The Hog Houdini: Fencing Your Pigs To Prevent Great Escapes

Posted on: 28 August 2015

You may not think that small pigs have the ability to climb fences or fit through tiny holes, but they are master escape artists and one of the most difficult animals to keep penned. If you are building a pig enclosure for the first time, you need to invest in the right kind of fencing and learn some fencing techniques to save yourself from having to wrestle some pigs back into their pen on a Saturday morning. Here are some guidelines that will keep your yard safe and prevent you from adding "pig wrangler" to your resume. 

1. Don't rely on fencing built for other animals

If you have an existing paddock once used for horses, goats, or sheep, you might be tempted to save a few bucks by simply converting this area to a hog enclosure. However, an enclosure should be built specifically with pigs in mind. Wooden enclosure with horizontal planks are no good, as pigs can easily squeeze below them. Also, wire fencing made for coats or sheep is not as firm as wire fencing designed for pigs, and it can easily be bent by aspiring escapees. Pigs can also chew through fencing that is not thick enough, and they will work to defeat a fence if they perceive a weak material or a weak spot. 

2. Build a solid fence while pigs are young

Older hogs and sows are slow-moving and they become creatures of habit, which means they begin to enjoy the enclosure as it provides them with both a familiar eating place and sleeping place. Young pigs are not like this, however. They have boundless energy and a deep desire to move beyond the confines of the paddock. Pigs are extraordinarily intelligent, and so once they have formed patterns of escape, they are likely to do so again. Your fence should be built solidly and reinforced when piglets are first introduced to the fenced area -- this will prevent them from developing escape patterns and will save you the struggle of trying to recapture quick and sleek piglets. 

3. Keep boars well-contained

Besides piglets, one of your biggest challenges will be containing breeding boars. They will do practically anything to get to sows that you may or may not have on your property, including destroying the most secure fences at their weakest points -- gates and wooden barricades. If you plan on keeping male pigs, they should be castrated if they will not be used for breeding. Boars should be kept separately from other pigs. Metal fencing options are the best for boars, as they will not bend or wear down with persistent effort. 

4. Combine fence types

Because pigs are so resourceful when it comes to finding escape routes, your best bet is to combine fences -- ideally, your fence should include electrical fencing as well as physical barriers. Thick wire fencing should be used to close in any gaps made with fence planks and posts. The wire fencing should extend down into the ground to prevent burrowing, as pigs can dig and will push wire fencing up in order to escape. Electrical lines should run just above the ground to prevent burrowing and then again halfway up the fence to prevent climbing.

Try to keep any horizontal supports on the outside of the wire to prevent pigs from using them as "ladders." Hog panels, which are found at fencing or farming stores, are also a good way to reinforce your hog pen. 

If you are having trouble keeping your pigs contained, contact a fencing professional in your area. They will be able to install a fence worthy of the most determined hog Houdini. 

Talk with fence contractors to determine which type of fence will best fit your home fencing needs.