Here is a short video giving a tour of our kids show barn with the different types of pen set ups that we have. There are several things that I didn’t elaborate on in the video so I will do that here. First being that we have helped kids with every type of barn set up you can imagine. So don’t think they you HAVE to have three or four different pen options. We can always help give you ideas on how to retrofit your current pen to best fit the pig(s) that you have on feed. We have helped kids with converted chicken coops that went on to win breed champions at major shows, you just have to be willing to do the work to manage the type of pen that you have. So here is a quick tour of our kid’s show barn.
Secondly, I touched on this a little in the video but the reason we have several different pen options (100% concrete, half concrete/half dirt, and mostly dirt) are for the different kind of pigs that we have on feed. Dirt is always more forgiving than concrete and shavings. So if you have one that is a little straighter legged, tight, or some other type of structural challenge, it can be beneficial to have them in a dirt pen. If you don’t have a dirt pen option and you need one, you can always add several bags of pelleted shavings under your traditional shavings to help make that surface softer. We prefer this to adding mats under the shavings because pigs will inevitably tear the mats up and most importantly when those mats get wet from urine or the water the pigs tend to slip on them.
With dirt pens you need to make sure that you level them out every day. Pigs will dig and make the surface uneven, so its important to level the dirt out so they don’t hurt themselves.
I didn’t show our wash racks or scales (circa 1960’s) in the video and it is important to have good spaces for these. You will be much more apt to wash and rinse your pigs if you have a nice space to do it.
Below are some additional pictures of the different pens we have. You will notice several of the pigs have a different amount of shavings in there pen. This has to do with their toes and toe length. If we want to them to get shorter toes then we will not bed them as deep; however, anyone who knows Josh well knows the majority of the time he likes the pigs to be bedded pretty deep in a good, high quality heat treated, soft pine shaving (The importance of using a good high quality shaving will be in a video of its own at a later date, more than likely with our skin and hair recommendations.)
Why does toe length matter? The majority of pigs you will purchase will have spent time on a plastic or wire nursery deck at the breeders farm. On these types of surfaces, their toes will grow pretty long. To have the correct kind of structural support and foundation on both their front and rear ends, it is important to have the right toe length (which is normally shorter than longer). Shorter front toes are going to help keep front pasterns at a better angle. The angle to their rear leg will determine the correct toe length you need. Pigs that have more set to their rear leg definitely need shorter toes so they don’t get too much bend in their leg and start to appear what we call “banana legged”. Pigs that don’t have as much angle to their hock and tend to be almost too straight have to have a little longer back toe. If their back toes get too short, it can tend to make their hind leg more straight.
You may think we are a little crazy talking about toe length on a pig and we probably are a little 🙂 however shows are so competitive these days that small changes and adjustments in things like pen set up and toe length can make a tremendous difference in the success you have with your pig.
We hope that this post was helpful to some of you that are looking at setting up your pens for the coming 2019 Fall season. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to reach out to us on our Facebook page or by texting or calling Carrie at 217-251-3245. Remember, do the small things right and BIG things will happen!