Questions and Answers

Below are a selection of some of the questions I have been asked over the years and answers I have given. It is hoped that by reading them it will answer any existing and pending questions you may have.


Good day, I am interested in the business of natural pig farming I want to farm the common pigs and the wild pigs. Would you please send me the information on how to do the NATURAL WAY.


Hello Sindy. Thank you for your email and interest in the Natural Pig Farming way of raising pigs. I have no further information to provide other than what is on my website. My website outlines the principles and practice of natural pig farming as I practice it. If you read it systematically from start to finish starting in the menu bar at the Background to NPF pages through to Resources and you will have a good understanding of how to raise pigs in a high welfare way.

Best regards, Mark Cunliffe, NaturalPigFarming.com

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I have a sister-in-law that wants to start pig farming. She needs some specific advices on how the environment for the pigs should be. She has already put up a house for the pigs. My question is: Do you perform consultancy services to give her advice regarding IMO environment? And if you do, what fees are you charging. My sister-in-law lives close to Masaka city.  Best regards,  Bjorn


Hello Bjorn. Thank you for your email and interest in the Natural Pig Farming way of raising pigs. I’m actually just a small holder living in Thailand letting people know the type of farming I do via my website. Unfortunately I can’t offer any consulting services, training courses or mentoring. I simply don’t have the time. My website and the many resource web pages provide what I consider to be the key information that you need to know about the NPF approach to raising pigs. 


All the best with your plans, Mark Cunliffe, NaturalPigFarming.com

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Hi, I love this site. Where are you located? I'm wondering how your climate differs from ours. I'm currently raising pastured pigs on a very small scale. But I have concerns about environmental damage, and am looking into alternatives.


Hello Susan. Thank you for your email and interest in the natural pig farming way of raising pigs.


You ask where I am located. I’m located in North East Thailand. The weather in Thailand is generally hot and humid across most of the country throughout most of the year. While Thailand's seasons are generally divided into the hot season, cool season, and rainy season, in reality it's relatively hot most of the year. I have drop down curtains on my open sided sty’s for use during the cold months November – February whenever we have short spells of cold weather with chilly breezes. This cuts out the wind chill and helps keep the sty warm and the pigs within comfortable. The deep bed system I use can work in all climates though.


You say you are looking for alternatives to pasture raising of pigs. I do hope whatever system you go with some access to pasture will be part of your plans – I’m a big believer in the benefits of well managed free range pig raising systems with full or partial year round access, despite the fact I have adopted a pen containment system to give the pigs the shade and cool they need in the generally hot and sunny climate I operate in.


If you haven’t done so take a look at the content of some of the free books I have links to in my resources section. The offer some food for thought on pig sty/open pasture pig raising approaches that were used pre factory farming days. Although dated there is much hand on experience and approaches to pasture management in these books that is still of value and which is which may be of interest to you.


http://www.naturalpigfarming.com/resourcesfreebooks.htm


Also, if you haven’t already read the Good Agricultural Practice for Pig Production reports I recommend you do. The report will give you some useful ideas on the type of high welfare indoor pen system you could adopt.


https://www.ciwf.org.uk/education/downloads/gap-pigs-book/


I hope this helps. All the best with your plans and aspirations.


Best regards, Mark Cunliffe, NaturalPigFarming.com

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This will be my first time having pigs. I'm doing my research for the best shelter for them. I wonder if your open plan would still work in the winters of MA. I might get the piglets in December and it is pretty cold. I have an old container that is 13X11 with double doors I was planning on using until I made a custom one. Any ideas or suggestions?


Hello Barbara. Thank you for your email and interest in the natural pig farming way of raising pigs. You asked about suitable buildings for the climate you have. I really only have first-hand experience with the type of building I use and so can only really talk about the options and benefits this building design may give you.


