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Ask Jackie headline

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Jackie Clay answers questions for BHM Subscribers & Customers
on any aspect of low-tech, self-reliant living.

Jackie Clay

Q and A: raising hogs, pinto beans, and pigs eating walnuts

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Raising hogs

My husband and I are considering raising a couple of hogs. My question is about their feed and fencing. I saw that you and Will had used pallets for housing and fencing for your pigs. How is that working out for you? How long will it take a heritage breed to be ready for the butcher? What kind of feed do you recommend? Also, do hogs need salt licks like cattle and horses? How much room should two hogs have for their pen?

Maida Gaddis
Bonanza, Oregon

Glad to help, Maida! Pigs are a great homestead animal, giving a quick turnaround between purchase and butchering size; usually only about 6 months or so depending on feed, care, and genetics. We have Red Wattles and they go from weaning weight to butchering size in 7 months. For us, butchering size is about 275 pounds.

The pallet fencing and housing works very well for us. Three hogs are comfortable in a pen about 30×20 feet with a house about 12×5 feet, and 4 feet high. We stuffed the pallets with rammed down straw that we made the house from so it is insulated. If you get quite a bit of rain where you live, I’d recommend an overhang on the roof as well as sheet metal to keep it from dripping water inside the house.

Pigs grow nearly twice as fast when they receive salt in their diet. Usually chop or ground pig feed contains salt so you don’t have to provide a salt block. Read the label of your feed. If it doesn’t contain salt, you can easily provide a salt block for your pigs. Watch that they don’t eat it (they should lick it from time to time and perhaps bite off a small chunk). Too much salt can poison a pig but they very seldom overeat it unless they have been deprived of salt for some time. We feed a simple 14% chop to our pigs supplemented with waste homestead products such as whey, milk, vegetables, extra eggs, etc. I hope this helps you. A good book I’d recommend is Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs for complete information. — Jackie

Pinto beans and pigs eating walnuts

Today I cooked pinto beans and then smashed and heated them for refried beans (no meat). They tasted really good but were a very unappetizing grey color. How do I get them nice and brown with out adding meat or bouillon?

Can pigs eat walnuts in the shell and some with husks still on?

Palisade, Colorado

What I do is fry the beans with a little diced onion and chili powder. I make sure they dry down to where they brown a bit from the frying. We always like the way they look — and taste!

Yes, pigs can eat walnuts in the shell and with husks still on too. In homesteading days, hogs were pretty much run wild, being rounded up only to sell or butcher. And during this time, they would eat a wide variety of foods from small mammals and birds to acorns, hickory nuts, and walnuts among other foods. Today’s pigs are more confined and restricted to mainly foods we humans dump in front of them. — Jackie

2 Responses to “Q and A: raising hogs, pinto beans, and pigs eating walnuts”

  1. Julie Gilstrap Says:

    I just wanted to comment that my father and his friend raised pigs together for home consumption and his friend was a very frugal older German man.. he decided he did not want to pay for pig food with my father so told my father to just feed his pig the walnut hulls from processing on our walnut orchard. Well the pigs were butchered and processed and the man found that his pork was ruined by the oiliness and overly walnut taste of the pork meat. It was talk among the families for years that because the man was so cheap he ruined a good pig.

  2. jackie clay Says:


    I can believe that. I ate pork once that had been only fed soybean meal sweepings from the elevator. The fat was so soft and oily that the pork was nearly inedible! With everything, moderation is the key!


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