Welcome to our Journey

Welcome to the journey of our pasture based heritage homestead in Canada. Family run and women powered. We aren’t exactly what you would call traditional farmers. Myself (Jen) am a flight medic – what got me into homesteading in Canada who knows but one thing is for sure it is my therapy after a hard week at work. There is nothing more therapeutic then sitting in a pen full of pigs asking for attention. My wife Monica stays home and takes care of everything to do with the farm. How she manages it while I’m working no one will ever know. 

Hogs & Horns Homestead was born out of a desire to know where our food comes from and has expanded as we have wanted to offer heritage meat breeds, ethically raised meat to other Albertans. We are passionate about growing, raising and preserving food. We believe that knowing where your food comes from is so important regardless of your diet choices. Ethically, sourcing food isn’t our only passion though! We are working hard to conserve heritage breeds that are struggling in Canada and some worldwide. 

At Hogs & Horns Homestead a modern day homestead in Canada there is a little bit of everything but our main focus is pigs! Join us to learn more about mini pigs, endangered heritage livestock, heritage meat and modern homesteading on the Canadian prairies. 

Mini Pig Housing

Indoor or Outdoor?

You’re planning to get a mini pig, you’ve read they should live inside the house and you’ve read that they will do okay in the great outdoors so what’s the best fit for you? Either is totally okay but there are definitely considerations to think about for each.

Living Outside

Pigs are social animals that naturally live in herds; for this reason, we suggest that if you’re planning to house your miniature pig outside that, you get a minimum of two. They can be different ages, but they should be females or fixed males. Intact males should not be housed with females or kept as pets, as they can be unpredictable and lead to unwanted pregnancies.

Mini Pigs are relatively hardy. Their outdoor housing should include a fenced area where they can explore, root and play. Shaded areas and a wallow to cool down during the summer are very important as pigs are prone to heat-related illnesses due to their inability to sweat. They need a basic shelter that protects them from the elements. Offer deep bedding with straw or hay during the winter. A heated area is an option but is not mandatory. Another benefit to housing multiples is that they will keep each other company and play with each other and cuddle to stay warm in the winter.

Living Indoors

Mini pigs can live happily in an indoor setup. There are some factors to think about when choosing to house indoors. Indoor-housed mini pigs tend to be less active and walk on smoother surfaces than the typical outdoor pig, which means they sometimes need to have their hooves trimmed throughout their lives. Pigs are more intelligent than dogs, meaning they get bored, and though they are overall animals that LOVE sleep, they need stimulating activities to keep their minds and bodies busy. If you are planning to house indoors, you start with a single pig, you become the pigs’ companion and herd, so it is unnecessary to have multiples.

Pigs can easily be house-trained and trained tricks and crate trained. To learn more about training, check out Mini Pig Training.

Basics of Mini Pig Housing

for every household

Regardless if you are housing indoors or outdoors mini pigs require the same basic care needs…

Shelter: A dry place to sleep. They prefer a well-bedded sleep area with straw or hay for outdoor pigs and dog beds and blankets for indoor pigs.

Food and Water: Pigs should have constant access to water. Mini pigs are prone to weight gain. Feeding a rationed diet two to three times a day is good practice. Learn more about Mini Pig Nutrition. 

Mini Pig Shelter
Indoor Mini Pig in Pool

Cool down Area: Pigs are not able to sweat, so their only way to cool down is to physically go to cooler areas, get in cool water and coat their skin with cool mud. Outdoor pigs should be offered a shaded area with good airflow. A shallow pool or a wallow in the ground should be offered. Either option should have cool water added regularly on hot days. Many indoor pigs will still enjoy a pool outside and shaded areas with good airflow. I would only offer a mud wallow if you can bathe your indoor pig. Cool spots in the house are also a great option.

Pig with Snuffle Mat
Miniature pig rooting in snuffle mat

Stimulation: Stimulating activities include strong toys and various rooting substrates such as dirt, straw, hay, and paper for outdoor pigs. In addition, toys and teething chews should be accessible. These can be as simple as logs or as complex as purchased toys. You can substitute rooting substrates for indoor pigs with more house-friendly options such as ball pit balls, snuffle mats, treat balls, and blankets. Yak cheese chews (nonmeat flavours) and pieces of wood are great options for teething options.

Mini Pig Housing

What is a Mini Pig?

What is a miniature pig?

Miniature pigs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, they vary in colour and even in the breed. So, what distinguishes a mini as a mini if it’s no set breed, can have a straight back or swayed back and come in any colour? Generally speaking, miniatures are a wide set of miniature breeds, including the three most well-known, the Potbelly, Juliana and the American Mini pig. Each of these breeds has a long history, unfortunately, there has been no detailed documentation or tracking of any of their bloodlines and to our knowledge, there is no genetic DNA testing for miniatures at this time. What does this mean for you? It means no breeder can accurately and honestly tell you they know exactly what breed you get. If that’s the case how can a breeder be trusted for the advertised size? Multiple-generation breeding with tracked lineages and viewings of parents, grandparents, and half or whole siblings at different ages is the best prediction of size. The caveat to this is the parents must be a minimum of two years old, to understand this reason more check out The Growth of Mini Pig.