You’ve seen the pens we use here in Thailand – open sided, which allows a cooling breeze to keep the pigs comfortable during most of the year plus a drop down curtain which is used when the colder weather comes in during November–January; it blocks wind chill and keeps any warmth generated by the pigs in the pen. I assume your climate will be colder during the winter months and if you used the pen design I have it will need to be adapted  depending how cold and severe the weather actually gets. A suitable option might be to use straw block bales (protected by chicken fence wire to keep the pigs from nibbling them away) to build a more solid temporary wall around the pen to insulate the pen and protect the pigs from the severe weather. This might not be warm enough though (you would need to judge) and maybe a more solid wall as part of your pen design may be a better option. You mention having a container which might provide temporary housing. Lining the walls with straw bales and having a deep layer of loose straw or deep bedding may provide the kind of insulation and warmth the pigs will need, so could be a good option for you. If you are using a container, make sure it suitably ventilated and that there is a source of natural light if possible.

 

Inside the pen / building (which you have now cold weather proofed) the pigs will have a number of ways of keeping warm. 1) Lying together so they benefit from each other’s body warmth, 2) burrowing into the deep bed bedding, and 3) snuggling into a thick layer of loose straw that you should add to the pen in cold weather periods. So using deep bed flooring and use of straw can provide good warmth for the pigs inside any building you go for.


You say you are presently researching building types. If you haven’t already read this Good Agricultural Practice: Pig Production report take a look, especially at the case studies which will show you various operational options that are used, the best of which you can adapt to your system and environment.


Download the Complete GAP Pigs book including appendix of case studies from this web page.

https://www.ciwf.org.uk/education/downloads/gap-pigs-book/


The use of deep straw on the flooring as shown in the case studies is a good additional way for your pigs to keep warm in a slightly cold climate.

 

It’s also worth taking a look at the free books links to gain insight into how pig who raised pigs in the USA, Canada and the U.K. and provide lots of useful tips and practical advice. The books are dated but offer very sound and practical advice on raising pigs and designing pig buildings. The sty designs they feature, with building positioned to face the sun during the day and using high roof level windows to let the suns warmth enter is a very good natural system of warming up pens during the cold winter months. These windows can be opened during the warmer season to let warm air out and indeed a curtain blocking out the sun during the time would also work well.

 

http://www.naturalpigfarming.com/resourcesfreebooks.htm


Some of the website links I have may also be a good source of information.


http://www.naturalpigfarming.com/apps/links/


I hope this helps.


I wish you all the very best with your plans. Mark Cunliffe,NaturalPigFarming.com

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May I ask if water wallowing is a must for pigs? Thanks , Dickson


Hello.  You ask whether having a water wallow or a pig is a must. I believe it is but clearly most businesses and individuals raising pigs don’t cater for this need. But it a core need. Given the choice a pig will choose to wallow. Put a pig in a space where there is an area where it can wallow (water and mud) and an area where there is no opportunity to wallow and the pig will spend its time in the area where it can wallow. Put a water nipple or trough above /on soil ground and the pig will splash water deliberately on the ground to create a cool area to wallow in. See the pleasure a pig has when wallowing and there can be no doubt, a pig has a deep rooted irresistible drive to seek out water and mud to wallow in.


Aside from enjoyment and comfort a wallow serves the function of enabling a pig to cool down. If you are in a hot climate it is vital that the pig is able to do this. If you have no wallow then it is important to the pigs well being that you regularly spray water over the pig to allow it to cool down.



If you don’t want to create a proper wallow in your pig pen, an option is to throw soil on top of a small area of the deep bed system and apply water to it. This at least creates a cool lying down area for the pig. Just add water and top up soil in the area of the pen regularly. Better still create an area below one of your water nipples so that the ground can benefit from spilled water so the pigs can add water during the day in addition to the water you add. (Note: it’ important that there are water nipples/ sources away from the wallow as well so all pigs have unimpeded access to drinking water).

 

Please see our NPF Video Clips page to see various examples of pigs wallowing.


I hope this answers your question.


