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Get pigs to till they said. It's great they said. Uh huh!

 
pollinator
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So I'm starting a new garden this spring. It used to be part of my orchard so it has a fair amount of cover crop items on it. AKA clovers, sainfoin, vetch, grasses. I picked this particular area because nothing was doing super great over there for whatever reason. I moved the trees to the greener side and set the pigs out to till this up. Well they haven't. They've eaten the grass down but they've not barely dug at all. I even soaked it with the hose. What am I doing wrong here ya'll?
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[Thumbnail for Pig-pic.jpg]
Obligatory pig pic
 
pollinator
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If you want them to dig, you need to give them something to dig. Sometimes, grubs will be enough. Other times, most times I have heard of, you need to plant something like tillage radishes, something that drops a tasty tuber into the ground for them to dig up. They're not altruists, after all.

-CK
 
elle sagenev
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Chris Kott wrote:If you want them to dig, you need to give them something to dig. Sometimes, grubs will be enough. Other times, most times I have heard of, you need to plant something like tillage radishes, something that drops a tasty tuber into the ground for them to dig up. They're not altruists, after all.

-CK



I'm not feeding them. I thought that'd be enough encouragement. LOL They had no problem escaping the fence and digging up my lawn. >.< Maybe they know I'm going to eat them and they're getting revenge.
 
master steward
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What kind of pigs are they?  From what little I understand, kunekune and American guinea hogs don't root much at all.
 
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I tried that. It was one of those projects that sounded like a good idea, but in the long run was more work than it was worth. Any livestock needs infrastructure and knowledge. I would have been ahead if I had just rototilled. The meat was second rate. I’m impressed with how much they will eat. Unless I’m paying for it....
 
elle sagenev
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Mike Jay wrote:What kind of pigs are they?  From what little I understand, kunekune and American guinea hogs don't root much at all.



They are American Guinea Hogs and they have tilled up vast swaths of our property in other places, where i didn't intend for them to do it. lol
 
elle sagenev
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Dennis Mitchell wrote:I tried that. It was one of those projects that sounded like a good idea, but in the long run was more work than it was worth. Any livestock needs infrastructure and knowledge. I would have been ahead if I had just rototilled. The meat was second rate. I’m impressed with how much they will eat. Unless I’m paying for it....



I don't feed anything at all from spring to fall so they eat a lot of the property. They eat A TON in the winter though. I'm with you.
 
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i have no intentions of having pigs but i watch a lot of youtube channels featuring pigs. Justin Rhodes has done some good videos, mostly with smallish patches. on occasion he has gone in and forked stuff and dropped grain in the fork holes (and then the pigs go hog wild to get that grain).
it would seem to me, from what i see with my dog digging up my 3 square feet of grass, that grubs and yummy things live in grass.
 
pollinator
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Elle, I've had pigs for several years now and have different kinds of housing arrangements. I can honestly say, pigs are not substitutes for a rototiller or shovel. They never did a good job of tilling. They will snuffle the surface, removing vegetation ....but only where they want, not where you want. They will dig a few holes, again where they want. They might even root up an area, but nothing suitable for making into a garden without putting a lot more work into it. They tend to root hit & miss, with more missing than hitting.

On top of that, when confined in order to force them to root up a large area, they compact my soil. Really compact it terribly that it won't drain rainwater. Wherever I've had a pig pen, I have to spend hours with a bar loosing up the soil again to decompact it.

I totally gave up with the idea of using pigs to rototill a new garden area.
 
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The Little Black Hogs are grazers by nature, unless there is not enough grazing. The big hogs are better suited for that type of work. I've raised both types and much prefer the Little Black Hogs.
 
elle sagenev
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So I've been throwing the pigs food out on the ground in the patches of grass I want removed. I'm not sure if it's the pigs or the chickens but someone is helping me out. Victory!
 
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I try to get pigs with tamworth in them, they are the rootin’ist pigs I’ve seen.

I run my pigs in an 8x16’ cage and move it every day.  They strip it bare and it is the best looking grass when it comes back of anything on the field.  It comes back faster than I would need to come back around again. They do have areas they cause depressions.

When you move them they run to the new grass to start eating

I do feed non gmo also and have a lot of Johnson grass which has rhyzomes and they seem to love it.  But like I said, the grass comes back great which will be the same for your garden.

Edit...my last set I got at 80lbs and they were butchered at 285 after 3.5 months. Most delicious I’ve ever raised (tamworth/Berkshire mix)
 
pollinator
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We've got Mangalitsas that are plowing machines.  We've also got mini's who.. .aren't.  They don't til worth beans.
 
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Sweet potato can sometimes become the main ground cover here , with no planting. People harvest and then wait for it to refill. I'll bet pigs would like to be turned loose on that.
 
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To get our guinea hogs to root I just let them stay on a piece until they have grazed everything down, then they get into rooting mode and it usually only takes a day of that to plow up the area.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I think there really has to be something to root for, beyond grass roots. I've seen pigs tethered to one spot day after day , that did not seem to root much. When set lose, the same pigs go down to the river and dig deep trenches. Lots of big plants with tuberous roots, and a variety of creepy crawlies.
 
