We have had several animals over the years but never pigs, mostly because of my childhood memories of chasing pigs back into their pen and repairing the damage they had done to our yard and garden. While we are fond of bacon, I was very willing to let someone else do the raising of the pigs for me. That was until this summer when I was offered a pair of 4-week-old pot belly pigs for free. I was determined to make a pig pen that would keep memories of chasing errant pigs in my childhood alone.
Our first step was clearing the space. It is inside our alpaca pasture and has been used as an area for ducks so we had to fill in the old duck pond and pull up their shade cover that was imbedded in the ground. We'll shore that up and keep it for additional cover for the pigs. The stall in the barn was used for hay storage so we had to move some of that to open up a corner for the pigs to live in.
We had to add a concreted post in our stall as something to attach a wall to so that we maintained an area for hay storage. We use a dry technique where we put in the concrete mix and then add water and mix it in the hole. This has worked well for us in the past.
Then we attached the walls to our posts. We made sure they were high enough so the pigs would leave the hay alone.
As a last optional step, we trimmed out the corner. This protects the edges of the plywood from wear and tear as well as looking better. We used screws for this whole project so we didn't have to worry about the pigs pushing the boards off when they get bigger.
We attached our gate right to our barn after we put a new layer of paint on it to help protect it from rust. We tried to make it have small gaps so that there would be nowhere for the pigs to squeeze through.
Adding a post that was directly attached to the barn gave us a sturdy point to attach our fence to. We had to use excessively long screws for this so that it was firmly attached into the framing of the barn.
To protect the posts and rails from the elements, we coated them with Thompson's Water Seal. Ours was a transparent sedona color.
Digging the hole to the correct position and depth requires a little planning and a lot of measuring. We decided to use the pasture fence as our guide and match up to it. Using the rails as a guide was also helpful. We like to put 24 inches into the ground to make a secure post.
We waited to mix the water in the concrete so that we had the ability to make small adjustments as we were putting on our cattle panel and rails. We used large staples to hold our panels onto our posts.
After the panels are on, it is time to use large screws to attach the rails at the top and bottom. Pigs like to scratch their sides by rubbing up against things, so everything has to be well secured. The only thing that would have made this design more secure would have been attaching the panel and rails to the inside so that when they push on them it pushes them against the posts instead of away from them.
Attaching the panel to the rails as well gives it just a little more stability.
Then it was time for us to double-check our placement and add water to our concrete. We did this part one wall at a time so it was easier to use that side as a measuring guide for the following walls.
After discussing our plans with some pig farmer friends of ours, we determined that we needed to add a few defenses. The first was a rebarred, concreted ditch that ran the entire perimeter of their pen. Pigs are designed to dig up roots and can actually dig out of a pen given enough time. We made our ditch about 4 inches deep and 4 inches wide and then placed in our rebar.
With the ditch, we made wet concrete in our mixer and added it to the ditch. We had to lift the rebar as we went to make sure it stayed in the center of our ditch instead of just on the bottom. We did have to dig around the concrete of the posts but that wasn't that difficult.
Due to the size of our piglets, we also had to add a layer of wire fencing to the bottom so that they couldn't climb out between the panel wires.
It was also necessary to add wood to the bottom of our gate which not only kept the pigs in but kept our curious puppy out.
I have been surprised by how much I have enjoyed having pigs. They have these fun little personalities. Every time I step out the back door they make an excess of noise trying to get me to come over and give them a treat and a back scratch.
I've found that having the proper enclosure can make pigs a lovely addition to any farm.