Get Along Piggies

This fall we stretched the pigs’ grazing season longer than usual. Some years we’ve had to curtail it by late October, though normally we bring them in just before deer hunting begins in mid-November. This year their rotation pattern brought them farther from the woods so they weren’t interfering with hunters.  But with the fields turning mushy as the season progressed, it was time.

Even large groups of cattle can be herded effectively by one person driving the rear, but pigs don’t move as cohesively as cattle.  The groups are more prone to break ups, with more internal churning and frequent losses of momentum. Moving pigs is easier with the carrot and stick approach. In this case the carrots were treats (flakes of apple pomace from Pavlus Orchards’ cider making) Rachel and Harry placed ahead and I was the stick, bringing up the rear by pacing back and forth to keep the slow pokes moving.

With the portable catch pen and the stock trailer in place, the job went well for us.  And for the pigs too.  They seem to like their new place. When I went out this morning’s chores they were snoring in the pile of wood chips in their hoophouse.

2 Comments on “Get Along Piggies

  1. Have you ever tried growling deep in your throat while moving toward them, and then blowing air through your lips as a “warning” much like deer do? I find I can drive a group of pigs the direction I want pretty consistently with this technique.

    Getting them into a trailer on my own… not without a carrot.

    • I do mimic two different pig noises, both hard to describe. One is a deep “huh huh” that bigger pigs use to intimidate smaller ones. The other sound is a loud lip smacking that sounds like pigs eating (not to be confused with the other lip smacking sounds that boars use when they are frothing to impress females). I haven’t tried the honking/blowing sounds the deer make, but I’ll have to give it a try.
      Sounds definitely help, much more than with cattle where noise quickly becomes counterproductive. But my favorite tool for herding pigs is a sorting board.

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