NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Pigs and trailers.  (Read 647 times)


  • Joined Apr 2016
  • Shropshire / N Wales Border
Pigs and trailers.
« on: July 17, 2017, 09:00:38 pm »
Yesterday we never two of our pigs from their area to another one which is much easier to load from as they went to the abattoir today. We have done the same thing many times before with no bother. However yesterday the pigs would not go up into the trailer for anything. We offered food nettles weeds straw and they would not go up the ramp. Ended up sleeping outside for the afternoon and eventually 7hrs after we started they loaded at tea time when they were ready for dinner. They had not had any breakfast so they must have been hungry before but didn't seem to drive them in. So we moved them round to the new area opened the trailer and they would not get out. Ended up sleeping in the trailer all night with the door open and access to the new area where their water was but they would not budge. We ended up syringing water into their mouths to make sure they were not dehydrated. They did not come out all day so eventually were taken the to abattoir having been in the trailer for 20 hours or so but always having access to get out. At the abattoir they wouldn't come out and had to be quite strongly persuaded.
They seemed to be in a trance but responsive to stroking and offers of water.
We have never had this happen to us before and we feel really bad about it. Def not how we wanted their last day to be.
The only reason we can think of is that we weaned the goats on Saturday so all this played out to a backdrop of goat screams which might have spoiled them
Any ideas why they behaved so strangely?
Sorry for the long post!


  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Pigs and trailers.
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2017, 09:35:15 pm »
Have they been in the trailer before? Were they going to load then decided they weren't? Did you have straw on the ramp? Did they not want to leave their mates?

I wouldn't have been worried about them staying in the trailer. You could feed them in there. I would have moved the water trough to them not syringed.

Not too great them not coming out at the other end. Were they settled when you left them?


  • Joined Apr 2016
  • Shropshire / N Wales Border
Re: Pigs and trailers.
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2017, 10:05:13 pm »
Hi. They hadn't been in before but then again there is always a first time.
I did put water in the trailer - one drank then tipped it up. The other wouldn't go near it.
TBH we had to get them out separately and one had already gone through the system by the time the other was out. We were first there.
Overall it was a dreadful experience for all of us and the worst possible way for us to treat our pigs on their last day. We feel terrible about it.
We still have two to move and are planning our strategy as we speak.


  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Pigs and trailers.
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2017, 07:46:04 am »
If at all possible leave the trailer with the ramp down for a few days in their paddock and let them explore. If you have more than you are taking out them all on and get off what you don't need.

Fingers crossed you just had a two really awkward ones and the next two are a dream.

What breed were they?


  • Joined Apr 2016
  • Shropshire / N Wales Border
Re: Pigs and trailers.
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2017, 08:57:46 am »
Thank you. Yes we have everything crossed!! They were GOS X middle white (X stubborn buggers!! )


  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Pigs and trailers.
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2017, 09:30:20 am »
You may have a point about the breeding there. Wait and see what the next ones are like  :fc:

The worst pig I have had for loading is a large white. When we we collected her despite my OH putting some straw on the ramp the sun suddenly came out and bounced off the ramp and she didn't like it. She was a pretty big gilt by this point and was very strong. Once we got her contained it was a bucket on the head and a backward load. (In fact that maybe something you might try if you have any more problems). Since then she just do trailers without an army of people to get her on.


  • Joined Apr 2016
  • Shropshire / N Wales Border
Re: Pigs and trailers.
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2017, 10:00:40 am »
I like the idea of the bucket backward load of really necessary
Thank you
We once had two that wouldn't load but the area and choices were too big. We chased them round with a pig board for 2 hours and missed the abattoir !
We have learnt a lot since then but clearly not enough.
Thank you for your comments. It's nice to be able to offload and benefit from other people's experiences


  • Joined May 2013
Re: Pigs and trailers.
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2017, 10:11:16 am »
As I know I've already written (!) we get them used to the trailer over three days....I suspect that it's not just that they get used to it and associate it with food, but also when we start we are completely unstressed ourselves - it doesn't matter if they go in or not - and I really think that it helps that the pigs don't pick up any stress from us.
I completely share your misery with a bad last day.  A few years back we loaded fine, but at the other end the staff seemed a little impatient to unload (though no-one behind us), and we could hear squealing from the stalls as we drove off.  Complete misery and the annual vegetarianism discussion lasted longer than usual.... (never been back to that abattoir)....
Also of couse it may simply be random bad luck.....


  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: Pigs and trailers.
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2017, 11:12:21 am »
I think Harmony has said everything I'd advise. Straw in the trailer and on the ramp, put the trailer in place for at least a few hours before you plan to load. Make sure their hungry and leave a trail of 'treats' from their pen onto the ramp and their on before they realise. If their shy you could build a pen behind them so they only have the ramp to go on?


  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Pigs and trailers.
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2017, 11:34:50 am »
Loading areas are really important. Where possible have solid extensions attached securely to your ramp sides which you can move in behind the pigs as they approach the ramp which they can't escape from and can help encourage them forward. Have a petition in the trailer so if one goes in and not the other you can keep at least one in there.

Best of all is feeding in a trailer for a few days before they go or leaving a trailer where they can explore themselves. Mine can't go passed a trailer ramp without going up it! Apart from the Large White!!

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Pigs and trailers.
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2017, 01:03:01 pm »
Look at the trailer from the pig's viewpoint, too.  Is it dark inside?  Is the ramp solid to walk on or does it move about a bit because of being on uneven ground?  A piece of old carpet on the ramp can help and bits of wood underneath to brace it.  Put some of their own bedding inside, at least at the top of the ramp - pigs are all about their sense of smell and this can reassure them. 


  • Joined Dec 2012
Re: Pigs and trailers.
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2017, 01:04:01 pm »
I left the trailer on with my two Berkshires last year and they went in with little persuasion. However when I got back I discovered that they had chewed two light fittings off!!


  • Joined Apr 2016
  • Shropshire / N Wales Border
Re: Pigs and trailers.
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2017, 01:18:23 pm »
We have had light fittings chewed off in the past too!
Regarding the ramp, I read somewhere that a bit of carpet can help them to not get spooked by the ramp so I sacrificed an ikea rug to the cause only for them to pull it off the ramp and sleep on it!
I really appreciate all your comments and suggestions thank you. Hopefully this was a one off but for sure we will change our approach going forward!

farmers wife

  • Joined Jul 2009
  • SE Wales
Re: Pigs and trailers.
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2017, 11:16:50 pm »
When we had lots of Old spots they would drive my husband berserk as so stubborn he'd be carrying them on there while swearing and screaming.  Nice memories.  Had a couple of Welsh here who went straight on so problem at all.


  • Joined Mar 2013
  • Independent Land Rover Specialst
Re: Pigs and trailers.
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2017, 02:01:26 pm »
We put the trailer in the field for them to get used to and feed them in it for a few days. But beware the first time they trashed the trailer, chewed all the lights and pulled the wiring off. We now use a light board that slots in when needed.


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