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Pig house design

The NPF pig house design s suited to all sizes and types of pig operation

Pretty much any building design to house your pigs can be used for natural pig farming. Buildings can be designed to house few or many pigs, be small or large, use basic or high tech materials, be rudimentary or sophisticated in design and operation. The pig buildings I use by choice in my pig operation, photographs of which you will see throughout this website, are basic and rustic in design. They are low cost to build, require basic building skills (so I, my family and friends are able to build ourselves) and use low cost natural materials (wood) and basic manufactured materials (corrugated steel roofs). If you prefer something more modern that's fine.

The key elements of a NPF housing design

The natural pig farming pig houses are designed to maximize the health and well-being of the pigs. Key elements include:

  • Roofing that provides shelter from rain and direct sun
  • Open sides for exposure to outside air (and cooling breezes where climate is hot and during hot seasons)
  • Dependent in climate the building can be designed with no sides, with retractable side 'curtains' that can be raised or lowered as necessary, or with solid permanent sides
  • Open ventilation in roof to promote air flow - where large scale pig production is taking place


If you live in a hot climate:

1: Make sure the roof over-hang on the sides is wide enough to stop the suns rays easily bouncing into the pens from being reflected from the ground directly next to the pens. It is important the pigs are protected from the heat of the sun (and from the torrential driving rain).

2: Try not to surround your sty with a concrete 'flooring' if it is exposed to sun. Concrete absorbs the heat of the sun and will radiate significant heat into the pen. If you have concrete on the ground around your pen this adding to the temperature effect can be partially remedied through:

a) Adding rice husks, wood chips or soil on top of the concrete to reduce the amount of heat absorbed into the ground and the amount of radiated heat from the suns rays.

b) Regularly hose down the concrete with water to cool the ground.

3) In very hot conditions hose down the roof. This will cool it and reduce the amount of heat entering the pen from the hot roof above.

4) Plant trees and vegetation around the pens that will block the direct sunlight from heating up the concrete.

Locate the pig pen door in a corner of the pen. This will make moving any pig out of the pen easier as the side of the pen stops the pig walking past the exit opening it is being driven to and so it will instinctively opt to go out the gate instead. A corner exit point will reduce both pig and human stress when trying to get the pig to leave the pen as required.

An adapted NPF style building is suitable for colder climates

Overall the NPF system we use will work very effectively in any climate. The open sides pig design is one developed and used extensively in Korea which experiences both hot and cold weather. The climate we raise our pigs here in N.E. Thailand is hot - very hot for much of the year with an average temperature range between 24°C - 36 °C. It's actually a climate that is ideally too hot to raise pigs in which is why we place so much emphasis on keeping the pigs cool (open sided pens that allow in a cooling breeze, mud wallows, shade etc.). We use a drop down curtain when the colder weather comes in during November–January; it blocks wind chill and keeps any warmth generated by the pigs in the pen.

In a climate elsewhere in the world that experiences at times very cold weather the pen design may need to be adapted depending how cold and severe the cold actually gets. If you use an open pen system like ours a good option could be to use straw block bales (protected by chicken fence wire to keep the pigs from nibbling them away) to build a more solid temporary insulating wind break wall around the pen. However if you have more extreme cold weather a more solid wall as part of your pen design may be a better option, perhaps supplemented by straw bales to provide extra insulation from the cold outside.

There are also other ways in which the pigs will be able to keep warm. Inside the pen:

1) Lying together so they benefit from each other’s body warmth

2) Burrowing into the deep bed bedding

3) Snuggling into a thick layer of loose straw that you should add to the pen in cold weather periods

It may be that you would want to consider a totally different style of pig house design to the one we use but that keeps many of the key benefits our design offers. There are various non-NPF style pig pen building design options featured in the case studies of the Complete GAP Pigs book that are worth looking at for inspiration, as well among the various free to read books in the Resources - free books section of this website.

NPF sty's are at odds with how pigs are raised in factory farms

Public health authorities may blanche at the idea of open sided buildings. The environment in today's factory farms is so laden with deadly bacteria, virus's and sickness that the farms are more like biological warfare germ agent development facilities. As such, many factory farm buildings are like sealed vacuums with elaborate bio-security measures for people entering and leaving the factory. But the natural pig farming deep bed litter system and stocking densities promotes a naturally healthy environment and the open sided building actually prevent the build up of dangerous pathogens. The fact that something as innocuous as raising pigs is considered such a public health threat says much about just how wrong our food production models have become. Wrong for the pigs inside who must live in the environment where bacteria and virus's are actively attacking the pigs immune system whilst gaining anti-biotic resistance and wrong for the population at large who must live with the risk of a swine flu pandemic these factory farms will eventually succeed on unleashing on the people of the world.

Unlike our natural pig farming pig buildtings factory farming buildings are complex and expensive. With no opens sides you have the additional cost of building materials for the walls, and the need for ventilation and fan systems. And with need for systems to deal with the pig excreta you will need to put in expensive waste handling systems.

Natural pig farming v factory farming