The Three Main Breeds of Mini Pigs

The American Mini pig is originally a laboratory creation. They were created by mixing a multitude of breeds including Black Guniea Hogs, Feral boars, and the Piney Rooter of Louisiana, Vietnamese Pot-belly among others. Want to dive in deeper? Check out What is American Mini Pig? The American Mini should stand 15-20 inches tall at the shoulder, presenting an athletic build, straight back, and small upright ears.

The Vietnamese Pot-belly foundational herd was imported into Canada in the 1980s followed by several more imports of over the following 10 years. There was a Potbellied Pig registry that was active for bloodline tracking but it was dissolved in the 1990s. Since then there has been no accurate bloodline tracking resulting in virtually no purebred stock, and no guaranteed purebred stock. Potbellies vary in size from 80-300 pounds. Their prominent feature is their potbelly and swayed back.

The Juliana is a small breed light in colour with spots. The base colour can vary from silver, white, red, rust, black or cream. However, spots must be present. They are usually black but can be red or white. Spotting is profuse and random. They should have a long, lean body with a straight back. Juliana pigs should stand no taller than 17″ at the shoulder.

But I want a Micro/Teacup Pig!

Mini Pig

The terms micro, teacup and pocket pig are all terms simply used to describe the size of a miniature pig. They are not different breeds and are poor descriptions for these pigs. No pig regardless of the breed is that small full grown. As a piglet absolutely, however, pigs rapidly grow. To understand the accurate size of a full-grown miniature (micro/teacup/pocket) pig check out Mini Pig Size.

The piglet to the left is a seven-day-old miniature piglet weighing in at 7 ounces. He is now three years old and weighs 110 pounds.

The Nitty Gritty of the Large Blacks

A Heritage Pig

Large Black, They go by several names but here in Canada they are most commonly called the Large Black. This breed of swine is definitely one of my favourite breeds to raise and I am so excited to share with you about the Large Black Pig.

Large Black History

The Large Blacks are a British breed and were commonly found in Devon and Cornwall in the 1800s, thus the additional names. It is thought that the breed may have been developed in the 1800s using a mix of Chinese breeds that were imported to England. It isn’t known exactly when in the 1800s the breed began. However the breed gained popularity during the latter half of the 1800s and by the early 1900s had become quite numerous. With an Association formed in 1898. In the 1920s their popularity grew and the breed was exported to several countries one of which was the U.S. Selected for their large size and efficiency of production on pasture and forage.

Unfortunately after World War II the food industry had a huge change, as producers focused on increasing production and cutting costs. Indoor hog operations began to pop up by the 1920s. Breeds that had been hybrid to survive the rigors of the intense indoor operations were favored. This caused a decline in all heritage breed populations including the Large Black. By the 1960s they were almost extinct. Luckily the breed was kept alive and is slowly making a come back as the slow food movement and raising meat on pasture grow momentum. The Large Black is still one of the most rare British pig breeds to this day and is still threatened by extinction. They are currently listed as Endangered on the Livestock Conservancy of America.

Characteristics of the Large Black

In appearance as one might expect the Large Black breed is elegant with a large frame. They sport both solid black skin and hair. Large lop ears fall forward over their face, which impedes their sight but also protects their eyes during rooting and foraging. Having dark skin protects them from the sun allowing them to do well in open pastures. They have a long back and belly, deep and wide chest and strong straight legs. Covering their bodies are is straight black silky hair. Large Blacks should have a straight underline with at least 12 evenly spaced teats, starting well forward.

So, just how large is large you ask? From our experience they can easily tip the scales at 700+ lbs. for both females and males alike. This is a breed that is prone to obesity, which can cause a decrease in fertility and issues with cystic ovaries in the females. Size of jowls is a good indicator of how obesity in this breed. It is important to consistently monitor body condition and feed accordingly.


Of course it isn’t all about their looks! This unique breed has so much to offer in personality. Known to be one of the most docile and friendly breeds of hogs alive today. Both the boars and sows should be inherently friendly. Always use caution around boars and mothering sows but over all they are extremely docile.

Known as the dog of the pig world, these amazing creatures can learn their name and will follow their owners around. They enjoy a good scratch and some hangout time. They move slowly, which research suggests is because of their large lop ears obstructing their vision. Relying on scent and hearing to navigate their surroundings, you’ll find they “freeze” when they hear you approach as they determine if you’re friend or foe. For this reason it is always a good idea to speak to them as you arrive in their pen.

Can They Handle Our Canadian Climate?

