May is a great time to get weaners

May is the ideal time to buy in a couple of weaner pigs to fatten for the freezer – they’ll be just right for slaughter when the weather gets cooler in the autumn. Choice of breed is immaterial, but if you’re going to be killing them yourself then I’d advise you to avoid coloured breeds and anything with Tamworth in its ancestry, simply because removal of the bristles is so difficult. A white pig – either a modern hybrid or a traditional breed such as the Welsh or British lop – is so much easier to deal with!

When buying weaners for fattening, factors such as the number of teats they’ve got and the size of the litter that they came from are totally irrelevant. What matters is health and conformation, so look out for piglets that are well grown for their age, with nice clean skins and silky hair. They should be long in the body, with well developed hindquarters and good posture. Avoid excessively hairy pigs, and any that have pimply or itchy looking skin, or crusty ears. Healthy piglets are jaunty and inquisitive, so any animal that stands in a corner with a hunched back and a straight tail is clearly anything but. Look in the dung corner for signs of scouring (and don’t buy any from that litter if you’re in any doubt). Ask the vendor whether they’ve been wormed, and even if he says they have, do them again as soon as you get them home, just to be on the safe side.

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