Trapping a loose pig is a challenge as they are fast, suspicious, and smart. It is essential to plan ahead and setup the materials before startling the pig. As prey animals, pigs will flee if they feel threatened. Once the pig feels threatened, he will be on high alert and it will be far more difficult to catch him. For a successful catch, it is important to remain calm throughout the entire process. Whether this is a tame pet or a pig that has been running through a neighborhood for weeks, you’ll want to have all materials and food ready before attempting to catch the pig.
Get ready for the long haul. There is no reason to rush, as rushing will simply spook the pig and put stress on everyone. Pigs respond well to calm and slow. Preparations will include a plan of action, plenty of food, an area of containment (such as hog panels and t posts), as well as a method of transport. Large pieces of plywood, pallets, or sorting boards that can be used as a chute to guide the pig into a crate or to corner a pig. Depending on the size of the pig, transport may be done with a large plastic dog kennel or a small livestock trailer. Also bring extra water for hydration and cooling off. The excursion may be very exhausting for all involved, particularly the scared pig. A bucket may be used to cool off an overheated pig or to back a pig into a kennel. Food will be the driving force behind this adventure.
The more food you have, the less stress there will be for the pig. There is no reason to worry about healthy foods at this point. Stay away from overly salty foods but otherwise, the higher value the food is the more likely the pig is to be contained. Some common choices are pig feed, dog food, cookies, pastries, bread, cottage cheese, sliced cheese, granola bars, or anything else that is handy.
You will need something to contain the pig. The ideal solution depends on the size of the pig, the area he is loose in, and the materials you have on hand.
The easiest way to contain the pig is to set up a temporary pen with hog panels and t posts. Use one panel as a gate and leave that open. Make a trail of food leading into the pen area. Keep your distance from the area so the pig will feel comfortable and secure in searching out the food. The bulk of the food should be near the rear of the pen, or the farthest area from the gate. Once he enters you can close the gate behind him. This is especially helpful for pigs that are loose in the woods.
Another option is to set up a specially made trap that is used to catch lost dogs and/or wildlife. These traps will look similar to a dog crate. Food is placed in a designated spot inside the cage. When the animal enters the cage and steps on a pressure trigger then the door closes, containing the animal. You want food that will entice the pig, something with a lot of aroma and moisture.
When a trap is not feasible, a large dog crate can be used. Place food in the far back of the crate and leave the door wide open. You’ll need to stay nearby for this approach as the door must be manually closed to contain the pig. A rope can be tied to the door to give you a bit of a quicker response in closing the door, although beware this will cause the pig to startle and bolt. Without the door latched the pig may be able to charge out of the kennel.
A very last resort is a dart gun with an appropriate sedative. Used improperly this is extremely dangerous and should only be attempted by a veterinarian experienced with such.
THE FINAL CATCH & LOADING: During final loading it is helpful for several helpers to have sorting boards that can be used as shields and barricades to herd, guide or block the pig. Pigs are likely to retreat when approached and can be directed this way.
Once the pig is in the the temporary pen or small space, you’ll need to get him into a crate for transport. Ensure sure the crate has a non slip bottom so he doesn’t injure himself while in the crate. A carpet, a towel, a rubber mat, or straw make excellent flooring for the kennel. For added security, place a bungee cord or rope across the front of the crate to prevent the pig from forcing the door open.
One method to get the pig into the crate is to back him in. This can be accomplished by feeding him close to the crate and then using a bucket over his head causing him to back up, into the crate. If the crate is not large enough for him to fully turn around, then this method will help him stay calm during transportation as he can see out the front of the crate.
Another option is to place the open crate along the fence line or wall of the enclosure he is in. Use boards or pallets to create a chute, a narrow walkway that will give him no choice but to move forward into the crate. Once he is in, simply close the crate door.
On the other hand, if the pig will be traveling in a trailer or in the back of a vehicle without a crate, it may be possible to back the trailer up to the containment area. Then build a ramp with a chute of sorts with flat boards or pallet walls to create a narrow alley way for the pig to walk. Using the side of the containment area will help, whether that is a building wall or cattle panel fence.