Friday, May 27, 2011

Maybe trainable is a better description. . . .

Pigs are reputed to be very smart animals. I believe I've even mentioned here how intelligent and wonderful they are, but after this week, I am wondering if trainable is a better description of a pig than intelligent.

Our pigs are pastured. We aren't there yet, but the idea is to have several pastures to rotate them through. Three pastures would be ideal for the feeder pigs. We can let them eat and dig up one pasture, and when it is cleared, rotate them to the next, and plant the first with goodies for later.

Since weaning, the feeder pigs have been in one pasture. They have done a wonderful job clearing it and digging it up. We finally got the second pasture fenced in about a week ago, but we can't get the pigs to go in it.

We gated off the first pasture with an electric fence gate, and made an opening next to that gate to go into the second pasture. Please note that electric fence was there before the opening to the second pasture was made. Kellen and I tried to herd the pigs into the new pasture. They wanted nothing to do with it.

They would go as far as the line where the electric fence was, and then they would budge no further. They jostled and pushed each other and us, but no pig would cross that line into the new pasture. A couple of them went through the electric gate into the old pasture, and several of them got by us before Kellen and I gave up in frustration.

It was time for plan B; lure them with food. We let the self feeder run out. This morning I called them out of the building with a bucket of feed. I put a small pile of feed right at the line where the fence used to be. Very gingerly a couple of them started to eat. Soon all ten of them were pushing and shoving for position on that pile of feed, but none of them would go around to the other side of the pile which would cause them to cross that imaginary line.

I took a little more feed and drew a line with it from the first pile to a second small pile beyond the imaginary line. I sat and watched for about 15 minutes. Still no pig would cross that line. I got tired of watching and went about some other chores.

An hour later, I went to look again. This is the picture I saw. Most of the pigs were still outside sniffing around for feed. Look closely. The black pig on the left has its nose right about where the fence was. Just past his nose is the pole that marks the corner of the two pastures. Keep looking left and you can see two untouched piles of feed on the ground. Apparently, they aren't hungry enough yet to cross that line. I wonder how long it will take?

Pigs, smart enough to train to electric fence, but not smart enough to know when the fence is no longer there. Trainable? They certainly are. Smart? I'm not inclined to think so at this moment.


  1. Mine did the same at first. They don't see well, so once they figure out where the electric fence is, they don't want to cross it. I lured them with a path of corn kernels, calling them like I always do when I feed them. It took awhile but they finally followed. Now they have learned that if I am calling them, it is safe to touch the wire. They truly are very smart!

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