Kunekune 101: Transportation and New Arrivals

Two eight-week-old piglets (~20lbs each) fit into a medium-size kennel, they grow quick can be up to 40lbs by 12 weeks – so keep that in mind!


By law, all breeding pig stock must be tagged (or microchipped or clipped) and all movements must be registered on PigTrace Canada. This is not required at this time for non-breeding stock intended for slaughter. To sign up for PigTrace you will need to get a Premises ID if you don’t already have one. Here is the link for the BC site.

PigTrace gives you seven days to report any movements of your pigs. To accurately report a movement you should ensure your customers have a Premise ID before any breeding pig leaves your farm. 

Mode of Transport

Pigs move across Canada in kennels, trailers, or airplanes. Your local airport will be able to give you their regulations on crating and shipping pigs via air.  If you are using a car/kennel or trailer to transport, remember that in Canada you must provide bedding (straw, sawdust, hay). The bedding should be sufficient for the weather conditions to keep the animals comfortable and warm. In trailers, it is particularly helpful to have rubber barn mats as insulation and cushion, but they MUST have bedding on top.  Barn mats get slippery as soon as they get urinated on and can be dangerous without bedding. In the summer a couple of inches of bedding works, and in mild winter conditions 4-6 inches of bedding is good. Make sure the kennel or trailer also has adequate ventilation without being too drafty.

For climate-controlled short trips can be offered every couple of hours. While on the road, offer hay and water, and feed as usual if doing a multiple-day trip. For longer trips, it is suggested that you give electrolytes. This can be Gatorade, Pedialyte, or a homemade pig electrolyte solution. You want to make sure they are hydrated.

Finally, you should take biosecurity very seriously when transporting.  Make sure you scrub and disinfect your trailer if it has been on another farm or to the abattoir.  Don’t forget to disinfect any feed dishes, water bowls, and gumboots you used while transporting.


If you have existing pigs, it is best to keep new pigs separated for the first 30 days in accordance with biosecurity recommendations in Canada, see page 4-7 of the BC Introduction to Small Scale Pig Production. Even when livestock comes from a trusted farm, there is always the potential for contagions to be picked up during transport. In addition, be sure to keep an eye out in the rare case a pig (similar to cattle) develops shipping fever during transport, in which case veterinary intervention (often antibiotics) is needed. Once the quarantine period is over and you are certain your new additions are free of sickness or disease, they may be integrated into your existing herd. As a tip, it is best to mix like-sized pigs and like genders together (barrows mix well with either gender). When we mix different-sized pigs, we let the smaller pigs adjust to the area first (for a few days) before introducing the larger ones, one at a time. It gives the smaller pigs the upper hand.


We like to send our pigs with a sample of their current feed to help them transition onto the feed you will be using.  They are used to eating two meals a day, breakfast (usually somewhere between 7 and 9 am) and a late afternoon dinner (usually somewhere between 3 and 5 pm). They will get to know you as you feed them each day and settle in more and more each day. Have fun getting to know your new additions. It is beneficial (not to mention enjoyable) to develop a working relationship with your livestock.  Giving scratches behind the ear, giving tummy rubs, and touching them on their neck and legs come in handy later when you need to perform husbandry tasks such as giving shots and cutting toenails. Calling your pigs when you feed them is a helpful skill too.  In the event a gate is left open, it is good for them to know a sound to come running to. “Pig, pig, piggy”, and “Sooie” are our favourite calls around here.

Setting Up

When you get your new pigs home, introduce them to a safe and secure area. They should have access to shelter as well as be shown where to find plenty of clean water. It helps to keep them in a smaller area for the first bit so they can orient themselves to where to find food, water, and shelter. Start them off with a solid fence. We don’t currently run electric wire on our farm and they will need to be trained to electric if you plan on grazing them on a pasture or silvopasture without a solid fence.

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