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Fencing for Pastured Free Range Pigs

DSC_0040.JPGFencing can present a problem when farming free range pastured pigs. As they say, 'good fences make good neighbours', and your pigs wandering through nextdoor's lucerne is not going to make you popular!

Aside from issues with the neighbours and the risks that pigs would be exposed to should they wander, good fences are necessary to ensure the exclusion of feral pigs and the maintenance of your paddock rotations.

Managing an outdoor herd is almost impossible if you do not have well laid out and strong
fences. Trying to move pigs from one paddock only to have them escape into the next is a
huge waste of time and energy. That time and energy is better spent doing it right in the first
place.

Pigs are going to be tough on your fences, just as they are on most infrastructure. They will
usually prefer to go under a fence rather than over it and are capable of lifted pickets out of
the ground to do so. The key is very well strained wires that will cause too much discomfort
on their snouts to bother with.  Straining posts should also be robust to cope with the pressure pigs will apply to them.  Treated pine logs are probably not going to last very long!

Boundary fences and laneways should be well strained hinge joint. (see below) Internal fences can be electric.

Electric Fencing for pigs


DSC_0034.JPGFantastic for sows. Once they understand that a strand of wire may bite them when they touch it, they are usually wary for a long long time - usually. Of course you will find the sow that seems to have discovered that electric fences 'pulse' and that they can make a dash through it if they time things just right!

Electric fencing is also good for grower pigs and finishers, provided it is well maintained! A fence that has no power will be discovered very quickly. Its almost as if the pigs have their own monitoring system. Pigs love fence lines for some reason. They will snout dirt, wire, stumps or anything else they can locate up against the wires and earth out the fence. So, if you plan to use electric fences, plan to test them every single day.



Electric fences for very small pigs are difficult to maintain because very low wires are necessary to keep the pigs in. This means that the fence is very vulnerable and keeping plant growth away from the wires is a constant task.

Hinge Joint Fencing for pigs (see above)


A good fence to use is hinge joint (ringlock, mesh) 8 30 90. There is a specially manufactured pig mesh 8 15 90, but it is very expensive and I would only suggest it to be necessary when trying to keep in very small pigs (under weaner size).  Any fence designed to keep in pigs must be well strained. Hinge joint is no exception. Pickets or post need to be closer together than those used for other livestock. Keep in mind that a pig is going to attempt to lift the bottom wire, so if the distance between posts is small and the wire is well attached to those posts, it becomes physically impossible for the pigs to pass under and will prevent them getting enough leverage to pull up the post. You can add a strand of barbed wire very close to the ground, and highly strained, that causes major discomfort for busy snouts trying to get under the fence.

A single standout electric wire at the appropriate height (adjust to size of pigs to be kept in paddock - around snout height) used in conjunction with a hinge joint fence will make it very secure.  This keeps the pigs off the fence and keeps the fence maintained for much longer.

Barbed Wire for pigs

Barbed wire fences are not a good idea. The pigs will try to push through them and cause
themselves harm, and in the case of sows, can damage udders. A single strand at the bottom
of the fence is ideal, but we would not recommend extensive use of barbed wire.

Gates

The same concerns apply to gates - the pigs will get their snouts under them and lift. Simply
choose your fittings carefully and buy those that will prohibit the gate from being lifted off its hinges.
Pigs are curious creatures and will want to explore their environment. Keep them content in
their own paddock with enough water, feed, shade and shelter and they will not find it
necessary to test the strength and design of your fencing.


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The opinions, advice and information contained in this website have not been provided at the request of any person but are offered by  PROOF and Australian Pig Farmers solely for informational purposes. While the information provided has been formulated in good faith, it should not be relied on as a substitute for professional advice. Australian Pig Farmers, PROOF or do not accept liability in respect of any action taken by any person in reliance on the content of this publication.


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