Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Benefits of Raising Pigs Inside

Livestock farmers all over the upper Midwest are bracing for a cold spell. How do we make sure our pigs are safe?

Over the last few days, Jonathan has made sure the stand-by generator is in working order. We would need that in the event of a power outage. He also made sure the LP tanks were filled, to ensure plenty of fuel to run the heaters in our barns.

We like raising our pigs in barns, especially during cold spells like these! When Jonathan does chores every morning and evening, he is looking at the health of the animal, the food and water supply, the high and low temperature swings, and the quality of air in each barn. Even with the temperature at -10, and windchills at -26, the barns never went below 73 degrees F last night. The heater is set to turn on at 72 degrees, so it never had to run.

I wrote more about how we care for livestock in winter storms in December 2012. Click on the title to read Blizzards and Caring for Livestock.

Another benefit of raising pigs inside is disease control. There is a horrible sickness that is spreading like crazy between pig farms. It doesn’t matter if you raise your pigs inside, or outside, they can catch it. All pig farmers try to keep their pigs as healthy as possible, but sometimes that becomes really difficult. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus has been found pretty close to our farm. By eliminating the ability for birds to land in their pens, and restricting the people who come into contact with our animals and equipment, we can hopefully keep them from getting sick. (To read more about PEDv, click here.) We hate when our animals get sick, just like we hate when our own kids get sick. We are thankful for a good veterinarian who will help us figure out the best treatment for our animals when they do get sick.¬† We treat our animals a lot like we treat our family. We keep them safe, warm, fed, and as healthy as possible. When they do get sick, we treat them according to the advice of the veterinarian. The difference is, we know we are raising the pigs for meat – meat that we feed our family, and meat that will feed many of our friends.

For us, climate controlled barns are a good way to raise pigs year ’round in Minnesota.

Happy Pigs!
Happy Pigs!

My friend, Janice, of A Colorful Adventure, has complied other storm related blog posts. Head on over and check them out!

Author: Carolyn Olson

I grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis, MN. In 1988, I married my best friend, and moved to the farm. Jonathan and I have three daughters, and will soon have a son-in-law! I love life on the farm, and wouldn't trade it for anything!

14 thoughts on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Benefits of Raising Pigs Inside”

  1. This isn’t complicated: shelter when there’s adverse weather, fresh air when the weather’s good, freedom to express natural behaviors always, a reasonably sized herd in a reasonably large space keeps down disease transmission (epidemiology 101). That’s how swineherds have been doing it for thousands of years.

    1. You are correct that swineherds have been using these basic principles for thousands of years. There have been vast improvements in animal husbandry in those thousands of years, though. One of those improvements is the use of barns in climates like ours, to regulate temperature in the winter. When we raised pigs outside, we had many that would end up with frost bitten ears and tails. More often than not, it was due to their stubborn nature, and not going inside the available barn when it was so cold. That isn’t to say that our preference is the right way for everyone to raise pigs. I have friends in Minnesota who raise pigs in a hoop barn, with access to the outdoors in the summer. It works quite well for them, and the people who buy their pork love it.

      I thought it was important to share my story for those who have little to no experience with raising animals. I would rather they hear it from me than from an animal rights organization.

  2. Which animal rights organization doesn’t want you to keep pigs indoors in subzero temperatures, as long as they have adequate ability to express natural behaviors, social behaviors etc?

      1. I’m not. I’ve never heard of an animal rights organization saying that pigs should be left outdoors during a polar vortex. Have you?

  3. As a Texas beef producer, I don’t know much about raising swine except show swine. I really enjoyed this post and found it very interesting! Thanks for sharing!

  4. That’s ridiculous. I belong to several animal rights organizations and I wish you didn’t raise pigs for meat but since you do I’m glad that they are safe and warm and free to move about and are well cared for while they are alive.

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