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How To Build an Inexpensive Pig Shelter

Let’s be real for a few moments. Can we? Because I’m going to come clean on something.

When we brought the pigs home last May, I had good intentions on creating a separate space for Churchill, our boar. Because one boar with four gilts will eventually lead to…well, you know. But those good intentions are about as worthless as wishes in an empty hand if you don’t do something with them. And guess what? It’s now December and I’m pretty sure we’ve got two pregnant pigs.

But alas! Churchill is finally getting his own bachelor pad.

The paddock we moved Churchill to is right next to where the girls are, but it was an open pad without a shelter, so we had to build him one. It only took a couple afternoons to get it finished (so why did it take until December to get it done…right?). With it being the Christmas season, I didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg building it, so I bought lumber for the frame (around $20) and used what I could find around the farm for the rest.

Pigs don’t require much when it comes to shelter, but they will need a dry place to go to stay out of inclement weather, mainly the intense heat of summer sunlight and harsh winter wind. It should be closed on three sides (we point the open side to the south) and it should be big enough for your pig to move around comfortably. Outside of these things, how you build your shelter is limited only by your imagination, space and materials on hand.

Since we will most likely keep a boar from our spring litter, I wanted to make a shelter big enough for two pigs. I’ve been told that you should allow 25 square feet for one pig and 10 square feet for each additional. So I built ours to be 36 square feet – plenty of space for Churchill and a future buddy.

I started with the frame.

For the right side, I found a sheet of 3/4 inch plywood that had been used to cover the old cisterns underneath our house when we first bought the property. We closed the cisterns up when we framed in a new bathroom downstairs, but I kept the plywood.

For the left, I used an old piece of OSB I found in our defunct poultry barn. These were cut with my circular saw to the right angle and then attached to the sides with 3″ exterior screws.

Once everything was moved to the pen, I screwed the frame pieces together. I cut a 2×4 to 6 feet and attached it on the inside face of the front posts, flush with the top. I then found an old 2×6 board and also cut it to 6 feet. I used this as a header board, attaching it to the outside face of the front posts, flush with the top.

To make joists for the roof, I cut three 2x4s to 6 feet in length. The first joist was placed 24 inches down from the top of the angle braces, so that its outer edge was flush with the header board. The second joist was placed another 36 inched down from that, and then the last so that the outer edge was flush with the outer face of the rear posts.

Metal sheathing is plentiful on our farm. There are piles of it leftover from decades ago behind the corn crib, as well as used on the rooftops of several derelict sheds that are no longer functional. So it made sense to re-purpose some of this on Churchill’s shelter.

I used three sheets that were 8 feet long and roughly 36 inches wide. Some straightening was needed, and I made sure there were no sharp edges (pigs are curious and will cut themselves). I attached these to the 2×4 joists with 1 1/4 inch truss screws, overlapping them by a couple inches.

Moving Churchill over was easier than I had thought it would be. I lifted one of the hog panels and in he went. He really is a curious pig. Once he figured out he had that whole pad to explore he went right to it without any hesitation, rooting through the straw and leaves, grabbing every stick he could find and shaking his head like a playful dog. And the girls certainly don’t seem to mind him being gone either.

I should note that right after building the shelter it rained over an inch with 30 mpg gusts of wind. Going out to check on Churchill, I found him warm and cozy inside.

Next project…splitting the girls and building farrowing stalls. I don’t think we’re far away from baby piglets. Pigs don’t procrastinate like humans do.

Be well.

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