What Type of Pastured Pig Fencing is Best for You?
The Best Pig Fencing Ideas
Reading Time: 5 minutes
You’ve done your research and found the perfect pasture pig for your farm. Knowing what pigs you want to raise is the first step. Now, let’s talk pastured pig fencing!
Raising pigs on pasture is the healthiest way to raise your animals. Whether you keep traditional hogs or grazing pigs, fencing is a primary concern. Knowing what your animals will do and how they will behave in their pens will assist you in getting the correct fencing. When raising traditional hogs outdoors, you are providing a better quality of life than pigs raised solely indoors. You have to understand that these pigs will dig and root in the soil because that is what they were built to do. Fencing has to be done with that in mind. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, in fact, it has been done for hundreds of years, but extra precautions when designing pastured pig fencing must be taken to avoid homestead fencing mistakes. Growing up, my grandmother raised traditional Yorkshire pigs outdoors. They had a tendency to nose the ground along the fences, and if her primary fencing had been electricity, they would have shorted it out on a continual basis.
Raising pastured pigs that graze the ground and do not root like traditional pigs will open you up to more variety in your fencing.
Hog panels are built 16’ long and are constructed of heavy gauge wire. They have smaller holes near the bottom of the panel, which are useful for keeping small piglets inside. Because they are built very sturdy, they hold up to the scratching and rubbing that pigs do on a daily basis. T-posts or other wood posts are needed to hold them in place, but you can put up a small 48’ x 48’ enclosure rather quickly and have the confidence to know your pigs should be safely contained. This small enclosure works well as a temporary pen for a winter or spring sacrificial pasture. It also works well as a paddock for your sow to farrow in. The pros of using hog panels are that you will have a sturdy fence that can contain both adults and piglets. The cons are it can be costly if using hog panels to enclose a larger pasture area.
Another option for fencing is using wire fencing. There are many different options of wire fencing available, which gives you the ability to use the wire that works the best on your farm. T-posts or wooden posts will again be needed to secure the fence. The difference in spacing will be different with wire fencing as compared to hog panels. Due to the fact that this wire is not as strong or sturdy as hog panels are, the posts will need to be positioned much closer together.
A large benefit of using wire fencing is that it is less expensive than using hog panels to enclose a large area. The problem with using wire fencing is that it isn’t as sturdy and if the pigs scratch or rub on the fence, then they are more able to bend it. A lot of times, farmers will install a strand or two of electric fence just inside to deter the pigs from rubbing, bending, or climbing on it.
The third option for pastured pig fencing is to use an electric fence. Now, electric fence comes in many different types and styles, so picking what works the best for the animals that you are raising is the key to being happy with your fences. There are smooth wire, high-tensile, and electro-netting fences.
When using smooth wire or high-tensile electric fencing, you will need to use either T-posts or wooden posts again to secure the wire. Proper placement of the posts is extremely important to prevent sagging. With smooth wire, the posts tend to be closer together because tightening the lines is not as easy as using high-tensile wire. Therefore, the lines will stay marginally loose in comparison and requires additional posts to prevent sagging. High tensile wire has good tighteners that are very easy to use and can be tightened more efficiently. Bigger spaces between posts are not a problem due to the tighter lines. In either circumstance, a good grounding system is a must and will aid in the effectiveness of your electric pig fence. Electro-netting fence comes with its own set of poles that are easy to install by simply pushing them into the ground. It is easy to move, easy to install, and, if functioning properly, keeps the animals in their pastures. Electro-netting fences come in many varieties, styles, and heights, so you can pick the one that fits your animals the best. Personally, on our farm, we use electro-netting fencing for all of our maternity ward paddocks. We use the feral hog fence, 10x24x12 from Premier 1. For many reasons, we prefer this netting over the others available. These reasons include: the bottom line being a ground line, so if the fence sags a bit, it doesn’t short itself out. The spacing on the bottom of the fence is smaller than the top, so even small piglets cannot usually go through. Piglets learn right from birth that they should respect the electric fences. One other reason we prefer this exact fence is that it is tall enough to keep even our 450-pound boars in, if need be, and is short enough to step over to visit with the pigs easily.
All electro-netting fences, just like smooth wire and high-tensile fences, require a good ground system, so make sure you put in a ground system that fits the requirements of your land and the soil type you have on your farm.
The pros of electric fencing are that the pigs respect electricity a lot and stay in their pastures very well, provided the electricity is working properly, and you have a good grounding system in place. The added pro to electro-netting fence is that you can move it around very easily and in a short amount of time. The cons to using electric fencing are that if your electricity goes out or stops working, the pigs will know about it almost immediately and will let you know. The other problem with only relying on electric fencing is that when you live in a climate that gets a lot of snow, the pigs will not ground as easily when walking on a lot of packed down snow and won’t get a shock as easily. At our farm, the sows tend to always respect the fences, whereas the boars get smart and realize they can take a walk and visit everyone once we get too much snow in the winter. We have to make smaller, temporary winter paddocks with hog panels or wire fencing for this reason.
Regardless of the type of fencing you decide will work the best on your farm, there will be pros and cons. Knowing what they are in advance and making an educated decision will help prevent you from starting over or changing things in the future.
Green grass and pastures make for happy, healthy pigs. Good fencing that keeps your animals where you want them makes for a happy and enjoyable farm!
What do you use for pastured pig fencing? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!
Originally published in Countryside January/February 2022 and regularly vetted for accuracy.