Of course in Canada, raising heritage swine we have a couple things we need to take into consideration. How are they in the hot summer and how are they in the brutal cold? What kind of food do they do best on? What set up do they need? The Large Black is extremely hardy and handles the Canadian prairie winters quite well. Always offer shelter from the elements and provide them with deep bedding. They will cuddle together to stay warm throughout the cold winter nights. In the summer they require LOTS of water to both wallow and drink. They can overheat quite quickly during the hottest times of summer and need a large wallow to cool off and shade to rest in. 

Large Blacks are a true heritage breed with strong foraging and grazing qualities. It is said that a full grown sow can live almost entirely off of foraging and grazing. Suppling a good pasture of legumes and young growing vegetation helps achieve this. We are extremely excited to learn more about raising with mostly pasture. A young grower is said to be able to be raised on 50% quality pasture. Their remaining feed is supplemented with grains. This ability to forage is fantastic for the self sufficient homesteader a a better end product pork. They are relatively easy on pastures for their size and are easily trained to electric fences. They have fantastic maternal qualities and are able to raise and wean large litters in a pasture setup.

Conservation of the Large Black

This amazing breed was nearly lost in the 1960s. In the name of mass production in commercial barns this foraging and grazing pig simply could not handle a life in these operations. They fell out of favour for this reason and their numbers are still rapidly declining. In more recent years there have been several efforts to bring this unique heritage breed back from near extinction. Their numbers are still quite low worldwide and they are classified as endangered with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. You can learn more about the numbers of tracked breeders through both the Large Black Association and the Livestock Conservancy.  

The slow food movement and the increasing interest for raising pigs naturally has helped to bring this pig back into favour and we hope to see this momentum continue. Hogs & Horns Homestead conservation efforts of this breed go beyond ethical breeding. We believe through education and increased awareness we may see more small holders choose to breed the Large Blacks and are hopeful their numbers will continue to increase to a stable level. Check out our sounder HERE!

Large Blacks a Food Source

Of course, we raise pasture pigs for all they produce! So, what sets them apart? Why choose the Large Black pig? The meat is exceptional, filled with an old world flavour, truly succulent pork on the grill. The Large Black is a “bacon” breed – a breed bred for it’s long back and belly with a higher meat to fat ratio than your “lard” breeds. The Large Black boasts a darker colour in meat, though this will vary with the diet you provide. The pork is lean with micro marbling throughout. This breed offers fantastic bacon and is a great choice if you are looking for more of your traditional cuts with the enhanced flavour of the past.

They can reach butcher weight of 200-250 lbs. in 8-12 months depending on the feed you provide. This is a relatively fast grower for a heritage breed and is a great beginner meat pig.

In Conclusion

The Large Black pigs are my favourite, go to breed for a homestead meat pig. Their docility and friendliness is remarkable. Paired with their foraging and grazing ability that lend to the goal of self-sustainability so many of us have. Offering a larger carcass weight in a reasonable amount of time. Being a “bacon” breed they have reasonable meat to fat ratio, while still providing that delicious old world flavour we are all after! A truly remarkable breed, one worth saving!

January Is Pig Month!

What Is Pig Month?

January is pig month with Heritage Livestock Canada. Which I’m pretty pumped about, considering pigs is our passion! This organization is one reason we have been able to learn so much about the endangered breeds of Canada and get us all the more excited to work to save them. Donations and memberships support them. As part of our conservation efforts, Hogs and Horns Homestead will donate 1% of all our meat sales to Heritage Livestock Canada.
large black boar
Our Large Black Boar – Raven – He Was Rather Excited About The Selfie

Why Have Cross-breed Pigs?

Some may wonder why Hogs & Horns Homestead has crossed breeds in our pig herds if we are so set on conservation and keeping bloodline tracking, and that’s fair. We started our herds with crosses because it was challenging to find and expensive to get purebreds. For our pure Large Black pigs, specifically, we ended up having to ship them across the country. There is simply a minimal number of them left in Canada. For this reason, we began with crosses. So why did we continue? We continue to have some crosses in our herd as they offer characteristics of our heritage breeds’ meat profiles. In contrast, we continue to work to increase our bloodlines and herds of these magnificent endangered breeds.

Our Crosses

What crosses do we have? Our main cross all started with Ginger, our lead sow, the girl that started it all. A 3-year old Kunekune x Large Black this girl is 600 lbs. Of awesomeness. An amazing mother to her piglets and offspring with an impressive grow out. We are excited to recreate this cross this year as we work to find another available bloodline of Large Black’s to breed back to our girls.
Large Black x Kunekune Sow - Hogs & Horns Homestead
Ginger lead Kunekune x Large Black Sow

What Is A Kunekune?

Kunekunes are a lard pig that originates from New Zealand and was near extinction. There have been significant efforts since the 1970’s to restore their numbers through bloodline tracking and registration. They are incredibly friendly and have a smaller stature than most meat breeds, with a short snout that decreases routing. These guys do well on pasture and eat an increased amount of alfalfa hay compared to their other heritage swine cousins. Kunekune pigs offer marbled, succulent pork.
kunekune breeding boar odin
Our Breeding Boar Odin

What Is A Large Black?

