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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Learn about raising and keeping pigs - on a small or large scale

Develop Pig Management Skills

  • Learn or improve your pig management knowledge.
  • Course for anyone keeping pigs – commercial, smallholding and self-sufficiency.
  • Understand pig management and have confidence in pig farming. 

This excellent course helps develop a broad foundation understanding of pig anatomy, management and production. You will learn breeding and selection, housing, feeding, pig diseases, boar management, managing the sow and litter, fattening pigs, record keeping and more!

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Distance Learning Pig Husbandry course

For the Smallholder or Commercial Producer

  • Learn pig management for commercial production, self sufficiency or as a hobby.
  • Study and understand of pig anatomy, management and production. Learn breeding and selection techniques, housing, feeding and diet management, diseases, boar management, managing the sow and litter, fattening pigs, record keeping and more!


  • Select appropriate breeds for different purposes.
  • Explain how to manage breeding.
  • Explain the physical facilities, including buildings and equipment of a pig farm.
  • Explain the procedures in managing the health condition and nutritional feeding of pigs.
  • Explain husbandry operations associated with farming.
  • Develop marketing plan, including traditional and innovative approaches.
  • Develop different strategies to manage the general operations associated with pig farming. 


In this course you will study the following topics:

Lesson 1. Background to pig raising
  • Pig Farming
  • Pig Husbandry terms
  • Hybrids in pig farming
  • Pig breeds
  • Pig Production systems
  • Building systems
  • Environmental controls
  • Building materials
  • Floors
  • Pig pens
  • Waterers and feeders
  • Fencing
  • Waste water treatment
  • Water flow
  • Anaerobic ponds
  • Suitable plants
Lesson 2. Breeding and selection
  • Heritability in pigs
  • Testing pig performance
  • Points for selection
  • Pure breeding
  • Cross breeding
  • Crossbreeding systems
  • Single cross
  • Back crossing
  • Rotational crossing
  • Hybrid breeding
  • Artificial insemination
  • Animal selection
Lesson 3. Feeding Pigs
  • Types of rations
  • Energy requirements
  • Protein requirements
  • Mineral requirements
  • Vitamin requirements
  • Digestive system
  • Understanding feeding
  • Feeding on pasture
Lesson 4. Pig diseases
  • General health problems
  • Management practices
  • Notifiable pig diseases
  • Some major diseases affecting all pigs
  • Diseases affecting sows
  • Diseases of growing and fattening pigs
  • Handling and restraining pigs
  • Vices in pigs
  • Summary of pig diseases
  • Pre-weaning period
  • Post-weaning period
  • Breeder pigs
Lesson 5. Managing the boar
  • Selecting a boar
  • Housing
  • Feeding
  • Health
  • Breeding
Lesson 6. Managing the sow and litter
  • Selection of gilts
  • Housing
  • Feeding
  • Weaning
  • Ovulation
  • During pregnancy
  • Before farrowing
  • Farrowing
  • Lactation
  • After farrowing
  • Management of the suckling pig
  • Marking Pigs
  • Points to consider at weaning
Lesson 7. Management of Fattening pigs
  • Feeding fatteners
  • Housing
  • Transporting to market
  • Cuts of pig meat
Lesson 8. Economics and Records
  • Efficiency factors
  • Gross output
  • Records
  • Pig Calendar
  • Pig Ration
  • Pig Register
  • Sow Record
Lesson 9. Managing a Piggery
  • Research innovative practices
  • Evaluate the production performance of a specified piggery.


Here are just some of the things you will achieve!

