Q- I am buying some weaner pigs to fatten. Can I collect them in the back of an estate car within a dog crate that can be cleaned and disinfected afterwards? I’m planning to contain them with electric fence, but the breeder doesn’t use it – I’ve been told I must train them to respect the fence before turning them out. Is that correct, and how is it done?

A – I believe that it would be acceptable to collect your weaners in the way that you suggest, provided that all the general guidelines relating to the welfare of animals in transit are adhered to, and provided that the dog crate is thoroughly cleansed and disinfected before and after use. Certainly, I know plenty of people who do transport young pigs like this, and we have done ourselves on several occasions, without any trouble. In order to train your pigs to respect an electric fence, I suggest that you confine them to a loose box or some similar indoor accommodation initially, with a single strand of electrified wire run along one wall, a few inches away from it and about 8 inches off the floor.

When you do eventually transfer them to an outdoor enclosure, you should watch them very closely for the first hour or so. Stand on the outside of the fence, armed with a stick, and give a sharp tap on the snout to any pig that approaches the wire. They very soon learn to approach the fence with caution! Without this additional measure, pigs that are unused to electric fence are likely to push their heads under the wire quite boldly, and then, on receiving a shock, jump forwards through it, rather than backwards. The efficacy of any electric fence is improved if there is a visual barrier (e.g., a hedge or stone wall) behind it.

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