Tips on Pig Behavior and Handling to Help You Raise Pigs
Research, along with
common sense, tells us that handling our food animals gently will
result in higher levels of productivity. This is certainly true of
pig production. In fact, pigs are particularly susceptible to
becoming over-excited due to aggressive handling. Outside of daily
activities such as observing or
feeding pigs for health issues, pigs
tend to be handled at specific times in their lives such as
processing at birth, castration, weaning and moving to the nursery,
moving to the finisher, and marketing. Breeding stock is handled at
breeding, pregnancy checking, vaccination, and weaning.
Pigs have a strong natural urge to escape and will try to squeeze
through any gap that they detect. They also have a natural tendency
to follow each other and maintain visual or body contact. In
addition, pigs are very easily frightened. Bright light, shadows,
darkness and loud noise can all startle pigs.
Pigs raised in
artificial light will often refuse to enter bright sunlight.
Eliminate loose equipment, slick floors, moving or shiny objects,
and water puddles from the handling areas. Also, be sure to avoid
aggressive handling behaviors, including using electric prods,
yelling or making loud noises, moving pigs too fast or in groups
that are too large, overcrowding them, and allowing excessively long
periods of inactivity.
Handlers who understand the concepts of flight zone and point of
balance will be able to move pigs more easily. The flight zone is
the pig's personal space, and the size of the flight zone is
determined by the wildness or tameness of the pig. Completely tame
pigs have no flight zone and allow people to touch them.