Yes. You do have to train them you know. Or they will nominate a corner inside and GO right there in the house. Especially on a windy rainy day like today. Pigs will do what is easiest and they don’t mind the smell.
I have to say that Pig babies are easier to train than Human babies. Mostly because they can walk at birth I suppose. And grow at an extraordinary rate. And are obedient (to a point). I like that in a pig.
And unlike cows and horses and sheep they can be trained to leave their little messes outside. Anyway training piglets to poo and pee outside is really remarkably easy. It is all about repetition. And like the best training of children and dogs, it is all about catching the piglets being good. And getting ahead of the game.
Rewarding for getting it right is so much more effective than punishing for getting it wrong. Habits are hard to break so all I do is establish the habit of going outside very early. When i was learning to farm I studied the pigs and noticed that Piglets always poo directly after having eaten, like within moments. And some will pee while they are eating if they have a lot to consume at once.
So, when they are in training, I break their meal into two servings. I feed them their first feed of oats soaked in warm milk – they eat like crazy. Then after about two minutes, I pick up the bowls and walk outside to the Pooh Corner. I call them all out with me, saying Time for Toilet. Time for Toilet. They rush to me and quite delightfully stand around my feet and go to the bathroom. Right on cue. It is all over in about 60 seconds. I say Good Piggies loudly and frequently then once they are all done I very VERY carefully pick my way between the steaming little piles back into the barn, followed by the gaggle of grunting and squeaking babies and put out the larger second half of their meal.
I will do this again and again for a good month after weaning until the habit is instilled in the pigs to go OUTSIDE.
Though in bad weather they will find corners – they are pigs after all.
Now, you never thought you would be reading that with your morning coffee did you?!
I think Tane was a bit better yesterday. I had not quite shut the gate and at one point in the afternoon I saw him following Tima out as she bashed her way through the unlatched gate and he began to hobble at speed to the shed where the feed is stored. I picked up a half full bag and lead them back into the field and was so happy to see Tane following along behind grunting loudly for More Food.
The sun did not come out yesterday and neither will it today I think. It is stormy, lots of high winds and rain and grim. Not a good day for pigs!
Here is another image that Skip found for us. So you can get an even better idea of the overview of the farms. This is not a romantic pretty tree filled farm with babbling brooks and gentle rolling fields. What I have done is claw back a few acres of dead flat industrial cropping land and put it into pasture.
We rent the bigger fields off John’s uncle. This image has both the Home Farm at the bottom of the image and in the upper left corner of the screen you will see the West Barn and land owned by John’s mother. The long dark line running though the center of the picture is the creek that is really a ditch. In ancient times this was all swamp and then last century John’s great, greats dug very deep ditches to drain it so they could clear it and farm it.
This Google Earth picture is a few years old – we have put in more pasture and quite a bit more grass hay over at the West Barn.
But this does show my walk between the barns, I walk along the ditch, turn left onto the road, cross the bridge and follow another very deep ditch along the road, then left again and up the drive to the West Barn.
It is a very grim and blustery day out there today. The wind howled all night and the trees are now completely bare. I bet everyone was grateful for their winter quarters last night. Temperature wise it is still warm. But the rain and wind does not let it Feel warm.
I hope you have a lovely day.