Large Black’s however, are large with an average weight of 600 to 800 lbs. These large swine are just as their name depicts large in stature and all black. With large ears, we call them the hippos of the farm. A longer snout lends them well to root. Their big floppy ears help to protect their eyes while they root. They are also very friendly and love nothing more than belly scratches. They can have up to 50% of their diet on high-quality pasture. The other 50% contains high-quality grains.
Koko the large black sow
Our Large Black Sow Koko, Cuddled Up Loving All the Belly Rubs

Our Large Cross-breed Pigs?

They weigh in at 500-600 lbs and look like an oversized kunekune. This cross has a slightly longer snout than a kunekune and large upright ears. Lazy at rooting but thrive on pasture, with up to 50% of their diet being pasture-based combined with 50% high-quality grains.
Kunekune x Large Black Boars
Large Black x Kunekune boys

Building A Purebred Herd

Building herds of purebreds takes time, mainly when the numbers and bloodlines available are limited to start. We are working hard to grow our purebred herds, to expand the numbers of endangered breeds. In conclusion, saving breeds takes time; it takes farms working together; it takes you. If you are a farmer, it takes you to decide to continue biodiversity over capital gain. If you are not a farmer, it takes you to decide to support biodiversity to live sustainably.
We are so excited to offer heritage meat this season and look forward to building more relationships with clients and fellow farmers alike.

The Ossabaw Island Hog

What is an Ossabaw Island Hog?

The Ossabaw Island Hog is critically endangered. It is one of the breeds at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute. The Ossabaw has Spanish ancestry. Over time domesticated animals would escape and become feral, mixing genetics with local breeds. However, animals on Ossabaw Island were isolated and therefore maintained their original genetics.

For this reason, Ossabaw Island Hogs present very similarly to the Spanish Iberian Hog. These aren’t a large breed of pig and fall under a small breed category. In the wild, males can get to 200 pounds, and females are 100-150 pounds. However, we have found that both genders average 200-250 pounds in captivity.


Ossabaw Island Hog Sow

The Snout

on an Ossabaw is VERY long. The day we got our Ossabaw, they reminded us of oversized hedgehogs. With these snouts – they’re rooting machines! If you have a rock pile or garden needing to be cleared, hire these guys. When we clean up our garden at the end of the year, we lead these guys to turn the garden. They continue rooting the soil in the winter and searching for any missed, delicious roots. Once spring has rolled around, we rake our soil flat and plant our veggies.

Their Coats

are exceptionally thick and come in various colours, including black, red, tan, and black and white spotted.

The Body Shape

 of an Ossabaw is short-backed and leggy. The Olympic athletes of the pig world. They can run impressively fast and jump four feet fences without a second thought. Built for survival in the wild, the Ossabaw Island Hog is very hardy. Their shoulders are more prominent than their hips, similar to wild boars’. Understanding proper housing for this breed is essential before adding them to your farm. 

Ossabaw Island Hog Piglets

Their appearance is wild looking. Many people who see our Ossabaw Island Hogs assume they’re wild boars or crosses, and though this is not true, they have similar appearances. They sport a wide array of colours and combinations. They may look like wild boars but don’t have the same temperament. When socialized with regularly they are incredibly friendly. The Ossabaw is agile, curious, and friendly. They’re brilliant and must be in pens that accommodate an active mind and body. They are very vocal. The vocal pitches they’re capable of hitting make us laugh every time. They make more extended, higher-pitch notes that sound like a pig attempting the opera. We enjoy their high-pitched singing noises as they vocalize their stories to us.


In their natural habitat, Ossabaw Island Hogs eat roots and tubers constitute the main food items taken in winter, whereas leeches, earthworms, insects and fiddler crabs make up a greater portion of the diet in spring and summer. Here at Hogs & Horns Homestead, they are fed a vegetarian diet consisting of a custom soy-free grain ration. They are also offered hay and veggies along with the ability to forage in their pens.

Our herd is offered free-choice hay and straw along with their grains. Offering them high-quality hay and straw in the winter months ensures that they’re getting their daily fibre. This also gives them a choice to snack here and there in between meals.

Fun Fact!

Ossabaw Island Hogs are unique in that as an adaption to the food cycle of the island with spare food in the spring season they developed a biochemical system of fat metabolism, which allows them to store a larger proportion of fat than any other hog. With this, they have a form of low-grade, non-insulin-dependent diabetes.

Ossabaw Island Hog Pork

Ossabaw Island Hog Pork Chops

Ossabaw pork is flavour-packed. Their meat is said to be higher in Omega 3 and has a dark red colour. The Ossabaw Island Hog has a significantly increased level of fat. However, their fat is exceptionally soft and melts at a lower temperature than many other swine breeds. Cook Ossabaw Island Hog pork low and slow and enjoy the meat and fat bite for bite. They are known as some of the best pork in the world.

