3. Daily Scraping & Cleaning
In relation to the last point, that bedding that you use must be scraped and removed often. Depending on the number of pigs you have and on how much space, that might mean every single day.
This can quickly turn into a major chore, so make sure you have the tools, time, and wherewithal to handle it before you commit to raising your pigs on concrete.
Fail to do this, and it’s not only going to stink to high heaven, but it’s also going to leave your pigs more vulnerable to parasites, respiratory problems, and other issues.
4. Providing Ample Space is a Must
Of course, you should always give your pigs as much space as possible. That’s regardless of whether you raise them indoors or outside.
However, just keep in mind that you will need to be even more careful about this when raising pigs on concrete in a barn.
They won’t have access to the same benefits as pasture-raised pigs (like all the vitamin D from the sun and soil!) and overcrowding can present issues such as fighting. Crowded pigs are more likely to battle with each other for space, and they’re more likely to be easily bored.
When you raise your pigs on concrete in a barn, you may find that you need to engage in preventative measures like tail docking, as your pigs will be more likely to nip and bite at each other.
5. Can Cause Foot and Leg Issues
Unfortunately, raising pigs on concrete can cause some foot and leg issues if not done properly. Osteochondrosis is one such issue, leading to the destruction of your pigs’ leg muscles, bones, and tendons. Mycoplasma arthritis is another such condition.
Usually, you can prevent both by bedding your animals deeply and avoiding overstocking.
6. Limits Natural Behaviors
Again, raising pigs on concrete deprives them of many of their natural behaviors.
These include things like rooting and, as I call it “excavating” for tasty grubs and bugs in the soil. Of course, for some people who raise pigs, this is ultimately the goal – to prevent destruction as much as possible. Just keep in mind that it is not the most natural way to raise pigs.