Raising Pigs on Pasture

by Cam
Published: Updated:

Raising pigs on pasture is very different than I imagined it would be. We’ve raised pigs for a several years now on our property. As a result of that, I’ve learned a lot about raising pigs on pasture and why it’s so important.

Pigs are by far my favorite animal to raise on our farm!  Never did I think I would be enjoying raising farm animals as an adult, much less taking a special liking to pigs.  (This is Cam by the way.  Becky gave me control of the keyboard for a few hours, so we’ll see how this goes 🙂 

This post will be a detailed look into the reasons we why raise pigs on pasture, and all the benefits of doing so. I will write a future post that details how we raise pigs on pasture, what fencing we use, how often we rotate them and all those details. It’s important to go through the why before I dive into how.

**Edit: Click here for the follow up post on How we raise pigs on pasture **

Why Raise on Pasture

It’s more natural

Pigs are naturally great foragers. Their noses are designed as some of the best scoop shovels around. If you need proof, come out and watch our pigs after a good rainstorm has softened up the ground a bit.

They will hardly notice you are there because they will be so busy pushing away dirt and ground matter in such a way you would think they are looking for buried treasure! Giving them pasture space allows them to roam, root, and forage as they naturally would, eating plants, grubs, and anything else that looks, smells, or sounds good.

When pigs can act as they normally would, their stress levels are minimized, and their overall well-being increases. Humans are more comfortable and less stressed in an environment where we can act natural, and be ourselves. Why would pigs be any different?

When pigs have room to roam, forage, and simply do what they do naturally, they are healthier, less stressed, and happier. Joel Salatin has a great book titled, “The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs.” Throughout the book he explains how intelligent, witty, and well designed pigs are for their place on the farm.

Pigs are the farms food composter for garden scraps. They have an amazing ability to convert these nutrient rich garden scraps into the best tasting bacon, sausage, and pork chops. What a great added benefit!

Healthy Pigs are Happy Pigs

In order for the pasture to stay healthy and continue to grow, we rotate the pigs through individual paddocks. Pigs left in one fenced area, even a very large one, will eventually end up causing so much disturbance that all the pasture will die.

Rotating the pigs through pasture areas allows the pasture to grow back and even improves after the pigs leave. It creates a cycle of continuous regeneration of organic matter, healthy soil, and healthy pasture.

This regenerative method means the pigs are not wallowing in their own waste, their areas are clean, and sickness is for the most part non-existent.

The pigs are, believe it or not, enjoyable to be around. Outside of getting de-wormer as babies, they are given no antibiotics, ever. A clean environment for the pigs reduces pathogens, bacteria, and disease that can make them sick.

We have given many tours of our farm, and an easy favorite of the kids is feeding the pigs. The parents often point out how clean the pig paddocks are, and how there is no “pig sty” smell. These observations are spot on. When done right, raising pigs on pasture produces little to no smell.

It is Cost Effective

The cost benefits for raising pigs on pasture are evident. Feed cost is lower, because their feed is supplemented with their diet with foraging food, grasses, nuts, and more.

A gentleman by the name of Walter Jeffries has been raising pigs in northern Vermont for over 20 years, with the goal to “produce pigs that thrive in our climate on a high pasture diet, without the need for commercial grain-based hog feed.” source

I’m not to Walter’s level yet, but aspire to be sometime soon! Infrastructure costs are also much lower for a pastured pig operation. No need for an expensive building with concrete floors and shade from the sun. A sturdy fence with two strands of electric fencing will do the trick just fine. And, believe it or not, pigs are perfectly fine sleeping outside. No fancy lean-to shelter needed. Mine have slept outside from day one and haven’t complained yet.

As I continue to raise pigs on pasture, and share my hog stories with other people, I often ask myself, “how did my ancestors raise pigs?” They didn’t have access to feed mills like I do today. They couldn’t afford to build automated feeder lines and rationed watering stations.

My ancestors may not have had the most effective, cost-efficient methods for raising pigs, but to them that wasn’t the goal.

For them, as for myself, the goal is to raise healthy pigs, happy pigs, and pigs that taste good. In my opinion, raising pigs on pasture is the best way to accomplish all three of these goals.

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Paige January 7, 2024 - 2:01 pm

Great article! Y’all are one of the reasons why we bought pigs last year. This blog and your YouTube channel are so informative and helpful. Thanks for all you guys do!

theseasonalhomestead January 9, 2024 - 10:12 pm

Paige, Thank you so much! Pigs are the best. So glad you decided on raising pigs. I hope you are having as good of a time as we are with them 🙂 -Cam

Hilary January 8, 2024 - 12:40 am

Super helpful info. Looking forward to your follow-up post on pasture raised pigs. I hope you will have a post on what is involved in raising your cows as well. Thank you!

theseasonalhomestead January 9, 2024 - 10:20 pm

Hilary, more pigs and cow posts coming soon! Thank you for enjoying this journey with us!! -Cam

PamR January 8, 2024 - 10:09 pm

We raised pigs with a pasture, but didn’t have room to rotate like we did the cows and chickens. Walter Jeffries was the source of our weavers for a couple years. He has an excellent system, supplemented with whey from Cabot on the other side of the mountain. My husband loved his cows best, but the pigs were not too far behind.

You send yours out for butchering, right?

theseasonalhomestead January 9, 2024 - 10:18 pm

Pam, so fun to hear a bit of your story!! Yes, we send our pigs out for butchering. I’ve done it myself before, but just don’t have the right equipment to do it efficiently. -Cam


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