Housing:If you have pigs outside for the winter there are things you can do to ensure they are warm and well. Insulate their house. This can be done with sheets of insulation between ply boards, or placing bales of hay around the outside of their house. We have also placed them on the top to help keep the heat in. Houses should be full of straw, a natural insulator, not hay...it breaks up easily. Try to NOT use blankets in the wintertime. They become wet and soggy from the pig going in with a wet belly and can cause problems. You will need to change/add straw often.
Placing a sack-cloth, moving blanket, rug, or similar over the entrance is a must in the winter. This can be lowered over the entrance way at night, and will prevent loss of heat or drafts. This is key to ensuring your pigs don't catch pneumonia in the winter months. Make sure the entrance is facing away from the prevailing wind. The last thing you want is for rain, sleet, or snow to blow through the doorway and into your pigs sleeping area.
We are not fans of heat lamps as there reports of fires each year. Usually with good insulation; lots of straw they will be fine. If you want something extra for really cold nights and older pigs we have used heat mats successfully here.
eNasco or QC Supply
The mats are screwed on to a sheet of ply board. That is then put on the rubber horse mat that is their floor so that they are not directly on the cold ground. We then put straw on top of the mats. The mats are plugged into a control that is needed to regulate the temperature of the mats. The highest setting we used all winter was 3. This kept their bellies warm and the chill off of their condo. Our lows were generally in the low teens.
Food and Water:Make sure that you feed well in the wintertime as food helps make body heat. We normally doubled the amount of pig chow...you can worry about a diet come springtime. Try and make the last feeding in late afternoon.
Your pig MUST have water…it doesn’t matter how cold it is outside he still needs water. Snow is NOT considered an adequate supply of water and neither is ice. A pig would have to eat a bucketful of snow to get an adequate drink and their stomach isn’t made to hold that.
Some people give warm water in the winter...we don’t because the warm water will freeze faster than plain water will. I don’t know if they just seem like they do or if they really do, but our pigs seem to drink more in the winter than they do in the summer. Could be that they just enjoy the fact that we have more work to do in the bad weather and like to watch. Heated water bowls are nice, but keep an eye on them as some pigs will still dump them.