Have any questions about the Ossabaw Island Hog? Feel free to ask us!

How Do I Raise & Contain That? – Pig Edition

Around the farm, we regularly have at least one animal which tests a setup. Be it fencing, their housing, the inability to share, or gets stuck in a way you didn’t anticipate. While visiting other pasture pig farms to see their set-ups, many farmers always complained about how hard it was to house pigs. Pointed out horror stories of great escapes and moved away from raising pigs because of how destructive they were. Yes, pigs are destructive. They’re such an intelligent animal that overcrowding, lack of stimulation, or “make-shift” set-ups will soon become their new challenge. In all honesty, we have found goats to have the most issues out of our livestock. On our farm, we have had or currently have MANY different species, and I’ll point out the good, the bad, and how we have come to fix common issues that maybe you’ve faced or are still facing.


They’re incredibly smart; need I say more? With pigs, they need to stay well-fed, well housed, entertained, and have ample space to explore and root. If you throw up a make-shift fence with a leaning house – they’re going to leave. We have tried tin covered huts, solid wood buildings, and access to the barn. All while being provided ample space outdoors. A solid wood building is going to need repair. ESPECIALLY if you have a boar roaming with your ladies. Boars are notorious for sauntering over to your freshly built project and sampling the side of that building with their forceful chompers. Females and piglets are just as curious and can definitely do some wear and tear here. Some pigs’ breeds are better than others; however, when winter calls, pigs can become crabby. We’ve tried solid fencing (Wood, metal) as well as electric lines. We have discovered what works best to house pigs from all our trials and errors across the board. Hog panels are the number one option. They are designed for this reason, and if the pig feels like chewing or scratching on them, there won’t be any drastic damages. They’re easy to affix anywhere and, with T-posts, can create movable pens. Wood fences are great if you have them braced, and they’re thick. If they’re thinner boards – your 600 lb pig will scratch it’s behind on it once and come crashing through.
electric line
2 strands of electric line only 20 inches high to contain two 400 lb boars
With our pigs, we use an electric line. 1 to 2 strands of electric that we can easily step over when we’re doing chores. Did our pigs instantly respect the electric line? No. No, they did not. When training our pigs we started young. Trying to train an older pig takes far longer, and the prey response engaged with a scared 300 lb pig creates a lot more damage than a 30 lb torpedo. Having a solid pen that you can house your new weaned piglets in works best. Attaching insulator clips along the fence at neck height allows the line to contact them when they investigate the survey tape dangling from it. They get a zap, then frantically run around and hide away from the new evil that they have just discovered. It only takes a couple of touches with piglets, and they learn what that red and white string holds. We leave the electric line up in their pen for 2 weeks before moving them to a pasture with just electric lines. In doing so, they’re trained, and it becomes more of a mental thing as they’re older. They’ll see the line and avoid it – even if it’s turned off half the time.
If you get an older pig and want to train it to electric, keep those fences sturdy. Unlike piglets, they will enter prey mode as well as “I’m going to fight.” With this, there are lots of lunging and climbing attempts. Be prepared to unplug the electric and do this in small doses to avoid injuries to your new pig. Since pigs are a herd animal, it’s unwise to have a pig alone – ESPECIALLY when training to an electric line. They have no reassurance and panic a lot more. We have various sized pigs, and they all respect and understand what an electric line is. Our 50 lb mini pigs steer clear of it; however, be prepared to trim under the line so it doesn’t short out in the months of heavy grass growth or snowfall. (Mini pigs can’t help that they only stand a foot off the ground!) Our largest pigs are 1000 lbs, and even those don’t double guess an electric line.


There’s a variety of housing that works for pigs. There’s also some big no-no’s we have learned with certain pigs. Pigs LOVE to scratch themselves on the sides of everything. Even if your pigs have been freshly coconut oiled and have zero issues with mites, lice, or mange – they will itch on great corners. To minimize damage to your housing, install some industrial push broom ends onto fence posts. They will walk over and get a good scratch going on there, instead of your housing. Don’t use sharp edges or tin! This mistake will end with either a pig injured from playfully throwing one around or from scratching wrong. The tin is sharp, and even though their skin is thick – this is some unneeded disinfecting time from injuries. Depending on the pig, we use wood huts. We know that they will need repairs, but we prefer this method over the barn or other available options. We build our huts in the shape of a triangle. They have no bottoms and are just tall enough for the pigs to get in and out of, with an open front concept. Throwing in deep bedding of straw/hay allows the pigs to create a warm nest and stay dry throughout the colder months. No bottom on the house means you won’t have to worry if you have a messy pig that doesn’t want to do its business in the cold.
We first started by offering a huge barn stall to our pigs. While the thought was nice – the practicality wasn’t. It was hard to feed them when there was a line of worked up pigs screaming for supper. Walking through them to fill their feeder meant the odd bossy pig swiping at the bucket and potentially getting you. The other issue was too much space results in them sleeping in one corner and doing their business in the other. Since pigs are incredibly clean, it’s a lot nicer to shrink their area, so it forces them to go outside. We have found, so long as you have JUST enough space for every pig to sleep like little sardines together, they won’t soil inside. The other pigs won’t allow it. Pigs sleep in a pile by nature, so creating a shelter just big enough for them will solve the soiling problems. The smaller shelter will also increase how warm it is for them. Our triangle huts have steam rolling off them even in the coldest months, where temperatures drop below -35 degrees Celcius.
In the summer, your pigs will need a wallow. Pigs need the means to cool themselves down since they don’t sweat. To do this, they need a cool spot to wallow in mud and cool off. You can easily lose your pig if it has no way to cool down in the hot summer months. It takes some serious work to get a wallow started, but pigs are only too eager to help build one!
Our 600 lb Sow Ginger, Climbing into Her Freshly Filled Wallow


