Are you trying to figure out how to prevent pigs from escaping? Hopefully, this article will help you learn from my mistakes – I mean, learn how to do it!
How come none of the books I read told me anything about what troublemakers pigs are?? Nobody warned that it would take Fort Knox to hold little miss piggy in!
“A single strand of electric fencing will do it.” My rear end!!
Remember the first night we got the pig, and how it escaped within minutes of us turning our backs? And how relieved we were when we caught her and thought we had actually secured her for good?
Yeah. Well, I was too embarrassed to tell you that the very next day she escaped again. She ran loose in our woods for nearly a week! Fortunately though, she stayed close by, and even made an occasional appearance.
Eventually, we trained her to come to us and were able to get her back inside the pen.
Now – to prevent the pigs from getting out again!
In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know to keep your pigs contained – for good.
Table of Contents:
Why Do Pigs Try to Escape?
There are several reasons that might encourage your cute little piglets (or full-grown sows, for that matter!) to become escape artists.
For one, they like to dig and root. Pigs, by their very nature, enjoy rooting around in the dirt in an effort to find grubs and bugs, to turn up the soil, and to satisfy their boredom.
Because of these rooting tendencies, it’s very easy for pigs to break free – often by mistake! They will dig under and around a pen simply because they are curious about what’s on the other side.
Giving your pigs plenty of room in their pen can help prevent these sorts of curiosity-inspired, accidental escapes, as can providing them with companions with whom they can socialize. However, that’s not all you should do.
If you raise pigs with other types of animals, they’ll often escape simply because they are curious about what’s going on on the other side of the farm! Breeding animals are about a million times more likely to do that, particularly if the other animal they are trying to reach happens to be of the same species (but opposite gender).
Pigs are smart, so often, once they’ve figured out that they can get through a fence once, they’ll keep trying it again and again and again. Spook a pig and there’s a good chance that even the strongest electric fence won’t keep it contained.
Of course, one of the most common reasons (and most preventable, too!) Why pigs escape is because one or more of their basic needs is not being met. They might be hungry, thirsty, or cooped up.
How to Prevent Pigs from Escaping
Ready to quit chasing pigs all through your neighborhood? If so, consider these tips to stop them from getting out.
Make Sure Their Basic Needs Are Met
First and foremost, don’t bother trying to mend your fences, retrain your pigs, or anything else of that sort until you’re positive that’ll of the basic needs of your pigs have been met.
Space is one of the most important – and most often neglected – needs. The average pig needs at least eight square feet of space. The more, the better – full-grown animals need much more space than this.
Of course, food and water are essential, too. Some people feed and water their pigs just once or twice per day, and I just can’t get behind this method.
Not only does it cause pigs to grow out more slowly (and less evenly, since the competition among the pigs will inevitably lead to one or two pigs growing much larger than the rest) but it is a recipe for disaster when it comes to encouraging escapes. I recommend getting your pigs up on automatic feeders and waterers that you refill just once per week. Your pigs can help themselves whenever they are hungry or thirsty!
Mind the Fence
Building strong, sturdy fences is essential when it comes to keeping pigs contained. I won’t say that there is any single type of fence that is pig-proof, but there are steps you can take to decrease the likelihood of a breakout.
Electric tends to be the most popular option. Just make sure you don’t use a single strand – you may want to use three or four instead. That way, your pigs won’t be able to climb over or crawl under the fence. For pigs who are especially fond of rooting, you might find it useful to put a strand of electricity right at ground level so your pigs don’t dig out.
You can also use wire mesh or wood fences. However, they may pull on these fences more and destroy them in the process.
Whichever option you choose, make sure you build it as strong as possible – and then even stronger.
Of course, it’s not just about building the perfect fence – you also need to train your pigs to it. When you move new pigs or piglets into a pen, take the time to train them to the fence (desailly important if it is electric).
If you’re allowing your pigs to graze a large area, confine them to a smaller area first so that you can keep an eye on them while they’re checking out their new digs. You may want to tie some flagging to an electric fence so the pigs can see where the fence is, too.
If you’re using electric fencing, you’ll find that your pigs figure it out quickly – usually one good shock is all it takes.
Be Cautious During Transport
Whether you’re moving pigs cross country or just to a different area of the yard, be super cautious doing so. If a pig is used to you, then chances are, he can be persuaded into doing whatever you want with a few treats and some coaxing.
