Organic Pig Farming – is more to it than meets the eye. At Regan Farm we love our piggies, we have spent a lot of effort making sure we understand what makes our piggies happy and making sure they are thoroughly content while they’re in our care.
Here’s some of the things that makes the piggies as happy as pigs in… well, an organic pig farm.
They are surprisingly clean animals, and they have a sleeping area and a toilet area. On our farm they have enough space so the two areas are very distinct and kept a good distance from the other. We make sure that our pigs have lots of space so they can live as close to how they would in the wild as possible.
The pigs love to snuffle around and furrow for roots and vegetables. Despite being given a good portion of organic fruit and veg every morning they spend about three quarters of their day snuffling and furrowing. Some keepers of pigs see this as a destructive behaviour and if you don’t keep an eye on it, or give them different areas to snuffle and root around in, they can destroy a farmyard or a field. But when you put this instinct to good use, they are very good at keeping the weeds down – or even rotating into a fallow field.
Pigs are a social animal and they live together in family groups, sleeping together in the same nest – all snuggled up. They bring new grasses and straw to their nest when it’s’ time to turn in for the night. When we have a couple of social groups in our care each of our pigs respect the other’s nesting sites and no one pees or poops in the sleeping areas. Piglets know their nest is the safest place to be, and have a very strong instinct to run back to their nest if they are frightened or separated from their mother or other siblings.
When you come to see our pigs you may not notice, but they have a social hierarchy, as do most animals. Once the pecking order is established, they live quite harmoniously, the dominant members of the group won’t take more than is needed. This means that everyone in the group gets enough food, and a place to shelter. And of course, someone to snuggle.
The bonds that young sibling piglets form are often carried on into adulthood and when they meet up they greet each other enthusiastically making a special hello noise and touching snouts. Pigs are very vocal and talk to each other during their activities. The noises they make let each other know of good rooting sites, if they have found food and even what mood they are in.
Young pigs still need a lot of sleep and all our pigs love to sunbathe and wallow in mud. Mud is very important in an organic pig life, it not only cools them down – as they aren’t very good at regulating their own temperature (did you know they don’t sweat?), but mud is also used to protect their skin from the sun. Poor piggies are prone to sunburn. Not only do we give our pigs the right environment while they’re in our care to have the space to sleep safely and root around; but we make sure that they have plenty of mud.
But most importantly, pigs love a good belly rub. They are very affectionate, and not only show their affection to one another, but also to us when we drop in to give them their feed for the day – shouting out a happy hello and looking for a good belly rub.
Please do come onto our farm to visit our Pigs, they are fun to watch and maybe you can see some of the things we’ve talked about here.