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Pigs as commercial compost shredders

 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
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Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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  I'm contemplating some quite unconventional sources of pig feed. Firstly, I have large quantities of alder and Cottonwood tree waste. Goats eat it all the time but I would prefer to have pigs since I'm looking to process massive amounts of compostable tree waste and other organics. I have room for about 10,000 yd.³ of this material in a huge hugelculture area. I'd like to fence some pigs into this area and regularly dump truckloads of this waste for them to root through.

    A free source of protein in my area is road kill. Mostly deer with the occasional raccoon and farm animal thrown in. Grains are expensive here so I would use them sparingly. I could see planting big rot piles with potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes. After I harvest all that comes easy I would turn the pigs on to that section so that they would stir up the piles in pursuit of tubers I've missed.

   I would construct a simple movable shelter so they can dodge the rain. Compost produces quite a bit of heat and I'm sure they would burrow to whatever depth is most comfortable in winter. There are low muddy areas which would provide a natural Spot for summer wallowing.

   My primary reason for acquiring pigs would be to use them as gasless rototillers and material processors in my composting operation.

   I'm thinking Tamworth or some other rugged breed since they are tough and would probably have a better chance of surviving in an area with cougars and bears. I'll use electric fencing and other means to control predators.

    I know that large parts of the world are overrun with feral hogs but the chances of this are unlikely here since they are no match for our predators.

Two questions 1. Has anyone used pigs for composting on this scale?             2. Can pigs be made to stick around without fencing. The natural forests here doesn't provide much natural pig food and it contains predators so I'm hoping that I can keep them home simply by providing plenty of food and water and shelter just as free range chickens don't require fencing. This may be wishful thinking
 
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