Pig Husbandry

Course CodeBAG209
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn the skills necessary for successful pig management: in commercial production, self sufficiency, or as a hobby.

A sound foundation course that helps develop a broad understanding of pig biology and production; covering such things as breeding and selection, feeding, diseases, boar management, managing the sow and litter, fattening pigs, record keeping and more.

  • Learn to manage your pigs effectively
  • Increase your profits
  • Learn the best methods for fattening
  • Improve your husbandry of sows & litters

All domesticated pigs are descended from two closely related species: Sus vittatus, from Asia (mainly China and Thailand) and Sus scrofa, the wild pig of Europe and North Africa.

The Asian pig has short legs, a wide dished face and the ability to fatten rapidly. The influence of this pig can be seen in the Berkshire and Middle White breeds. The European pig was thin with a long, pointed face. The Tamworth is a modern pig that shows these characteristics. Fixing and improvement of breeds has been taking place for over one hundred years. Pigs are kept only for the production of meat. The meat can be used in two different ways - pork and bacon. As such, two distinct types of pig have evolved. The pork type for the production of fresh meat  and the bacon type for the production of cured meat, bacon and ham.

For modern pig husbandry, it is not so important to choose a pork type or a bacon type. Due to better breeding, stricter selection and, above all, scientific feeding the modern pig can produce good quality pork or bacon. The feeding system and age at slaughter will determine what the pig will produce.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Background to pig raising
    • Pig Farming
    • Pig Husbandry terms
    • Hybrids in pig farming
    • Pig breeds
    • Pig Production systems
    • Building systems
    • Environmental controls
    • Building materials
    • Floors
    • Pig pens
    • Waterers and feeders
    • Fencing
    • Waste water treatment using reed beds
    • Water flow
    • Anaerobic ponds
    • Suitable plants
  2. Breeding and selection
    • Heritability in pigs
    • Testing pig performance
    • Points for selection
    • Pure breeding
    • Cross breeding
    • Crossbreeding systems
    • Single cross
    • Back crossing
    • Rotational crossing
    • Hybrid breeding
    • Artificial insemination
    • Animal selection
  3. Feeding Pigs
    • Types of rations
    • Energy requirements
    • Protein requirements
    • Mineral requirements
    • Vitamin requirements
    • Digestive system
    • Understanding feeding
    • Feeding on pasture
  4. Pig diseases
    • General health problems
    • Management practices
    • Notifiable pig diseases
    • Some major diseases affecting all pigs
    • Diseases affecting sows
    • Diseases of growing and fattening pigs
    • Handling and restraining pigs
    • Vices in pigs
    • Summary of pig diseases
    • Pre-weaning period
    • Post-weaning period
    • Breeder pigs
  5. Managing the boar
    • Selecting a boar
    • Housing
    • Feeding
    • Health
    • Breeding
  6. Managing the sow and litter
    • Selection of gilts
    • Housing
    • Feeding
    • Weaning
    • Ovulation
    • During pregnancy
    • Before farrowing
    • Farrowing
    • Lactation
    • After farrowing
    • Management of the suckling pig
    • Marking Pigs and Ear Notching
    • Points to consider at weaning
  7. Management of Fattening pigs
    • Feeding fatteners
    • Housing
    • Transporting to market
    • Cuts of pig meat
  8. Economics and records
    • Efficiency factors
    • Gross output
    • Records
    • Pig Calendar
    • Pig Ration
    • Pig Register
    • Sow Record
  9. Managing a Piggery
    • Research innovative practices
    • Evaluate the production performance of a specified piggery.


  • Select appropriate pig breeds for different purposes.
  • Explain how to manage the breeding of pigs.
  • Explain the physical facilities, including buildings and equipment of a pig farm.
  • Explain the procedures used in managing the condition, including the health and feeding of pigs.
  • Explain the husbandry operations associated with pig farming.
  • Develop strategies for marketing, including both traditional and innovative marketing plans of pigs and pig products.
  • Develop different strategies, including both traditional and innovative approaches, to manage the general operations associated with pig farming



You will learn a wide variety of things, through a combination of reading, interacting with tutors, undertaking research and practical tasks, and watching videos.

