The Old School Pig Wranglers of Sun City, Florida

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Feeding Time at the Old School Pig Pen
Keep movin', movin', movin' Though they're disapprovin' Keep them Piggys movin' RawPig! Don't try to understand 'em Just rope, throw, and brand 'em Soon we'll be living high and wide. My hearts calculatin' My true love will be waitin', Be waitin' at the end of my ride. RawPig! RawPig!
It is the job of Old School Pig behaviorists to interpret animal behavior and translate in clear language the cause of behaviors and the underlying motivations for them. For years, we have been interested in the Old School method for moving Pigs because low stress methods of handling Pig are known to improve both productivity and welfare. For example in a Pig-Piglet operation, when the animals are being moved from pastures into corrals, or in pasture rotation movements, Pigs that get excited and run wildly when being driven can lose their Piglets, or the Piglets can get stressed and will gain less weight.
Headed to the Open Pig Range of Sun City, Florida
Wild, uncontrolled movement of Porkers causes stress in the animals, wear and tear on equipment or fences, and a greater incidence of injuries to both Pig Wranglers and Pigs. Slow, calm movement of Pigs in feedlots can also lower stress, reduce sickness, and enable Pigs to get back on feed faster. Pigs that run wildly down alleys into the processing area become stressed prior to the stress imposed by restraint for normal Piggy procedures. In order to lower stress and improve productivity, calm, quiet handling of Pigs in all aspects of management is very important.
The Old School methods of calm, slow movement of Pigs on pastures can be defined as a stimulus-response relationship. In Pigs that have had no previous experience with herding, the "stimulus" is a person who simulates predator "stalking behavior", which elicits predatory "avoidance behavior" in the Pigs.
1st Pig of the Day OMG I love My Job
The "stalking" behavior simulated by the person is similar to the behavior of a predator such as a lion or a wolf. First, the predator locates the herd. Then it begins a slow survey of the herd by walking in a circular direction around the herd looking for weak or old animals. The behavior of the predator circling the herd causes anxiety in the animals. The Pigs become uneasy over an impending attack by the predator and begin to loosely bunch together. This is an instinctual HARD WIRED behavior that is wired into the animal's wee Piggy brain. This uneasiness and slight anxiety comes before the fear and flight elicited by an actual attack. It is important to remember before attempting to use these methods that it is anxiety that makes this technique work and not fear.
Yo Ho Yo Ho the Pig Wrangler's Life for Me
When the method is first used it triggers instinctual bunching behavior. The more a person works with the Pigs, the calmer they become and instinctual bunching behavior is gradually replaced with calm learned behavior.
The Old School method to move herds of Pigs on pastures or to move Pigs in large feedlot pens are easy to learn if you have patience and take your time. The Pig Wrangler moves at a normal walking speed (as a stalking predator would) and there should be no noise such as whistling, yelling, or whip cracking. If the Pigs start running, these methods will not work. This method only works on animals that are slightly anxious and not fearful to the point of flight and running to get away. If the Pigs become excited in your first attempt and start running, they must be allowed to calm down for at least 30 minutes before the next attempt is made.
Old School You Got Him In the Ear Sites?
Pig Wrangler movements must be steady and deliberate with no sudden jerky movements or arm waving.  These methods work best on Pigs with a fairly large flight zone. We attempted to use these methods on a large group of tame feedlot Pigs with no success. It is very difficult to elicit predatory avoidance behavior in tame Pigs with extensive contact with people. Tame Pigs can often be moved easily by leading them. There are also times of day effects that may aid handler movements. For example, Pigs that are actively grazing a pasture tend to spread out, whereas Pigs resting between grazing will bunch closer together. There are three steps in the process of moving Pig on large pastures: Gathering and Loose Bunching:  This is the most critical step. The majority of the herd must be loosely bunched before any attempt is made to move the herd.
OOO NOOO You Don't Porky
Depending on herd size, wildness of the Pigs, and the terrain, it will usually take 5 to 20 minutes to induce the herd to form a loose bunch. This is accomplished by applying very light pressure on the edge of the collective flight zone to induce the animals to move into a loose bunch.  The Pig Wrangler should locate the majority of the herd and start making a series of wide back and forth movements on the edge of the herd. You should move in the pattern of a giant windshield wiper.  The arc of the zig zag movement must not exceed quarter circles. DO NOT CIRCLE AROUND the Pigs. The movement should be straight or a very slight arc.  The Pig Wrangler can induce the rear animals to begin to move by giving them a "predatory" stare. This simulates the initial stalking behavior of a predator sizing up the herd.