However, a very young pig will be way more difficult to coerce and also more afraid of you. If he gets away while you are trying to move him, he’s gone – you’re going to have a hard time getting him back.
When moving pigs, move slowly and calmly and have plenty of treats on hand. Don’t assume the fences or barriers you are using will keep the pigs in place. Have a back up plan in case things go south on you.
Check Fences Daily
No matter what you decide to use as a fence with your pigs, you need to stay on top of it (not physically, of course – I mean in terms of upkeep!). Check it daily to make sure it’s still intact and that there are no holes. Make sure the pigs haven’t rooted up and underneath it to create a low spot through which they could wiggle out.
And if you have an electric fence, get an inexpensive tester so that you can check the voltage every day.
Socialize With Your Pigs
Socializing and bonding with your pigs won’t necessarily prevent them from escaping. However, it will make it much easier for you to get them back if you aren’t constantly spooking them every time you come up on them to get them to return to the pen.
How to Catch Pigs
So you’ve done everything you can to keep pigs contained and prevent them from escaping – but they still get out.
Hopefully, you aren’t reading this as the result of a panicked Google search while your pigs are already running amok. If that’s the case, take a deep breath, calm down, and continue. If not, go! You’re smart by brushing up on these tips ahead of time, before an emergency actually arises.
If your pigs get out, staying calm is key. Don’t panic and no matter what, don’t succumb to the temptation of chasing the pigs. This is counterproductive. Pigs don’t look that agile, but they’re much faster than you and they’ll run even further away from you.
Remember that there is nothing that pigs love more in the world than food. Coax them out with some treats that they love the most, such as eggs or sweets. Be patient and try not to rush. Give them small bits of food to lead them back to the pen and again, don’t chase them!
Don’t rush your pig and let it get back into the pen on its own terms. At the same time, it’s probably not a good idea to just leave it roaming around all day.
Most places have feral pig laws that require you to return a pig to its pen within a certain amount of time or else you have to report it as feral. There are fines associated with this – and you’d be surprised at how quickly a former domesticated pig can go feral!
Keeping Pigs from Digging Under Fences
I already mentioned earlier in the article that it’s very common for pigs to bust loose because they dig under the fence.
While a single layer of electricity can help deter them from doing this, it might not always be the most appropriate choice. Sometimes, low-lying electricity won’t work due to vegetation or other issues.
If you have a super determined pig who is bound to break out, consider constructing a more solid barrier beneath the fence line. You can fill a trench with quick-drying concrete, for example, which will make it impossible for your pigs to root beneath the fence.
It may also make sense to use multiple types of fencing. You can build a sturdy fence out of livestock panels or wood and make it even more secure with a few strands of electricity.
Fencing for Pigs on Pasture
Pigs aren’t the best animals to pasture because they don’t get that many nutrients from grass alone (after all, they aren’t ruminant animals).
However, if you are letting your pigs roam freely in the woods or another setting and want to be able to keep them somewhat contained, you will want to erect a strong perimeter fence that is also flexible enough to be moved.
Woven polywire can work as a solution but make sure the stakes are embedded firmly in the ground as pigs will easily be able to uproot them.
Electric tends to be the preferred method of fencing for most pigs.
That’s because pigs train quickly and easily to electric. This is partially due to their intelligence but also because of the fact that they have large, wet noses and very little hair – there’s not much to insulate them from the shock!
Often, all you need is two strands of fencing to keep the hogs in – but I recommend three or four so you don’t have to worry about it.
For larger hogs, two wires placed at 10 and 18 inches above the ground are essential, with another ower wire added in for smaller pigs or piglets.
The good news about raising pigs is that they are smart (although I suppose this can also be a bit of bad news, too!). Pigs are like dogs in that they will run loose all day but ultimately they will want to come home.
Of course that’s not always the case – that’s why feral pigs are such a problem, after all. However, chances are, as long as you don’t let your pigs wander too far and have plenty of incentives for them to come back (shelter, food, water, etc.) then they should come home.
But it’s far easier to initiate these tips for preventing pigs from escaping than it is to try to clean up after the fact – or wait around for your pigs to return. So take steps now to keep those pigs where they should be – home!
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.