Raising Pigs: Pros and Cons

raising pigs - pros and cons

By Heather Jackson, contributing writer

I blame Craigslist.

A year ago we added a new adventure to our lives when we responded to an ad on Craigslist and went to pick up three cute, squealing, pink pigs from a nearby farm to add to our homestead.  While we have thoroughly enjoyed having pigs on our little farm and having the pork in the freezer, owning pigs isn’t for everyone.  Here are some pros and cons to consider before you make the leap into raising pigs.

Homestead pigs

Raising Pigs: The Pros and Cons

Pro:  With pigs on our homestead, we have zero food waste.  Like, ever.  The pigs eat all food scraps we throw their way.  We scrape our dishes into the “pig bucket” that sits on our kitchen counter.  We also pour in leftover milk, stale cereal, and whey from cheese making.  Basically, if it’s edible (not moldy) they will love it.  This keeps the cost of feeding them very low for animals so large!

Con:  Pigs eat a lot, which means that pigs poop a lot.  While they are much cleaner than we are often lead to believe, their pens can really stink on a hot day!  They generally designate a corner of their pen as the restroom, which seems rather civilized, but is still quite smelly when you are downwind.  If you have close neighbors, they might have well-founded objections to your pigs.

Pro:  Pigs are smart!  Some are even sweet and friendly and interacting with a friendly pig can be a delightful experience.

Con:  Pigs are smart!  They can figure out ways to escape their pen and once they do, they are difficult to catch!  They will need a strong enclosure, likely electrified, in order to keep them where you want them. (Jill: TRUTH. You should see what our pigs did to our front yard this summer…) 


vertical pig pic

Pro:  Pigs are fun to watch.  … [Continue Reading]

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Get Goats

5 reasons not to get goats: some of the hazards of goat ownership...
By Heather Jackson, contributing writer
Don’t get me wrong, I love my dairy goats, but today I’m going to tell you five reasons NOT to get goats…
I usually consider goats to be gateway livestock. They are one of the first stops as we fall down the rabbit hole that is homesteading (Jill: that was definitely true for us!). Goats are less expensive than cows and their size makes them a little less intimidating to the novice homesteader.  Because of that, I think many people get started with goats before they really think through the consequences.
There are many things to consider before getting goats, and I’ll be honest, some are a bit of a hassle. So, it’s a good idea to be aware of some of the headaches before you dive in!
 Why not to get goats:  Oreo the Goat

 5 Reasons You Might Reconsider Getting Goats

1. Toenail Trimming
Goat hooves have to be trimmed on a regular basis. Some goats need it more often than others, but proper trimming is very important to goat health.  Overgrown nails can make it very difficult for a goat to get around well, so they have to be taken seriously.
I’ll tell you, giving a goat a pedicure isn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done.
For me, hoof trimming involves strapping the goat into the milking stand and plying it with feed to keep it happy.  I then lift each foot in turn and scrape it clean with a foot pick and trim the nails with what amounts to a very sharp pair of pruning sheers. All the while, bending at an awkward angle and trying simultaneously not to cut myself with the clippers or get kicked in the face. It’s not that fun, y’all, but it has to get done.
2. Fencing (and escaping!)
If a fence can’t hold water, it can’t hold goats!  … [Continue Reading]

How to Train a Heifer to Become a Family Milk Cow

Twyla Title Photo

Today I’m welcoming Ashley from The Browning Homestead to the blog! Not all of us are fortunate to start off with a quiet, trained milk cow (I wasn’t!), so Ashley is sharing her expertise on how to start with a heifer, and end up with a quiet family cow!

We all have that dream of having our own milk cow. She gives us gallons upon gallons of milk each day. We’ll make yogurt, sour cream, butter, mozzarella cheese, and have lots of milk for the other barnyard animals.

While that was certainly my vision when I purchased my family cow, it didn’t quite turn out that way. We had trouble getting her bred and she didn’t give much milk. But she calved easily and was a gentle cow and terrific mother. So we decided to buy a few more milk cows: HEIFERS.

Training a heifer (a young female cow) to become a family milk cow can be a bit tricky sometimes. Following these few simple guidelines can set you and your milk cow up for a long, productive relationship together!

Practices for Pre-Calving

1. Bring your heifer (or cow) to your homestead before she calves. This will help her to become familiar with YOUR set-up. She’ll become comfortable and less nervous about where she will calve and who will most likely be around (kids, dogs, chickens, and other barnyard friends)

2. Practice your milking routine (without actually milking her). Tie her up to a post or put her in your milking stanchion. Give her a flake of good hay and practice your routine. Spray her down with fly spray and brush her all over. Don’t forget to tell her sweet nothings into her ear: what a good cow she is and how she’ll be a great mama cow!… [Continue Reading]

9 Tips for Training a Goat on the Milking Stand


Tips for Training a Goat to the Milk Stand

Today I’m welcoming Heather from Green Eggs and Goats!  She’s sharing her expertise on training a goat to cooperate on the milking stand–something which, I can attest, can be a bit of a challenge sometimes! 

I’ll be honest, training a new goat to the milk stand is not the easiest homesteading task I’ve ever set out to do.  Some goats are an absolute dream, they hop trustingly onto the stand and stand politely until you finish.  Most of the time, however, you leave your first few milkings feeling like you have just completed a triathalon!

9 Tips for Training a Goat on the Milking Stand

1.  Give them what they want, food!  All goats come with different personalities and appetites.  When I’m training, I will allow them to eat more sweet feed (or even put some molasses on the feed) if they have a sweet tooth.  I have one goat who loves alfalfa, so I let her have extra at the start of milking season.  If you can distract your goat with something yummy while you are training them, things are much easier.  Once she gets the hang of things, then I slowly change out her feed for more hay or her regular ration.

2.  Talk sweetly and keep a calm atmosphere.  A kicking goat can really bring out my frustration, but I try not to show it.  Talk calmly and sweetly to the goat, and try to keep a peaceful environment.  Sometimes I even diffuse a little lavender when I’m training a goat.  I’m not sure if it calms her or me, but either way, it seems to help.

3.  Hobbles.  I hate to use them, but I will strap goat hobbles to the back legs if I have a kicker on the stand.  It isn’t foolproof, but it does help calm the kicking down a little bit.… [Continue Reading]