Watch Out it’s the Dreaded Attack PIG!!
The Pig Wrangler should keep continuously moving back and forth. If you stop moving and linger too long in one animals' blind spot it may turn back and look at you. On open pastures, it is important to take your time. Six to twenty wide back and forth movements of 100 meters or more may be required to move the herd into a loose bunch. Pig Wrangler movement patterns on large pastures and other large spaces are much larger than handler movement patterns in confined spaces such as alleys or feedlot Pigpens. Animals spread out over large areas require larger movements than animals gathered together in smaller spaces. The Pig Wrangler should continuously ride back and forth and move enough to the side that the lead animals can see him.
Pigs that are off to one side of the pasture will be attracted as the herd moves into a loose bunch.
Keep movin', movin', movin', Though they're disapprovin', Keep them PIGGYS movin' RawPig!
Animals hidden in the brush or timber will be drawn out because they seek the safety of the herd. Do not chase stragglers.
It is very important that the Pig Wrangler resist the urge to press the Pigs into loose bunching too quickly. Remember, in this step the Pig Wrangler is attempting to cause slight anxiety in the animals by simulating predator "stalking" behavior. Stalking behavior causes anxiety which makes the animals want to bunch together closely for safety. This anxiety comes before the fear and flight caused by an attack by the predator. Take your time to allow the animals to bunch together and to allow Piglets to find their mothers.
Initiating Movement: When the majority of the herd has come together into a loose bunch, increase pressure on the collective flight zone to initiate movement in the desired direction.
Rollin', rollin', rollin' Though the streams are swollen Keep them PIGGYS rollin' RawPig
Initiating movement in the desired direction. The Pig Wrangler continues the back and forth movements but presses closer to the herd to induce movement. This will cause the herd to move forward and begin to string out.   Pig Wrangler need to differentiate between "good" and 'bad" movement of the pigs. When pigs have "good" movement, they can easily be driven in the desired direction. When animals have good movement that are all headed in the same direction and moving smoothly. They will look like a group of animals walking to water or making some other voluntary group movement on a large pasture. In a large group of animals, "good" movement starts with one animal and additional animals will gradually follow. "Good" movement entices the other animals to follow, and bad movements prevents other animals from following in an orderly manner.
You Can Run But You Can't Hide from the Pig Wranglers
There are two types of "bad “Pig movement;
1-Running, cutting back, and other panic induced movements,
2-Animals stop moving as an orderly stream in the desired direction.
The first signs of bad movement are stopping, wavering towards motion or starting to turn away from the desired direction to look at the handler. The extreme form of type two movements is circular movement.
Good Pig movement can be disrupted when the animals are attempting to locate the Pig Wrangler position. This is a natural anti-predator behavior of prey species. They want to know where the predator is and what its intentions are. Animals will turn and look at a person or a dog that is either in their blind spot behind their rear or is outside their flight zone.
No Mama I Have No Intentions of Messing of With YOUR Piglets Sorry to Bother YOU
Pig Wrangler should not remain more than momentarily in any individual animal's blind spot. Riding through the blind spot will not cause a problem.
To make the group move pressure has to be applied to both the collective flight zone and Pig Wrangler individual animals within the moving herd. When an animal or a group responds to the Pig Wranglers pressure on the flight zone, the must IMMDIATELY stop forward movement or change direction of movement to relieve pressure. This rewards the animal for moving in the desired direction and the animal is more likely to continue that movement. When the desired movement slows down, the handler must apply pressure again.
Every time you are working your animals you are training them. You can train them to be easy to handle and have good movement or you can train them to be difficult and have bad movement.
In a Pigs EYE

3-Controlling Movement Direction:
Animals must all be walking in the same direction before any attempt is made to change the direction of movement. When good movement is initiated, the handler can control the direction of movement by moving to the left to make the cattle turn right and vice versa.
The  Pighandler moves back and forth near the gate. He or she walks deep in the flight zone when walking in the opposite direction of desired movement and walks outside the flight zone in the same direction as desired movement. A Pig Wrangler in this position can act as a valve to control animal movement and help prevent broken fences. Controlling animal movements out a gate will also help prevent mother pigs from losing their piglets. It also trains the pigs that people control their movements.
