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    Pig Living Space Cleaning And Maintenance

    A row of five wheelbarrows propped upright in the grass.
    Photo by Shelley Pauls on Unsplash

    Cleaning and maintenance are important aspects of caring for pigs. Providing a clean living space can help prevent illness, and regular maintenance will keep spaces safe both for the pig residents and their human caregivers.

    Create And Maintain A Cleaning Schedule

    Though it’s important to check spaces each day and do any necessary spot cleaning, the frequency at which full cleanings are needed will be based on a variety of factors.

    When establishing cleaning schedules, keep the following in mind: 

    • The frequency at which an indoor space will need to be cleaned will depend on the number of residents, how much space they have, and how much time they spend indoors. This may change seasonally, especially if different seasons bring very different weather conditions. You may find that during cold weather, your pig residents spend most (or even all) of their time indoors, whereas the opposite might be true when the weather is warmer. 
    • Certain areas may need to be cleaned more often than others. For example, some pigs may have a preferred spot to relieve themselves, and this spot would need to be cleaned daily (even if it is outdoors). Keep in mind that even if your residents seem to have a designated bathroom area, the rest of their living space still needs to be checked regularly. If residents have a designated feeding area, this may also need more frequent cleaning. 
    • When first determining how often indoor spaces must be cleaned, it might work well to evaluate the space daily to determine if it needs to be spot-cleaned (making note of soiled areas) or totally cleaned. Tracking this information can help you determine if a set schedule makes sense (such as cleaning the bathroom area and around water units daily, and then doing a full cleaning every X number of days) or if it makes more sense to continue checking the space daily and cleaning as needed.
    • Regardless of your cleaning schedule, if bedding becomes wet, it must be replaced. In addition to wet areas caused by urine, residents may make a mess while drinking, automatic water units can leak, and precipitation may blow into the space soaking certain areas that will need to be cleaned. When residents have access to mud wallows or pools/ponds, you may find that bedding in areas where they sleep and relax will get wet or dirty and need to be replaced more often.

    More Bedding, Please!
    Most pigs enjoy a good nest and may spend a significant amount of time carefully constructing the perfect one. Even if you go out of your way to provide large piles of fluffed-up straw for burrowing in, you may find that residents have strong opinions about just how much bedding they need. It’s not unheard of to come in to find that your residents have removed nearly all the bedding from the main floor and piled it on top of their beds. Because of this, your pig residents may need bedding added to their living space more often than other residents. Even if the amount of bedding is sufficient, because pig beds can become flattened with use, be sure to fluff them up as needed!

    Routine Cleaning

    Be sure to do the following during habitat cleaning:

    • Remove all bedding and any soiled or wet hay. Use a stall deodorizer to neutralize odors and ammonia and absorb moisture. 
    • If you are using stall mats, remove and clean under them regularly.
    • Be sure to check for areas where bedding or hay can build up (such as behind open doors or gates or behind water tubs) and remove debris regularly.
    • Dust fans, ledges, and other surfaces to promote healthier air quality (this is best done after putting down fresh bedding).
    • Drinking water sources should be cleaned at least once per day and refilled with fresh, clean water. Because the cleaning process can result in bedding ending up in water sources, it’s a good idea to clean these after new bedding has been added to the space. Feeding bowls, troughs, etc. should also be cleaned at least once per day. 
    • Mud wallows, pools, and other water sources also need to be cleaned regularly. While it’s (relatively) easy to clean pools daily, mud wallows can be a bit trickier. Regularly flushing out wallows (allowing them to overflow) can help flush out dirty water and replace it with fresh water.
    • While large vegetated outdoor areas aren’t typically cleaned regularly, if your residents have designated a particular outdoor area as a bathroom, this area should be cleaned regularly. 

    Further Reading
    Wondering what to do with all that poop? Check out our introductions to manure management and composting for more information.

    Deep Cleaning

    In addition to routine cleaning, be sure to schedule a few deep cleanings each year. This is the time to clean the entire space even more thoroughly, which may include the following:

    • Dusting and removing cobwebs in hard-to-reach areas that are difficult to do regularly
    • Wiping down gates
    • Disinfecting non-porous surfaces
    • Digging out and replacing the top level of dirt flooring (or digging out and replacing dirt in specific areas as needed)
    • Digging out mud wallows to remove waste and expose fresh soil

    Keep The Weather In Mind When Scheduling Cleaning and Maintenance
    Avoid projects that require locking residents out of their indoor spaces during uncomfortable weather. This may mean scheduling projects for early morning, before temperatures heat up in the summer, or finding a way to clean spaces without restricting your residents’ access to the space during cold, blustery weather.