Listed below are examples of the activities and set tasks included in the course, these will further establish the necessary knowledge base for this husbandry industry:

  • List the commercial breeds of pigs being successfully farmed in the learner's locality.
  • Compare the different characteristics of common breeds of pigs
  • Select appropriate pig breeds for three different specified situations
  • Explain heritability factors relevant to pig breeding.
  • Explain how pig performance testing is carried out by one experienced tester.
  • List factors which affect the selection of pigs for breeding.
  • Compare applications for straight breeding with cross breeding of pigs in a specified locality.
  • Describe how the process of artificial insemination of a pig is carried out by an experienced technician.
  • Explain the different husbandry operations carried out during each of the different stages of pig breeding
  • List the minimum facilities, including equipment and buildings necessary for growing healthy pigs.
  • Recommend three items of machinery which can be used to automate a piggery operation
  • Explain the housing requirements of pigs in a commercial production enterprise
  • Compare housing requirements for boars with those for sows in a piggery
  • Develop maintenance guidelines for pig shelters, including large and small sheds.
  • Prepare a sketch design of an area for farming pigs, showing the location of major facilities.
  • Assess the disposal system(s) being used for effluent at a specified piggery.
  • Explain the concept of reed bed treatment of effluent for a piggery.
  • List pests and diseases that commonly affect pigs.
  • Develop a checklist of general signs which indicate ill health in pigs.
  • Describe three significant pests or diseases of pigs, including their symptoms and effect.
  • Explain a treatment for each of three different common pests or diseases in pigs.
  • Determine the health status of a unit of pigs at a piggery, using a checklist developed by the learner.
  • Report on the significance of health services for pigs, including veterinary and quarantine services, as used on a piggery
  • Explain a vaccination program, including what it is, how it is performed and it's expected benefits, that is used at a specific piggery.
  • Explain the function of the different parts of a pigs digestive system
  • List various food sources for different food nutrients for pigs
  • Analyse the ingredients in a pig diet, being used at a commercial piggery
  • Describe food ration requirements for a specific pig
  • Prepare a sample of pig feed suitable for either a boar, a weaner, or a porker.
  • Explain the differences in feeding pigs under different circumstances
  • Explain the techniques used to physically handle pigs in different situations
  • Prepare a timetable of husbandry tasks, from weaning to marketing, for fattening a pig.
  • Compare two different, but commercially viable, systems of raising pigs
  • Prepare an annual program of routine pig husbandry tasks, for a specified enterprise.
  • List pig products commonly sold through retail outlets in the learner's locality.
  • Analyse wholesale and retail marketing systems for pig products.
  • Explain the factors affecting sales of pig products, over a twelve month period, in a specific locality.
  • Explain the factors affecting the cost of pig products, over twelve months, in a specific locality.
  • Analyse the marketing of a specified pig product from the farm through to the consumer, including associated work tasks, and costs involved.
  • Write an innovative plan for the marketing of pigs or a specified pig product.
  • List factors which affect the profitability of a pig farm in a specified locality.
  • Evaluate the production performance of a specified piggery.
  • Explain the organisational structure of a specified piggery.
  • Write a job specification for one member of staff of a piggery.
  • Assess the impact of staff interactions on productivity in a specified piggery.
  • Recommend ways to increase unit performance of a piggery reviewed in a case study.
  • Write a management procedure, including contingency arrangements, for control of production targets and budgeted costs on a pig farm.
  • Explain the legal requirements and regulations appropriate to operating a commercial piggery in your locality.
  • Analyse the procedures involved in purchasing a specific piggery which is advertised for sale.
  • Determine three innovations in the pig industry, which may improve management of a specified pig enterprise.
  • Evaluate three different innovations being used in the pig industry. 
  • Develop a production plan for pigs on a specified property.
  • Design a form for record keeping of appropriate piggery data.


