We are making plans to ship a couple of pigs next week. Plans include getting the animals loaded up as gently as possible. I suppose if I had a few thousand pigs to load in a single day I couldn’t do it the way I do. I would have to pay more attention to Temple Grandin. But I don’t have a few thousand pigs. I currently have four and they are working for me in the barn, cleaning up behind the cows and mixing old straw and hay into bedding that I will compost.
When it is time to move we take the feeder out of the pig pen, put a little fresh bedding in the trailer, back the trailer up to the pen and open the door. The pigs climb in and out, exploring the new space. It really is just that simple as they are naturally curious creatures.
We gave them access to the trailer for a few hours, feed them inside the trailer then close the door behind them. No sweat. We have done this with electric fencing on pasture too. If you’re not forcing the animals to do something they are unsure of they won’t push through the electric. Instead, they approach at their own time, sniff, put a foot or two up and go in. The pigs are on high alert when they first enter the trailer. By giving them a little time they settle down and the trailer becomes a comfortable and familiar space.
The trailer was a positive experience for the piggies. None so much as squealed. I didn’t cuss. Nobody carried a big stick. Nobody got bit. We just stood back, let them explore the space, offered a little feed and closed the door. No big whoop.
Sometimes it helps to build a little ramp behind the trailer so they can climb in more easily. We usually use a straw bale or just pile up some bedding.
At the other end we opened the gate again and stood back as the pigs unloaded themselves. There are no unhappy memories associated with the livestock trailer. Hop in, find food. Positive reinforcement. When their final date arrives they will be trained to hop in the trailer and will arrive at the locker without stress. I think that is important.