We have farrowed our pigs in a variety of ways. During our first litters, we always provided a spot in the barn fence lining other pigs. This allowed her to create her nest and have her own space in the farrowing process. This was great because the risk of other pigs laying on babies was eliminated, but the sow sometimes suffered slight loneliness. Depending on the sow, some do better with the comfort of their pen mates. Separating her, sometimes she gets crabby and stressed about having ONLY her piglets. We always offered a safe place with a heat lamp and ensured every piglet knew where that was. This method works but be prepared for the integration when you need to put your sow back in with its herd. There will be fighting, and she will need to figure out where she stands with the herd.
Pasture farrowing we have liked the most. We have found this is less stress on the sows as they’re still in with the herd and the piglets learn the herd dynamic much quicker. The risk is litters born at different times. There’s a risk that older piglets could lay on younger piglets. There is a risk of other pigs accidentally stepping or laying on newborns, and some older piglets could definitely drink the newborn piglets’ colostrum milk that they desperately needed. There are definitely many risks here, but with certain breeds we have – none of this happened. This is VERY breed dependent, and there still are some breeds that we separate, but those are mostly the smaller breeds. The last 2 litters we had went better than expected. Both moms farrowed a day apart. Piglets bounce from one mom to the next. Other pigs in the herd tend to them and carefully tiptoe around them. Out of both litters, only one piglet was lost to being laid on, and that pen had over 6 full-sized pigs (one being a boar) in with them. Some sows don’t want to share their space with other pigs as soon as they’re a mom. They get overly aggressive and will fight every pig for even looking at their piglet. So be prepared for this if you’re trying group farrowing. However, we did enjoy not needing a heat lamp since even in the dead of winter, both moms slept belly to belly and kept the babies toasty warm!


Pigs like to eat—a lot. No, we have never had a pig take off into the distance. Why? We feed our pigs and make their home desirable. Pigs escaping and jumping ship can be as simple as poor diet and mistreatment. Depending on the breed of pig, their diet can be more pasture-based or grain-based. More commercialized breeds haven’t been developed to strive on pasture; they’ve been created for confined systems and free flow grains. If we free flowed grains to our Large Black pigs – they’d look like hippos. Our Ossabaws are by far the best at rationing when offered grain. They’ll only eat what they want and then run off to forage on grass and bugs elsewhere. The large black will eat and sleep to the point where I’m sure they’re legs would disappear. Mini pigs have huge issues with weight gain and cannot free flow on grains. Certain breeds can graze and get most of their nutrition and diet off of pasture. Such as the Kunekune. It’s a true pasture pig and needs minimal supplementation with grains. The large blacks we have are offered pasture in the warmer months, making up a good 30% of their diet.
If you’re considering a pig and want to know the best mix to feed it, definitely ask us as we have different diet programs for each breed we raise! Cheaping out on grains with certain pigs will cost you in the end. Vet bills from a pig with poor nutrition will end up costing you more than those cleaned grains that cost slightly more. End of the day, you’re eating that animal, and wouldn’t you like to know what they’re eating too? Offering hay in the winter months as free choice means they’re always getting the fiber they need as well as filler when they’re snack-ish between meals.
Pigs need access to fresh water. Every day their waterer/dish should be cleaned and refilled with fresh drinking water. Algae and molds are lethal/dangerous to pigs. Their growth is also much better if they always have access to fresh water. If pigs aren’t drinking ample amounts of water, this can make illnesses hard to combat without proper hydration in the first place. When offered fresh, cold water to day-old warm water that they’ve dipped their dirty noses into – they will always choose fresh.
kunekune breeding boar
Breakfast time with high quality hay, custom mixed grains and some starter for the piglets!