Ruminants have four stomachs and are able to make use of a large amount of roughage in their diet.  Examples of ruminants are cattle and sheep. Pigs are non-ruminants so their feeding is different to that of most farm animals.  There are a number of factors that the farmer has to think about when working out rations for his pigs.  These are summarised below:
  • Pigs have a simple digestive system and cannot digest much fibre.  Modern pigs are fed almost entirely on concentrates.
  • Pigs have no protective coats like sheep and cattle so are affected by temperature changes.  They eat less in hot weather and more in cold weather.
  • Modern pigs are housed intensively and are entirely dependent on the farmer for all their nutrients.  Although pigs will eat anything (including each other!)  the farmer must make sure that they are fed a ration that is balanced for all their nutritional needs.  Some animal protein must be included in their diet especially during the early stages of growth.
  • Crude Fibre in the ration should not be more than 5% for large pigs and 2-4% for small pigs.
  • Pigs for pork or bacon do not have a "store" period when an animal is growing slowly.  Pigs are killed before they are fully grown, and must be fed for growth and fattening at the same time.  The aim of the farmer must be to produce rapid, uninterrupted growth in his animals.
  • During the first four months in the life of a pig, the muscle tissue and the bones of the skeleton develop faster than the fat tissues; after four months of age, this process is reversed and fat develops faster than muscle which forms the lean meat.  This explains why pigs can be fed meal ad lib (as much as they can eat) up to pork weight but have to be rationed in the later stages of bacon production.
  • The main consideration in pig keeping is the cost of the food.  This is generally 80% of the cost of producing a pork or bacon pig.

Types of Rations

There are four basic rations fed for pigs and these are: Creep Feed Meal or Pellets, Sow Meal, Porker Meal and Baconer Meal.

Need to consider the levels of:

    Energy in pig rations is supplied by cereals and oilseeds.  However, the type of cereal fed can affect the sort of fat formed by the pig.  Pigs naturally produce a soft, oily type of fat which shrinks on cooking.  The fat also has a poor appearance and is difficult to cure while making bacon and is, thus, undesirable. 
    During the process of digestion, fats in a food are broken down into glycerol and fatty acids.  Some fatty acids are saturated which means they form oils at normal temperatures.  The type of fatty acid in a food will determine the type of fat formed by the pig.  
    It has always been known that animal protein was essential for pigs (particularly young pigs).  Pigs fed without some animal protein will not thrive and are liable to become cannibals and eat each other. Animal protein has a high Biological Value.  All proteins contain 20 - 25 amino acids.  During digestion, the protein in a food is broken down into amino acids and then built up again into protein.  The pig is unable to manufacture all the necessary amino acids and relies on receiving them in its food.  If one or more of the amino acids is short in the food, the pig will become deficient in them. 
    Some amino acids are vitally important to good health; these are called the Essential Amino Acids.  Proteins that contain all the Essential Amino Acids (like animal protein) are said to have a high biological value. A point to remember is that the amino acids that are essential for pigs are not necessarily essential for cattle. Cattle are able to manufacture certain amino acids that the pig cannot produce and vice versa.



    Most pigs are raised in piggeries on a medium or large scale, to be may be sold on as young animals to be fattened elsewhere; or grown to maturity, then sold on to be butchered. Some piggeries may butcher and process the meat into meat products (value adding) on farm. Some raise pigs on a small scale; for self sufficiency or keep a pig (or perhaps two as pets).


    Pork products have always been in demand; and that situation is unlikely to change. The level of demand however can fluctuate; which in turn may increase the amount of work, and profitability of raising pigs. This is no different to the vast majority of farm enterprises though; and for that matter, businesses of any type.  Raising pigs can be costly both in terms of money and labour.



    Where can this course lead you?

    An extensive course like this is sets you on the path to develop your career faster, easier and more appropriate; provided you approach your career with realistic expectations.

    The course tutors available to you, are skilled professionals who are fully qualified in the various subject areas. The combination of their qualifications and many years of actual practical experience, will benefit you greatly as you work through the course. 

    Through practical tasks, research, observation and networking; when studying with ACS, you are guided to develop not only knowledge of agricultural science, but also "understanding", "awareness" and the right "attitude" that is needed to build either a sustainable career or business.

    Graduates may use what they learn in a whole range of possible situations:
    • As a Piggery manger
    • Free range pig farmer
    • Piggery hand
    • Pig breeder
    • Research Institute roles
    • Manufacturing/supplying products to the pig industry
    • Marketing or sales
    • Wholesale/Retail Specialist
    • Teaching or writing about pigs
    • As a consultant
    • Self sufficiency
    • Caring for "pet" pigs
    • A foundation for further studies

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