Four piglets joined the farm family in early June.
There are two big changes we made with our pigs this time around. The first was training them to an electric wire. You see, pigs love digging in dirt, and eating roots. This behavior is good for them! I like it when pigs can act like pigs.
By teaching them to stay inside an electric fence, we can add more pasture to their pen without investing in more hog panels. It was an inexpensive way to raise healthier animals.
Electric fence training was easy. My step-dad helped me string a wire at snout level all the way around our existing paneled pig pen. Once we turned on the fencer, it took only a few hours for the pigs to learn to stay away from the wire. They learned very quickly!
An Automatic Waterer
Our second planned changed wasn’t as simple. I wanted the pigs to use an automatic waterer.
While I don’t mind dragging out the hose or buckets to water multiple times a day, the pigs kept getting their water filthy. They would roll in it, and no matter how frequently I changed it, it just looked dirty.
Since we’ll be eating these animals, I didn’t want them to drink filth.
We also had a weekend trip planned. My sister was going to check and care for the animals once a day, but I didn’t want her to drop by twice a day.
So, I ordered a waterer from Amazon. Here’s the one I got (aff. link):
The concept is simple. You install the waterer where it’s accessible to the piglets. Then you attach a hose.
Of course, attaching a hose required some adapters, since this particular model was designed to attach with water pipe. But, we got that all fixed. (Thanks Steve!)
Once it’s ready, the pigs push on the yellow lever and water comes out.
I know pigs are smart, so I figured it’d be simple for them to figure out.
I was wrong!
After my husband installed the waterer, I was eager to test it out. I filled it up and watched the pigs run over. While they were there, I pushed on the yellow part a few times.
They watched the water come out, timidly. The noise sort of scared them at first.
I took out their other water, to encourage them to use the waterer. Except, they didn’t. Even though I knew they were thirsty, they didn’t seem to understand how to use the waterer.
So I sent the kids out frequently to push the yellow piece and fill up the little reservoir several times an hour.
The Simple Solution
After two days of this, I was concerned. Our trip was approaching, and I knew it wouldn’t work if the pigs didn’t learn to use the waterer. So I turned to my friend, Google.
On the forum, Homesteading Today, I ran across a post that said to put peanut butter on the lever.
Not sure if it’d work, I grabbed the peanut butter and headed outside. I smeared a good dab of creamy peanut butter all over the yellow piece. The pigs were definitely interested in the peanut butter!
And as they worked at licking it off, it happened. One of the piglets pushed the yellow piece hard enough that water squirted out. They all jumped back at first, but were quickly back trying again.
Each pig got a nice long drink. I applied peanut butter again, just to help the lesson stick.
It worked! Now when we check on the pigs, there is always water in the reservoir. What a relief! We went out our trip, and all the animals remained hydrated and fed. (Thanks again Mindy & Drew!)
So if you have piglets that won’t use their automatic waterer, give peanut butter a try. It worked for us.