Dos Porkers Dead Ahead

Triggering the animal's natural bunching behavior gets the herd together so that they can be moved. After the herd is bunched, the handler must use the principle of pressure and release to keep the herd moving in a controlled manner. If continuous heavy pressure is applied to the flight zone, the herd is likely to start running. To start moving the herd, apply more pressure to the collective flight zone. When the herd starts to move in the desired direction, the handler should retreat and reduce pressure. When the herd slows down, pressure must be reapplied. To keep the herd moving in a controlled manner the handler continues to alternatively apply and release pressure.
When these methods are first used they work because they trigger the animal's hard wired behavior patterns that it uses to avoid predators.
Wagon Remains
At first, a slight anxiety is produced, but if the handler is always calm, he/she can teach the pigs that they do not have to be anxious. At this point learning will take over and the Pig Wrangler will no longer have to rely solely on the animal's natural instincts.
When Pigs are moved on pasture, they can be taught that pressure on their collective flight zone will be relieved when they go where the Pig Wrangler wants them to go. Calm quiet can also Pig Wrangler teach his or her herd that they will never be pressured to the point of being frightened.
This principle is being used by progressive Old School Pig ranchers to manage pastures without using fences to divide up different grazing paddocks. A Pig Wrangler who spends many hours on the range or pasture pressures the flight zone when the herd moves out of the designated grazing area and reduces pressure on the flight zone when the animals move back into the designated area.
Heading to the Barn EEE I EEEE I O

Teaching a herd to root in a desired location will be much easier if young pigs are used which are more easily trained. The most difficult herd to train would be a group of old Pigs from several different ranches. Some old Pigs have learned bad habits which are hard to change. Herding will usually be easier if "bunch quitters" and hot tempered Pigs that disturb the entire herd are culled.
In conclusion, one must always remember that every time you handle your Pigs you are training them. You can train them to be wild and stressed or you can train them to be calm and quiet. It is also advisable to train your Piglets that they can be handled many different ways, such as on foot or horseback and with vehicles such as four wheelers. Training your Piggy to tolerate several different types of calm handling will ease their adjustment to trucking and entering a feedlot.
Another Day in the Life of the Old School Pig Wranglers of Sun City, Florida
iramalama says:
Oh my. Very informative though!
Posted on: Feb 11, 2010
Sunflower300 says:
Have you ever tried putting a sheep in there to talk them into moving? You know, the oposite of what happened in 'Babe'. Bar Ram Ewe :)
Great blog Bill.
Posted on: Jan 28, 2009
oldschoolbill says:
How do I come up with these ideas? Good question, I just see things differently than most people. I have always had a unique sense of humor. There are many mysteries in life & I appear to be one. Most of the time it is fun. I also think it helps to have ADHD M o u s e.
Posted on: Jan 27, 2009
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Feeding Time at the Old School Pig…
Feeding Time at the Old School Pi…
Headed to the Open Pig Range of Su…
Headed to the Open Pig Range of S…
1st Pig of the Day OMG I love My J…
1st Pig of the Day OMG I love My …
Yo Ho Yo Ho the Pig Wranglers Lif…
Yo Ho Yo Ho the Pig Wrangler's Li…
Old School You Got Him In the Ear …
Old School You Got Him In the Ear…
OOO NOOO You Dont Porky
OOO NOOO You Don't Porky
Watch Out it’s the Dreaded Attac…
Watch Out it’s the Dreaded Atta…
Keep movin, movin, movin, 
Keep movin', movin', movin', Th…
Rollin, rollin, rollin 
Rollin', rollin', rollin' Thoug…
You Can Run But You Cant Hide fro…
You Can Run But You Can't Hide fr…
No Mama I Have No Intentions of Me…
No Mama I Have No Intentions of M…
In a Pigs EYE
In a Pigs EYE
Dos Porkers Dead Ahead
Dos Porkers Dead Ahead
Wagon Remains
Wagon Remains
Heading to the Barn EEE I EEEE I O
Heading to the Barn EEE I EEEE I O
Another Day in the Life of the Old…
Another Day in the Life of the Ol…
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photo by: jwhittrn