Best regards, Mark Cunliffe, NaturalPigFarming.com

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Hi, I love this site. Where are you located? I'm wondering how your climate differs from ours. I'm currently raising pastured pigs on a very small scale. But I have concerns about environmental damage, and am looking into alternatives.


Hello Susan. Thank you for your email and interest in the natural pig farming way of raising pigs.


You ask where I am located. I’m located in North East Thailand. The weather in Thailand is generally hot and humid across most of the country throughout most of the year. While Thailand's seasons are generally divided into the hot season, cool season, and rainy season, in reality it's relatively hot most of the year. I have drop down curtains on my open sided sty’s for use during the cold months November – February whenever we have short spells of cold weather with chilly breezes. This cuts out the wind chill and helps keep the sty warm and the pigs within comfortable. The deep bed system I use can work in all climates though.

You say you are looking for alternatives to pasture raising of pigs. I do hope whatever system you go with some access to pasture will be part of your plans – I’m a big believer in the benefits of well managed free range pig raising systems with full or partial year round access, despite the fact I have adopted a pen containment system to give the pigs the shade and cool they need in the generally hot and sunny climate I operate in.


If you haven’t done so take a look at the content of some of the free books I have links to in my resources section. The offer some food for thought on pig sty/open pasture pig raising approaches that were used pre factory farming days. Although dated there is much hand on experience and approaches to pasture management in these books that is still of value and which is which may be of interest to you.


http://www.naturalpigfarming.com/resourcesfreebooks.htm


Also, if you haven’t already read the Good Agricultural Practice for Pig Production reports I recommend you do. The report will give you some useful ideas on the type of high welfare indoor pen system you could adopt. Be sure to look at the case studies document.


Download the Complete GAP Pigs book including appendix of case studies from this web page.

https://www.ciwf.org.uk/education/downloads/gap-pigs-book/


I hope this helps. All the best with your plans and aspirations.


Best regards, Mark Cunliffe, NaturalPigFarming.com

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Like you, we put water in our unshaded mud wallow about twice each day. Lately we've noticed the mud wallow is turning green in color, especially as the water level gets low (i.e. before refilling). We think this is due to a combination of a partial diet of live plants and the hog excrement. Will you please explain why we're experiencing this color change and if it poses a health risk to our hogs? We're grateful for your time and consideration of this request. Sincerely, Ed & Mary

 

Hello. I’ve not experienced this problem myself. This may be because I use the fermented plant juice / fruit juice solution regularly on the mud wallow which eats away bad bacteria, the soil we have here (porous) or the climate we are in (hot). I’m not really an expert (I’m actually just a small holder living in Thailand letting people know the type of farming I do via my website) but as you have asked, I will give my view of possible causes of the problem and possible solutions.


I don’t believe this issue is caused by your pigs ‘soiling’ their wallow. Pigs are the most hygienic of farm animals and would never excrete in an area they live or play if there is an alternative option. My own pigs excrete in the far side of their pen (fluid and solid), as far away as possible from their wallow and live-in area. More likely the cause of your water turning green is due to a buildup of bacteria caused by the presence of ‘sitting’ surface water on your mud. This would suggest that either your soil is not very porous and so the water you are adding does not drain away from the surface, and / or you are adding too much water to the mud so that it is more of a pool of water rather than a wet mud consistency. (When you add water to the mud there will be puddles of surface water, but visible water should drain away some time after).


My suggestion to help control of the problem would be:


  1. Clear out the top layer of mud and add fresh soil.
  2. Try to limit the amount of standing surface water. The mud should be wet not submerged.
  3. Apply fermented fruit or plant juice regularly diluted as instructed with water – every 2-3 days initially to help stop the development of green bacteria.

http://www.naturalpigfarming.com/microorganismuse.htm


4. Add a small amount of non-mud material to the wallow – rice hulls, peanut shells - to allow the indigenous microorganisms encouraged by the fermented fruit /plant juice to have a presence.


Best regards,Mark Cunliffe, NaturalPigFarming.com

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