Western Oregon. Rain. Cold. Mud. MUD.
Some days it doesn't stop raining and feeding the pigs becomes a real challenge. It's not that I'm the Wicked Witch of the West, it's that I don't want the pigs standing out in winter weather getting soaked while they eat. So normally I watch the radar all day, waiting for a little break when I can run out and slop around in the mud with my bucket to distribute feed into bowls while fighting off hungry pigs. Even with a downhill slope, the holes created by pig feet form hundreds of water collection spots, so it's impossible to walk through without splashing brown stripes over my lower half.
And the falling. In fairness, the times I've fallen in the mud have not been the pigs' fault. Local mud is glue-y and I'd go to back up a step and find my front foot stayed sucked down while my body weight shifted backwards.
So having slopped around in pasture mud for a few years now, I took advantage of a newly fenced area and construction of a new shelter to design a pig feeding ramada. I've never seen such a thing but it was clear in my mind. A space with four posts and a roof where pigs could eat and stay dry and a low barrier that I could stand behind and pour feed into bowls.
Here's the design:
For the feeder, I used this brilliant idea from Farm Builder and, because I only have four pigs to feed, I splurged and got some tire feeder bowls from Tractor Supply.
The stall mats you can see in that photo didn't work at all--the pigs were slipping around on them. So I'll put down wood chips instead and use the stall mats to keep my path from the gate free of mud.
One design flaw is that the feeders are just a bit too high for my nine-month-old pigs to reach, so that encourages their tendency to stand in the bowls. I've put some lumber scraps inside the tires to give the bowl and the tires a little more support, but we'll see how it goes. Can't make a silk purse out of a...well you know.
The large troughs work perfectly as rain collectors – so I don't anticipate needing to add water to troughs during the winter.
The tire platform is mobile so we can move it or replace it or whatever.
Today has been a steady downpour with no relief from the rain predicted and area flood warnings and 38 degrees when I went out to feed. As I was pouring feed into bowls from behind my safety wall, the pigs emerged from their new shelter with straw on their backs and were able to eat in a dry location. And I didn't have to change mud-splattered pants when I got back in the house.
Quotes and Trivia
“I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”
George Bernard Shaw
wrestle with a pig:
(idiomatic) To engage in a struggle with an opponent that benefits from the struggle even without winning it.