  • Compare the different characteristics of common breeds.
  • Select appropriate breeds for three different specified situations.
  • Explain heritability factors relevant to pig breeding.
  • Explain pig performance testing.
  • List factors which affect the selection of pigs for breeding.
  • Compare applications for straight breeding with cross breeding of pigs.
  • Describe how the process of artificial insemination of a pig is carried out by an experienced technician.
  • Explain the different husbandry operations carried out during each of the different stages of breeding.
  • List the minimum facilities, including equipment and buildings necessary for growing healthy pigs.
  • Recommend three items of machinery which can be used to automate a piggery operation.
  • Explain the housing requirements of pigs in a specified commercial production enterprise.
  • Compare housing requirements for boars with those for sows, in a researched piggery.
  • Prepare a sketch design of an area for farming pigs, showing the location of major facilities.
  • Assess the disposal system(s) being used for effluent at a specified piggery.
  • Explain the concept of reed bed treatment of effluent, for a piggery.
  • List pests and diseases that commonly affect pigs.
  • Develop a checklist of general signs which indicate ill health in pigs.
  • Describe three significant pests or diseases of pigs, including their symptoms and effect.
  • Explain a treatment for each of three different common pests or diseases in pigs.
  • Determine the health status of a unit of pigs at a piggery, using a checklist which you create.
  • Report on the significance of health services for pigs, including veterinary and quarantine services, as used on a specified piggery.
  • Explain a vaccination program, including what it is, how it is performed and it's expected benefits, that is used at a specific piggery.
  • Explain the function of the different parts of a pigs digestive system.
  • List various food sources for different food nutrients for pigs.
  • Analyse the ingredients in a pig diet, being used at a commercial piggery.
  • Describe food ration requirements for a specific pig.
  • Prepare a sample of pig feed suitable for either a boar, a weaner, or a porker.
  • Explain the differences in feeding pigs under different circumstances.
  • Explain the techniques used to physically handle pigs in different situations.
  • Prepare a timetable of husbandry tasks, from weaning to marketing, for fattening a pig.
  • Compare two different, but commercially viable, systems of raising pigs.
  • Prepare an annual program of routine pig husbandry tasks, for a specified enterprise.
  • List pig products commonly sold through retail outlets in your locality.
  • Analyse wholesale and retail marketing systems for pig products.
  • Explain the factors affecting sales of pig products, over a twelve month period, in a specific locality.
  • Explain the factors affecting the cost of pig products, over twelve months, in a specific locality.
  • Analyse the marketing of a specified pig product from the farm through to the consumer, including associated work tasks, and costs involved.
  • Write an innovative plan for the marketing of pigs or a specified pig product.
  • List factors which affect the profitability of a pig farm in a specified locality.
  • Evaluate the production performance of a specified piggery.
  • Explain the organisational structure of a specified piggery.
  • Write a job specification for one member of staff of a piggery.
  • Assess the impact of staff interactions on productivity in a specified piggery.
  • Recommend ways to increase unit performance of a piggery reviewed in a case study.
  • Write a management procedure, including contingency arrangements, for control of production targets and budgeted costs on a pig farm.
  • Explain the legal requirements and regulations appropriate to operating a specified commercial piggery.
  • Analyse the procedures involved in purchasing a specific piggery which is advertised for sale.
  • Determine three innovations in the pig industry, which may improve management of a specified pig enterprise.
  • Evaluate three different innovations being used in the pig industry.
  • Develop a production plan for pigs on a specified property.
  • Design a form for record keeping of appropriate piggery data.


All domesticated pigs are descended from two closely related species: sus vittatus, from Asia (mainly China and Thailand) and Sus scrofa, the wild pig of Europe and North Africa.

The Asian pig has short legs, a wide dished face and the ability to fatten rapidly. The influence of this pig can be seen in the Berkshire and Middle White breeds. The European pig was thin with a long, pointed face. The Tamworth is a modern pig that shows these characteristics. Fixing and improvement of breeds has been taking place for over one hundred years. Pigs are kept only for the production of meat. The meat can be used in two different ways - pork and bacon. As such, two distinct types of pig have evolved. The pork type for the production of fresh meat and the bacon type for the production of cured meat, bacon and ham.

In modern pig husbandry, it is not so important to choose a pork type or a bacon type. Due to better breeding, stricter selection and, above all, scientific feeding the modern pig can produce good quality pork or bacon. The feeding system and age at slaughter will determine what the pig will produce.

Where to House Pigs

Pigs in a group quickly establish a pecking order or social status which will remain in place as long as they are together. The most dominant pigs will become the senior pigs in the group. These are the pigs that tend to eat the most so become larger and heavier than the other pigs. There will always be some variation in the weights of pigs being fattened for this reason.

Pigs should be housed in small groups of seven to nine for fattening. Larger groups spend more time fighting and show larger variations in weights as well as taking longer to reach market weight. Whenever practical, hogs (males) should be penned separately from gilts. Hogs will eat, on average, half a kilogram more than gilts and will steal the gilts food if they are fed together. Hogs run to fat quicker too so it is a good idea not to allow them access to more food than their ration allows.

The accepted minimum floor area per pig is between 1.0 to 1.3 m, but it has been proven that a larger floor area promotes greater daily gain. There should be a sleeping area and a dunging area with adequate feed trough space for the number of pigs in each pen. There must also be enough water trough space or drinking nipples for the pigs.

