Building a better hog house

On December 13, 2012 by Shawn

For the last ten months or so, our two Yorkshire hogs had been living on an acre pasture, after they ceremoniously defeated our neglected garden earlier in the year. Since then, we’ve butchered one and the other got lonely so she escaped under some field fence to go play with the donkeys.

We originally put them in a quarter of the acre plot, held in with only 4 strands of barbed wire and some electric fencing that I could never get to work because we have sandy soil and the grounding never worked. We knew it was a gamble, but it was our first year with hogs so we were experimenting. They told us not to just used barbed wire and electric wire. They told us that hogs will bust through just about anything. We didn’t listen, but that’s a re-occurring theme with me, as I’m sure you’ll see.

So yesterday, I gathered up some pallets I collected from a friend (and scavenged) to build a real hog pen that would be cheap, sturdy, and functional.

This sketch shows my initial plan. I measured the length of each pallet and figured out how I was going to fit each one together to make the closest thing to a 10×20 pen. See, all pallets aren’t created equal, and when they’re free, you have to take what you can get. I used the pallets I used last year for my small hog house and made that the one end, while I knew I’d still have to create three more walls and a gate. The entire pen would be created with only pallets and 5 and 6 foot t-posts to hold each pallet in place. I also used a post pounder and a t-post puller, mainly to remove the posts I had set up from the old pen, but also to pull out posts when I put them in the wrong spot.

I started by placing the first pallet exactly where I wanted it, marking where the t-posts will go with small pieces of cement block I had within reach. Then I’d move the pallet out of the way and pound the t-posts in with a post pounder. The pallets easily slide over the top of the t-posts, making each piece of the wall very secure. Last year the hogs would put all of their weight against these walls to scratch themselves and they never came close to falling over.

I repeated this all the way around and connected the whole thing on the opposite corner. As you can see from my sketch, the measurements aren’t exact because of the differing pallet sizes, but I got it as close as I could with what I had, so one wall is 11 inches shorter than the other; not really a huge deal to me.

On the left side, the gate is nothing more than a 38×36 lightweight pallet that can be lifted off the shorter t-posts for entrance or exit. In fact, any of the smaller pallets can be lifted to make a gate. I plan to utilize that fact when I expand by making another pen coming off of this one. It’s a completely modular design that is easily changed or even moved with multiple possibilities for gates. Plus, I can easily add barbed wire to the top of the shorter pallets with t-post clips. Hopefully the hogs will never jump over 36 inches, though.

If you have any questions about the design or the process, let me know in the comments or our contact form. I’d be happy to go over anything in more detail.

Now to move that hog into her new home…

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