    Cleaning Supplies

    Suggested supplies for habitat cleaning include:

    • Pitchfork, rake, and/or shovel to remove bedding. In larger spaces, you may opt for equipment such as a skid steer loader with a bucket attachment to scoop and remove bedding.
    • Non-toxic stall deodorizer. Avoid using hydrated lime as a stall deodorizer – it’s not safe for you or your residents to breathe it in, and it can also cause skin and eye irritation.
    • Large buckets to hold old/soiled bedding or bigger equipment, such as a tractor with a tow-behind dump cart.
    • Broom to remove cobwebs and sweep up dust/debris from non-dirt areas.
    • Long-handled duster to dust circulation fans and exhaust fans.
    • Animal-safe disinfectant or cleaner, such as dilute chlorhexidine or Bac-Out, to clean non-porous surfaces.
    • Cloth rags to wipe down ledges, window sills, fans, etc.
    • Face masks to prevent dust inhalation.

    For more helpful supplies to consider keeping on hand, check out our supply checklist resource here!


    You should always be on the lookout for areas of the habitat in need of maintenance so you can address issues in a timely manner, but some maintenance issues are most apparent when bedding is removed, so be sure to closely examine the habitat during regular cleaning. While there are a variety of things that can break or otherwise require maintenance, the following are of particular note:

    • Dirt floors can develop divots over time, and these can result in injury to residents or humans. Be sure to fill these in as needed. You also may find that after repeated cleanings, the floor is no longer higher than the outside ground, resulting in drainage issues. You’ll need to add dirt to maintain a slightly elevated interior space.
    • Particularly with large breed pigs, repeatedly rubbing against structure walls or fencing could result in damage, so be sure to check these regularly and make repairs as needed. Be aware that metal siding can develop sharp edges when damaged. If you have metal siding, you’ll want to be especially vigilant about inspection and repairs in order to prevent injury. Residents may also chew on wood walls or fencing, especially when they are impatiently waiting for their next meal, which could result in damage.
    • In addition to fixing anything that appears to be in need of repair, be sure to inspect any heating and cooling systems prior to the time at which you typically need them (i.e., inspect all fans and water misting systems before the warm weather hits). This will allow you to fix or replace devices as needed and ensure that you are able to keep residents comfortable.
    • Before cold weather hits, be sure to check the living space for gaps or cracks that could create a draft. Also, be sure to check any exhaust fans to ensure the shutters close properly to keep cold air out when not in use. 
    • Most wood siding will need to be repainted or restrained as needed to keep it protected and prolong its life. Be sure to use paints and stains that are safe to use around animals.
    • In addition to damage to fencing caused by residents rubbing against it, residents may also attempt to root under it and/or bend up the bottom portion of wire fencing. Be sure to inspect fencing regularly so that any necessary maintenance can be performed. Damaged fencing can be a serious safety risk either by allowing residents to leave the safety of their outdoor space or by putting them at risk of physical injury. Fencing can also be damaged by fallen branches or flooding, so it’s a good idea to check fences following any storms that have the potential to cause damage.
    • Similarly, you may find that gates need regular repair or adjustments. Using a gate to scratch that itch or rooting under it can knock things out of place, affecting gate hinges and latches. Without necessary adjustments, gates may be difficult to latch/unlatch, and residents may be able to push them open or knock them off their hinges.
    • Pigs can really tear up outdoor spaces with their rooting behavior. While this is a normal pig behavior that they should be free to do, it can result in rather treacherous walking conditions. In some cases, using equipment to even out bumpy terrain may be helpful. Also, keep in mind that rooting can unearth rocks that are uncomfortable to walk on and can cause hoof lesions, so you may need to clear these out as needed. Depending on how the land was used previously, their rooting may also unearth old metal equipment or other hazards, so it’s a good idea to walk the outdoor space regularly and remove any hazards.
    • Speaking of rooting, be prepared to reseed outdoor spaces as needed. You may find that the plants they don’t eat start taking over the pasture, altering the mix of vegetation they have access to.

    Now that you’ve got an idea of the cleaning and maintenance required, be sure to come up with a plan to keep on top of these tasks. Doing so will help in maintaining your pig residents’ health, comfort, and safety!

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