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I have heard of this a lot, especially since I Land Clear for myself and on a contractual basis. Its just natural to discuss other ways to do things besides using big machineryt o turn forest into field. And while I have had an open mind about it for years, it has slowly being closed off in terms of using pigs to till. In my line of work, it is in the use of pigs to dig out stumps instead of an excavator.

As far as I can tell, it is one of these myths that have hit the internet and one person tells another, who tells another, who tells another without really trying it themselves, and so it sounds like a credible practice, until it is tried. Then once it is tried, and it fails, people start stating all the mistakes why it failed, when the reality is, the practice never worked in the first place, or if it ever did work, there was certain circumstances that dicated why it did in that specific case.

And while there is nothing wrong with learning and trying new methods that do not use fossil fuel, despite watching a dozen people try this method, in EVERY case, they ended up hiring an excavator to come in, and finish the job. So I would not be too hard on yourself Elle. I would really like to see it work, but your results are typical of what I have seen in Maine too.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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I think the pigs as plows can work but you have to 1. have the right breed(s) 2. there needs to be items they like to eat under the surface so they will want to root and 3. you have to leave them on the plot long enough for them to get down to having to root up those sub surface items to eat.

I do not think this is practical for most folks and if you are going to pasture pigs then it most likely won't work since you would be wanting to move them from paddock to paddock far faster than it would take for them to root.
If, however you have one of the heavy rooting breeds, and you have "salted" the area with root plants hogs like to eat, then you should have some success with using them as plows.
It isn't going to be an even, over the whole space plowing but more a spotty plowing and some areas would most likely be deeper disturbed than others, with some spots untouched.

Redhawk
 
Chris Kott
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So you just have to give them something to root for, eh? More daikon than the home team, I'd imagine.

I could see them being more useful in gleying a pond, as that specific action mimics what they do when they wallow. Maybe as a pre-till, on really compacted forest soil, or old-growth pasture, with roots as thick as pencils, but again, there would have to be a really great incentive for those pigs to root the area as completely as desired.

I think also that pig-tilled earth can't be held to the same standard as machine-tilled earth. I think that it should be assumed, using this process, that unless the space and stocking rate is tightly controlled, as with a tractor setup, some large quantity of root vegetable will be missed.

This isn't a failure, but a compound strategy. The tubers that aren't rooted up will rot in place; their work of breaking up hardpan already done, they will feed the soil microbiome. Whatever tillage the pigs don't do, the soil life will take care of. If a finishing pass is required to order the rows, it will probably take less time and fuel to follow a tractor-full of rooting pigs than it will to break virgin ground alone, which means if you have smaller equipment, leading with a pig tractor should allow more to get done, easier.

-CK
 
elle sagenev
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Just seems to be my pigs are GREAT eaters but they mostly eat things that I could care less about. I actually want them to eat something and they're like....eh.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Hogs are like that, yeah they are.

Elle, it has been my observation over the last 4 years with our AGH that if you want them to eat something, they will look at it, sniff it and turn to walk away to eat some grasses.
 
Dale Hodgins
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We had a cow trained to tether, that we tied along the roadside. If left in place for more than a day, the ground would really get torn up. She didn't do any rooting, but most vegetation was eaten and the rest trampled. Now imagine if you heavily irrigated during the last day. The feet would sink in deeper. And because the foot traffic isn't always related to food, it's more likely to be evenly distributed.

Buffalo are used here to work the rice paddies. They don't seem to have a problem with wet feet. Judging from the size of them I bet they'd make and ideal plow.
 
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Hogs do compost weeds,grass & table waste, they also break up the ground. I have heard of letting chickens & ducks into the garden to pick over the leftovers, then let the pigs in for a day or two.
But I never heard of someone getting pigs to root/plow up a garden. New persons on homesteads sometime over state the multitasking & how well it works.
Small farmer have been multitasking for over 150 years & most of the thing they worked out still work today. Pasturing pigs is a bran new ideal according to some of the home steaders, we were doing it in the 1960.
It is fair to say that you learn by doing & it may work better for you then the farm up the road.
 
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You have to get a bacon pig, not a lard pig. Bacon pigs are long, lean, active pigs, where as lard pigs are short (in length), lazy, and fat. If you can find Tamworth they will plow 2 feet deep with ease but they are an extreme bacon pig, the picture of your pig: you have a lard pig which will basically only root down to the grass roots.
 
Joe Grand
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Dave Fast wrote:You have to get a bacon pig, not a lard pig. Bacon pigs are long, lean, active pigs, where as lard pigs are short (in length), lazy, and fat. If you can find Tamworth they will plow 2 feet deep with ease but they are an extreme bacon pig, the picture of your pig: you have a lard pig which will basically only root down to the grass roots.



Dave, it will be a few years until I am ready.
I have been looking at bacon hogs for well bacon that is farmed raised, until this year I never heard of Tamworth, but now I am thinking they are worth the extra $$$ to own a pair.
I was told they have 5-10 piglets at a time, that would feed my whole family for 12 months & still have a few to sale off every Fall.
I think I will try three pigs one each from three breeds, before I make up my mind.
 
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