Should you vaccinate or not? If our pigs are being used for breeding, we vaccinate them. If they’re growers for meat purposes, we give them the basic requirements to keep them healthy and happy. Dewormer is a must when you have pasture pigs since they’re not in controlled environments. Pastured pigs can get their iron requirements by rooting around in the dirt, but it doesn’t hurt to give them that shot shortly after birth, so they have optimal growth. All of our mature pigs get routine vaccinations purely because we want to offer them the best protection there is available. We have had heartaches by simply being naive, thinking our pigs in their seclusion on our farm – would never get sick.
Pigs are SENSITIVE! Think of your pigs like toddlers. Now picture your pens full of pigs like daycare. If one pig doesn’t feel good, chances are the rest are catching it. Pigs sleep like sardines and have no “bubbles” for personal space. Their snouts are constantly on the ground rooting around, and since they’re pasture pigs, there’s always a risk! Erysipelas lives in the soil. It is easily transmittable, and it can be as simple as a bird bringing it to your property. Once you start seeing spots on your pig, there could have already been irreversible damage occurring. This is easily avoided with a vaccine. This is why we use Erbac. It vaccinates against an array of common infections.
We purchased a breeding boar in the past, which ended up having dippity pig syndrome. We had been pre-warned of what it could be when we brought him home but went ahead with the purchase. He would scream in the corner in pain, and we felt awful watching a piglet this way. All we could do is offer him ample amounts of water and give him pain killers until the bout went away. It has never flared up again, but it was still not fun to watch. He spent ample time in the sun as a piglet, and from this combined with bad luck, dippity flared up.
Pigs can get STI’s. Yes, your hairy friend needs to practice safe sex. Otherwise, if you’re using that same boar amongst various ladies, then it’ll spread fast. Then spread to their piglets and so on. We vaccinate mostly against Chlamydia. This is the most common STI in swine, and we make sure our breeders are safe from this.
We also deworm regularly. We give it in the form of a shot to pigs that we are capable of injecting. Some pigs are too difficult and big to wrestle down. If you don’t have a chute system because you raise pastured pork or aren’t experienced for this and want to avoid a vet for shots – use orally. It works, and the only difference is instead of two shots 21 days apart, it’s two shots 2 weeks apart. For some of our larger pigs, we mix IVERMECTIN in a yogurt solution and offer it to one pig at a time to mask the taste. It works great, and our pigs are healthier because of it. Avoiding dewormers means your pig can get Sarcoptic mange and start contracting secondary infections due to a compromised immune system. This, in turn, makes it harder for your pig to fight off an illness. Once a pig starts to decline, it can be difficult to get a full recovery.
cute pink American mini piglet
This little girl was brought inside for vaccines and was dramatic and vocal about the whole encounter!

Adding New Pigs To Your Herd

Quarantine! Let me repeat, quarantine. This doesn’t mean a pen beside your other pigs. A pig will rub noses, and if that new pig has an illness or your pigs have something, they’re getting it. Careful of your clothing and footwear. You will easily string around any infections simply by walking through each pen and into the other pens. So make sure you’re not walking through pens, and if you have to, are disinfecting or changing your clothing/footwear in between. We quarantine our new arrivals away from our herd for at least a month. Once a month has lapsed with no issues, then we place them on a fence line for introductions to their new herd members for at least 2 weeks to a month, depending on how they’re all acting.
We find getting pigs in groups works better than single pigs. This way, there’s less stress for them in this new environment with new faces. They adjust way quicker, and during the 2 months of quarantine/introductions, it’s easier on them. It also provides one another with comfort when the herd doesn’t accept them for weeks. When they’re separated from the herd, this allows you to give any vaccines to them if they’re being used as permanent breeders. It also allows for more bonding time, so they know who you are.
large black boar friendly
Raven in quarantine. Safe to say his transition onto our farm was a success!

Interactions and Stimulation

Since pigs are so smart, they need stimulation and need to know who you are! In the beginning, it can be a little overwhelming if you have a 60 lb freshly weaned pig “texture sampling” your leg. They’re not aggressive, they’re simply interested in this new piece of fabric and wanting to feel it. That bite – will hurt. Even when they do not intend to chomp on your knee, they still need to be corrected. A firm no and push on the nose usually suffice at a young age. Teaching them to respect you at a young age means that they’re less inclined to push you around when they’re older and FAR larger. Pigs learn violence. If you hit or mistreat them, they will remember what happened and who did it. We have pigs here that we have gotten from some pretty sad situations, and have some triggers. Those same pigs also have learned how to trust us, knowing they’re not going to face any form of abuse here.
Provide toys! A horse treats ball works great to keep a pig mentally stimulated. I offer logs for them to roll around, push broom bum scratchers, attention daily, and all the yard clean up available. A big pile of leaves and a log can keep a pig highly entertained for hours. If your pig has a sad, dry coat, feed it some coconut oil and vitamin E. Offering this for several weeks will add some shine to that coat and have them looking like a show pig in no time!
indoor pig
That smile on his face was because of “no more weeks of winter”.
Feel free to ask any questions! I’m sure that there is a lot more I could have added to this blog. So don’t be shy!

