Even if you’ve got public liability insurance for your pigs (and if you don’t, you should – I get mine from the NFU), you really want to ensure they don’t escape! This is especially true for those of us who have microholdings, as we tend to keep our livestock in residential areas. My pigs will be spending the next four months on the vegetable patch that stretches the length of my drive in the middle of a housing estate, and my road is a bus route and frequented by students driving like crazies to the local college.
Imagine for a moment the havoc two pigs could make if they escaped into that environment!
Often, piglets are raised with an electric fence, so they arrive knowing to keep away from the biting wire than marks out their new home. However, these latest arrivals were raised with standard stock fencing, and have no electric fence experience.
This, then, is how I go about training weaner to respect the electric fence.
As you’ll see from the diagram below, the main electric fence (in red) runs around the perimeter of the enclosure. But if I just put the weaners straight in here, they could well push their way straight through the electric fence, as much out of the confused shock of touching it as their desire to get out.
To avoid this, build a training fence (in dark grey) in front of the house out of pallets or hurdles or suchlike – the important thing is to make it pig-proof because this is not going to be electrified. Then run a couple of strands of electric wire at the far end (in blue) across the face of some timber. The important bit here is that the pigs can see through the electric wire / timber into the rest of the pen, so their natural inquisitiveness will draw them to it.
Once the pigs are in this inner enclosure, which only needs to be a few square metres, they will quickly lean that the wire is something to keep away from. This only takes a few days, but I tend to leave them for a week, just to make sure.
Then, when you remove this training fence and wire, allowing them full use of the run, they will respect the electric wire and keep away from it.
“Does it work?” you (or someone) ask(s).
I’ve never had a pig escape in all the years I’ve been doing this. Not only that, but I have heard from others that they successfully keep 800lb boars behind a single strand of electric wire!
To best understand, I suggest you take off your shoes and grab hold of an electric fence. You won’t do it more than once!