In warmer places (e.g. Mediterranean areas); pigs can be fattened in relatively simple buildings because of the kinder climate.  It is far more profitable to attend to management than to build pigs palaces!  A box - type sleeping area that can be covered in winter and uncovered in summer is the main requirement. The dunging passage does not need to be covered. The whole of the sleeping and feeding area can be roofed with thatch or asbestos sheets and it is a good idea to insulate the latter. Ventilation is all important to keep the house cool in summer, warm in winter and free of noxious gases at all times. This particularly applies to pigs housed inside.

Is This the Course For You?

You can enrol on the Pig Husbandry course at any time.

The course is self-paced, so you can study at a time and location to suit you.

Whether you are looking to improve your pig management skills, raise pigs as a commercial venture, or even as a hobby this course offers a solid source of learning.

Graduates of the course may use what they learn in a range of possible situations:

  • As a Piggery manger
  • Free range pig farmer
  • Piggery hand
  • Pig breeder
  • Research Institute roles
  • Manufacturing/supplying products to the pig industry
  • Marketing or sales
  • Wholesale/Retail Specialist
  • Teaching or writing about pigs
  • As a Self sufficiency consultant
  • Caring for "pet" pigs
  • A foundation for further studies

Any Questions?

Our Pig Husbandry tutors are happy to answer any questions about the course, so please do ask.

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Request a course handbook here.

Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Meet some of our academics

Alison Pearce (animal)B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Masters Degree in Ecotourism. P.G.Cert. Ed. (Science). Alison's first job was in 1982 as a stockwoman, working with pigs in Yorkshire. Within a few years she of that she was working for the University of Western Australia as a Research Technician and instructor with their school of Agricultural Science.In 1989 she moved to Melbourne University as Unit Manager and Instructor in Animal Husbandry. By the mid 1990's she moved back to England to work in Animal Care and Veterinary Nursing at Cambridgeshire College of Agriculture. Throughout her career, Alison has developed and delivered courses in veterinary nursing and animal sciences for vocational colleges and universities in Australia, New Zealand and Australia. She has built a high level of expertise and an outstanding international reputation as an expert in animal sciences.
Dr. Gareth PearceGraduated from the University of Nottingham in 1982 with a B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Between 82 and 85 worked as Research Assistant and Demonstator in Animal Science at the University of Leeds. Over more than 30 years he has furthered his studies, obtaining eight significant university qualifications including degrees in Veterinary Science, Wildlife Conservation and Animal Behaviour. Gareth has significant teaching experience around the world as a faculty member at eight different universities including Associate Professor at Murdoch University and Director of Studies in Veterinary Science at Cambridge University. He has over 100 prestigious research papers published, and enjoys an outstanding international reputation in the fields of animal and veterinary science.
Cheryl McLardyA scientist, teacher, writer and animal scientist, with more than 20 years experience including: Sports Horse Stud Groom, Stable Manager, Yard Manager, Equine industrial Training Manager, FE Distance Learning Manager. Cheryl has travelled widely, working in England, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand; and is now based in Scotland. She holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons), Higher National Diploma in Horse Management, and a City and Guilds Teaching Certificate.
Marius Erasmus Subsequent to completing a BSc (Agric) degree in animal science, Marius completed an honours degree in wildlife management, and a masters degree in production animal physiology. Following the Masters degree, he has worked for 9 years in the UK, and South Africa in wildlife management, dairy, beef and poultry farming.

Check out our eBooks

Animal PsychologyExplore how animals think and comare how this differs between different animals (and humans)
Animal Feed & NutritionThe Aniaml Feed and Nutrition ebook is a comprehensive guide to animal feed and the nutritional requirements of different animals.
Animal HealthUnderstand animal health issues, diseases and how identify and manage illnesses and injuries. Animals can become sick for many different reasons -diseases caused by infections, injuries, poisoning, genetic disorders, poor nutrition and other things.
Farm ManagementThe Farm Management ebook is a valuable piece of equipment for any farming student or current farmer. Improve your farm management skills or learn new skills and techniques. The topics covered within this Farm Management ebook include 1/ Scope and nature of the farm industry, 2/ The farm site, 3/ Production systems, 4/ Managing livestock, 5/ Managing pasture, 6/ Managing crops, 7/ Managing equipment and materials, 8/ Computer applications, 9/ Farm structures and buildings, 10/ Financial management, 11/ Marketing, 12/ Farm planning, 13/ Staff management, 14/ Water management and 15/ Diversification.