Free books to download or read online

Back to the future? These out-of-copyright books are well worth a read despite being somewhat dated. They are written by experts in their field at a time when scientific knowledge was still in its infancy but where good pig husbandry and management, based on years of practical hands-on experience, was high. Most of these books have good sections on the history of pigs breeds and breeding and they also have many relevant tips for raising healthy pigs (pig building and sty design, feed composition, pasture management, the need for fresh air, sunlight and exercise etc.). All the books have numerous black and white photographs of pigs. Have a read. There is much that we today can learn from their advice. I was particularly struck by the compelling case that is made for the practice of raising pigs in a mixed sty + pasture operations that was once the way to successfully raise pigs, an approach we seem to have largely forgotten today.

I am only listing the books that I have personally read below. Enjoy!


SWINE – Breeding, feeding and Management by William Dietrich

A must read: Of all the out of copyright books this is the one to read. Printed in 1910 and over 300 pages long, this book looks at all aspects of raising pigs in quite a modern, informed way. This was one of the first books to really use and report on the results and conclusions of trials done by the Experimental Research Stations that were being set up to improve pork production in the USA at the time. Many, if not most, of the key messages are certainly applicable today. The chapter on Shelter for Swine is notable for its plans and the description of benefits for a well lit piggery using natural light and the trough with swinging panel. The explanation of the nutrients (protein, carbohydrate and other elements) needed in feed for good pig growth and health is also very clear and if you are not too familiar with this aspect of pig raising, the book covers the general principles involved well.


Swine Husbandry in Canada by J.B. Spencer (1914)

A book you should read: This is a very interesting short book that looks at all aspects of swine husbandry as practiced in Canada. There is a good section on breeds and quite a focus on the scientific results of feeding different compositions of fresh feed. The section on pig housing is very good, and the observations made about progressive farmers and their pig housing on page 52 could well apply as a damning indictment of today's factory farmers. If you look at nothing else check out the plans for moveable pens, the well lit piggery and the trough with swinging front, all of which can be relevantly used today, and should be.


Forty Years Experience of a Practical Hog Man by A.J. Lovejoy

Recommended: Published 1914 by a one of the great characters of US pig farming this 168 page book contains an awful lot of worthwhile information and guidance on raising pigs. Unlike other swine books of the era there is nothing here on breeds, just a direct and knowledgeable focus on how to raise pigs successfully. It covers all the areas of pig raising you would expect. There are good descriptions, plans and pictures of various sty buildings and equipment – the set up and plans of the Myers swine house is definitely worth checking out as it’s a great example of how to raise pigs in sties with access to pasture. The book ends with a chapter full of Lovejoyisms espousing on all things pigs.



On the Domesticated Animals of the British Islands by David Low

A superb section on pigs. This celebrated work looks was the first comprehensive study of a variety of domesticated animals in the British Isles. The section on pigs remains a highlight and is well worth a read.


Biggle Swine Book by Jacob Biggle

Definitely worth reading: Printed in 1912 this is a very readable compact book covering all aspects of pig raising and husbandry. It contains lots of interesting advice and observations.



The Pig – A treatise on the Breeds, Management, Feeding and Medical Treatment of Swine by William Youatt

Printed in 1852 this is the first and oldest book on pigs. A fascinating read of social and pig history.


British Pigs and the Art of Making Them Pay by James Long

Worthwhile read: Published in 1919 (2nd edition) this is a very good book by one Britain's leading pig breeders. The book contains some good hands on advice and observations, is easy to read, and in my opinion is well worth a read.



Productive Swine Husbandry by G.E. Day

Published 1913 (2nd edition) this was a Lippingcotts Farm Manual series publication. It’s very comprehensive. If you’re really interested in learning about pig breeds this book could be for you. Well over a third of this 363 page book looks at the various main pig breeds in detail. There’s an interesting section on preparation methods for feed (cooking/steaming, grinding, wet v dry, soaking, fermenting) and their benefits, and a long chapter on feeding and management that has much of interest and relevance for today. It contains a number of descriptions and plans for various types of pig buildings.


Pigs - Breeds and Management by Sanders Spencer

Published in 1910 this is a worthwhile read by one of the great pig breeders of the UK.


Swine Husbandry in the United Kingdom and Denmark edited by J.D. Spencer

This is a 1909 report by a Commission from Canada looking at swine husbandry in the UK, Ireland, Denmark and Holland. It’s quite an interesting report of how pig farming was carried out in the various countries at this particular time and has some nice black and white photographs of pigs and pig raising operations. It is of more limited value to someone wanting to learn about raising pigs than the other books listed in this section.


The better way to raise pigs