Mini Pig Size

So, what exactly is a mini pig? Genetically speaking, the bloodlines are pretty muddled, and the documenting poor. Most of the mini pigs are a combination of several different breeds. The three “breeds” widely accepted as “mini” are the Potbelly, the American Mini, and Juliana. There is some difference between the mini’s characteristics. For example, potbellies tend to have a more swayed back, whereas an American Mini tends to be petite, with a long snout, straight back, and a bit of a wild look. In contrast, Juliana’s has a description much like an American Mini. However, they have stricter colouring requirements (light-coloured with spots in no particular pattern over the body). 

Mini Piglet

People commonly state that our pigs are “big for a mini.” So, let’s talk about overall size. Typically to refer to a pig as a “mini,” they should be less than 21 inches at the shoulder when full-grown. Their weight is typically between 70-150 pounds, but technically, most sites would say a pig 350 pounds and under are miniature pigs. At Hogs & Horns Homestead, we classify miniature as under 200 pounds with a goal weight of under 100 pounds.

Additionally, we categorize breeds such as the Ossabaw island Hog, Meishan and Kunekune as midsized pigs weighing 250-450 pounds full grown. However, basing overall size on weight is only sometimes the best practice when picking out your pig, as they may be overweight or underweight. The best measurement to gauge overall size is their shoulder height and body length. If you are purchasing a full-grown pig, then the height of its shoulder should stay the same. If you are buying a piglet, look at the parents’ shoulder heights and confirm that the parents are a minimum of 2 years old. Fun fact: pigs grow until they are 5, most of their skeletal growth happens in the first two years, but they are not fully mature until five.

Unfortunately, mini pigs have got a bad rap due to poor advertising techniques and scammers. As a result, many believe they do not exist, while others think they’re very tiny. Mini is “a thing that is much smaller than normal, especially a small replica or model.” Miniature pigs may not fit in a teacup or be 8 pounds like a mini dog. Still, they exist and are small compared to their “normal” counterparts. Using dogs as an example, Miniature dogs are approximately 1/10 the size of “normal” dogs. I.e. a mini poodle may weigh around 8 pounds, whereas a standard poodle could weigh in at 70-80 pounds. A meat-breed pig can easily weigh between 700-1000 pounds full-grown. With this in mind, 150 pounds is small for a pig!

Mini Pig

Keep learning! Check out these resources for descriptions and examples of mini pig sizes.

Hogs and Horns Homestead Mini Pigs

Working To Be Less Wasteful

Almost exactly a year ago, we became part of a local program. The premise of the program is great! Food that is expiring and/or has damage is given to farms instead of thrown into landfills. This food’s purpose is to supplement the feed of all sorts of farm animals. Unfortunately, there is now a threat of African swine fever entering Canadian swine herds on imported food. Due to this, we chose to only feed local feeds to our animals. 
However, through this experience, we came to realize several points. 
• Humans waste an enormous amount of food. Any food shortages experienced in the developed world are from our complete lack of responsibility. If we only created as much food as needed for one set period of time, we would have less waste. 
• There is a ridiculous amount of unnecessary packaging and plastic used in the food industry. We are still trying to catch up with the overwhelming amount of garbage that came with all the expired food!!! 
We are now hyper-conscious when we buy foods with an inappropriate amount of packaging. Since many products have so much better packaging options, we decide each time at the counter. We both love to bake and cook. Why are we buying prebaked, packaged goods when we could make them fresh? This would offer us fresh items with no packaging for a fraction of the cost. Since making this decision, we have a fraction of the garbage we used to create. It has forced us to eat healthier and truly allows us to appreciate what we are consuming. We know all the ingredients we’re consuming and only make what we will be consuming. With the work we put in, it’s a shame to waste it.  
Is packaging something you consider when shopping for food? 

Our Homesteading Journey

Raising animals for consumption is rewarding and difficult. You work your hardest to make sure they have a comfortable life with enrichment activities, good health, and tasty food. You get to watch these beautiful creatures grow and change. Then you are faced at the end with letting them go and taking their life. I heard one time from a fellow homesteader that something must die for anything to survive, be that a plant or animal or insects. It is simply a fact of life. I appreciate how simple this outlook is. You want to live; you must be inherently willing to take life from something. Now the only question is, what is the most respectful way to undertake this? 
I was hard set that on-farm slaughter was the only humane thing to do. No stress of transport, they pass on in the comfort of their home. In some ways, I still feel this is the most humane way. Unfortunately, in Alberta, offering meat slaughtered on farm to the public isn’t as straight forward as meat slaughtered in an inspected facility. Our current laws allow for on-farm dispatching and processing of an animal for sale to the public. The limitation is that the entire animal must go to a single household. To stick to our beliefs the best we can and still offer heritage meat to you, we have decided for our 2021 season to offer our smaller animals uninspected with on-farm dispatch and processing. For our larger animals, we will be offering their meat inspected and sold by the package. If you have any questions or would like to be adding to our email list, PM us! 

Our 3 year old Kunekune x Large Black Sow – Ginger