Why do we Keep our Pigs in a Barn?

I get asked often why my Farmer chooses to raise our hogs inside climate, controlled hog barns.  There is plenty of people raising hogs who choose to keep their animals outside.  They say it’s better for the hogs.  While I choose not to debate how anyone wants to raise their livestock, I do educate people on why I raise our hogs in barns.

Last year, Indiana’s winter was one of the worst ones I can remember.  It started snowing in December and didn’t seem to quit until March.  One particular blizzard left our hog barn buried in snow. When I took this picture, there were already 9 inches of snow on the ground.

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During this storm, the actual temperature outside was miserable.

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The house was getting colder by the minute as our own power was out.

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And while the house would eventually get down to 50 degrees before the power came back on, the hog barns were warm.  They run on generators. So while we were literally freezing in the house, the barns were warm.  And the hogs in the barns were warm, out of the elements of the blowing snow and ice.

hog barn thermostat

Temperature controls are just one reason we keep our hogs in barns.  By having them in barns, as opposed to outside on pasture, we can keep them safe from predators like coyotes.  Keeping our sows  (the mom pigs) inside, means we can monitor them as they are giving birth and protect the baby pigs.  We can watch for any pigs that may be sick and give them extra attention.

Keeping our hogs inside warm barns means we can also monitor what they are eating.  Pigs are by nature curious animals.  They’ll eat anything put in front of them.  But feeding them the vitamins, minerals, corn we raise and additional soybean meal means we can assure they are getting proper nutrition.

As a 4th generation hog farmer, I remember raising hogs outside.  We used to keep some of our sows in outside lots.  And I recall the anguish on my Dads face when we would lose a sow due to terrible temperatures.  Or a sow would give birth in the outside lot, before we could get her moved inside to birth.  And then we would deal with the loss of the piglets, as the sow likely laid on them.

I’ll never tell any person who spends generations farming how they should farm.  Just telling you how we choose to farm and why we think it is best for our multi-generational farm.  And on days when the power is out in our house, the snow is howling and the temperatures are dropping, I may be inside freezing but our hogs are in nice warm barns.  It’s hard to convince me they should be outside instead.


The Hog Barn is Warmer Than My House!

I am struggling to stay warm. The entire Midwest is under a cold snap that has buried some parts in snow and caused temperatures to plummet.

In my state of Indiana, we seemed to have shut down for the day. This image has been circulating my Facebook feed. I can’t tell where it originated, but it seems appropriate as hundreds of schools are closed, counties are under travel warnings, businesses are closed and even my off-farm job shut down for the day!



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My cornfield received over 17 inches of snow. Current temps are horrible and the wind chills are even worse.








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The storm started out a bit deceptive. On Sunday morning, we couldn’t get my car out to go to church, The Farmer had taken his truck to go plow the church parking lot and we were stuck at home. Since there was a nice, quiet snow falling, I bundled up the kids and sent them outside. The snow was the perfect snowman, fort, angel, snowball kind of snow. And it was eerily quiet. No traffic, no wind, no noise. I made doughnuts. The perfect treat after all their snow work.




2014-01-06 11.22.23 The first thing we did when the wind started to pick up was to bring the 4H bunnies in the house. While our 4H animal barn is sheltered from the wind and cold, I wasn’t going to take a chance of a heat issue or frozen water bottles. So they are living in my laundry room right now! 





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Then it was time to worry about bigger issues.  -45 degree wind chills surely meant our power would go out in the hog barns at some point overnight. I asked my social media friends to not only pray for the emergency workers, lineman, and others who had to brave the cold. But to pray for farmers who have to deal with livestock and can’t just hunker down in their houses to ride out the storm.

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When we woke up, this is what we saw.  17+ inches of snow and no possible way for our hired help to get to our farm to work. So The Farmer is doing it all today. These barns house gestation units. Sows that are going to have baby pigs and sows that just had pigs. So we have to watch the temperatures very closely to make sure the barn stay warm to keep those baby pigs warm.






2014-01-02 18.36.19The barns are roughly 73-80 degrees, depending on what size of pigs are in them. This control panel keeps track of the temperatures. If we would have a power outage or the temperatures would drop, an alarm is activated and we receive a phone call to alert us of the problem. Then The Farmer would have to plow his way to the barns to fix the problem!







2014-01-06 11.23.48The barn is warmer than my house right now.  The barn is at least 74 degrees.  My house, set at 74, keeps falling. When I took this picture we were at 67.  It has fallen to 66.  Can someone send balmy weather my way?  Or another pair of fuzzy socks?





2014-01-06 09.50.26If you look across our fields, you see what looks like ocean waves, but made of snow.






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There is plenty of talk from animal rights groups that hogs should be raised outside and not in barns. I would challenge every one of those people to stand outside in our weather for any length of time. They don’t want to live in this, why should I raise hogs outside when it’s colder than sin outside??

My hogs are in climate-controlled buildings.  It’s warm. Warmer than my own house right now. They have access to feed and fresh water.  Their water lines aren’t frozen, like many of my friends lines whose own water pipes are frozen solid. Our hogs have My Farmer to make sure they are warm and fed and who is putting their best interests over his own as he braves these cold temps and plows his own way to our barns, both here and many miles away, to check on their well-being.  So people say farmers don’t care about their livestock? Come walk a mile in our shoes today. You’ll change your mind.