With all the wet weather keeping the bedding in your arks clean and dry for as long as possible can be a problem. Even with plenty of thought to placing arks on higher, well drained ground the constant rain of the last few months is going to present a problem to any pig keeper with arks outside.
Obviously, pigs will carry mud in on their legs and this will then be left in the bedding. You might need to consider wood bark or chippings to create a clean area outside the door. Even the smallest hole on the roof is going to make a big difference inside the ark and if water is seeping in from the sides and floor it will be a constant battle. No matter how much bedding you use if the ark is leaky and the area around waterlogged your pigs will be cold, damp and miserable.
Whilst straw has good insulation and draining properties it does tend to take on moisture from the atmosphere so you may need to look at alternatives or combinations of bedding.
Don’t be stingy with the bedding. Building up a deep litter in the ark will keep the pigs off the floor, which will be cold and damp, also a deep litter bed generates it’s own heat. OK, there will be more mucking out when it needs changing but it will be worth it.
My friend buys baled reeds and she puts these in the ark first and tops with straw. Again, it creates depth but the pigs still have plenty of straw to bury themselves in.
Old hay (not mouldy) makes good bedding. If you have small bales you can make a carpet tile effect on the base of your ark with the slices as they come off the bale.
Bracken, shavings, sawdust and even old coats or sheep’s fleeces can all help to keep the pigs warm. Not forgetting other pigs; the more pigs the better, as they love to cuddle and keep each other warm.