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Growing summer food for pigs in Andalucia, Spain?

 
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Hi!

We (http://granja.caimito.net) are looking to grow pig food that is available to the animals during the dry summer months in order to avoid buying commercial feed.

The Iberian Pig eats a lot of acorns during fall and winter but most pig farmers feed them commercial feed outside of the acorn season. We would like to go back to a more natural way of feeding a lot of pigs. At the same time we are hoping that by growing food for the pigs we - with their help - can improve our soil and avoid the concrete like soil during the hot summer months here in Andalucia, Spain.

I understand that we probably have to start with some pioneer species to loosen up the soil and build humus. Unfortunately, There isn't that much humus around.

Ideally we want to plant/seed something that grows roots pigs love to eat. But then rooting stops during summer as the soil is too hard to dig into. At least at the moment but maybe we can change that over time.

Any ideas?

Thanks.

Stephan
 
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Location: Richwood, West Virginia
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Stephan Schwab wrote:Hi!
We would like to go back to a more natural way of feeding a lot of pigs...

Any ideas?



Each Iberian pig requires nearly 5 acres of grazing land, on average.


https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/03/18/392177526/this-spanish-pig-slaughtering-tradition-is-rooted-in-sustainability

A "lot of pigs" would probably have to be kept in a sty while forage is mechanically harvested for them on intensively managed plots, in my opinion.
 
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Location: France, Burgundy, parc naturel Morvan
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Love Andalucia and Andalucian people, very generous! Huge natural park , beautiful! On the picture of the tall grass on the arm on your website, are those yellow flowers a local variety of Lotus corniculatus? A clover variety, that would be a good start i'd say. Get a local clover variety, grow it on a destignated plot, and harvest those seeds then throw them around in cold season. Maybe thistles break the hard soils up a bit with their deep tap roots as well, after rotting they make it easier for other plants to enter deeper into the soils. What nitrogen fixing shrubs are occuring naturally? Maybe try establishing Siberian Pea Shrub, it holds out here in France, or Robinia Pseudo Acacia. Those leaves could maybe serve as pig fodder, do i know? No, cause i know nothing of pigs. But i know you can get animals slowly used to eat what you have. And otherwise you got great stuff to chop and drop and build the soils that way, or get into goats to mulch on it if it has to be an animal that reduces the shrubs. There is something going on about goats on Permies now. Sorry no specific advice, just general plant stuff you already knew , hope someone else willing to help who knows specific info, good luck, buena suerte!
 
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Location: Galicia, Spain zone 9a
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If you can grow some fast growing corn successionally, like those available from Carol Deppe, the pigs love the ears and the stalks, a huge amount of biomass for very few seeds. Also summer and winter squash. You may be able to keep enough to go through to spring/early summer.  Get a huge comfrey patch growing and introduce the pigs to the leaves on a daily basis - great for nitrogen. Put them in fields following cows to eat the manure. Then chickens to follow the pigs of course.  The carcasses and leftover bits from chicken slaughtering includingnthe feathers, spare eggs from chickens and ducks, old potatoes and then plant 1st earlies which will come very early down there.  Dried beans from last year and then fresh runnerbeans which are ztarting now. Gruellos, a type of turnip which give two crops of summer leaves, very popular up this end of the country.  And grow fodder trees, goat willow, carob which does so well down there, siberian pea tree etc. From all that you should be able to grow enought to see you through.  I do hope this helps.

Https://www.alamy.es/imagenes/turnip-greens.html
https://www.adaptiveseeds.com/product/vegetables/squash/winter-squash/winter-squash-honey-boat-delicata-organic/
https://www.adaptiveseeds.com/product/vegetables/squash/winter-squash/winter-squash-candystick-dessert-delicata-organic/
https://www.adaptiveseeds.com/product/vegetables/squash/winter-squash/winter-squash-sweet-meat-oregon-homestead-organic/
https://images.app.goo.gl/VUc4F72cUXjzdz518
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salix_caprea
 
Stephan Schwab
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Burl Smith wrote:
A "lot of pigs" would probably have to be kept in a sty while forage is mechanically harvested for them on intensively managed plots, in my opinion.



The number of pigs depends on the quantity of bellota (acorns) available. There are some recommendations and one says two pigs per hectare. BUT it is also a question of management. Almost all fincas in the Dehesa let all animals roam freely and do not use any type of planned grazing at all. Most places have very little vegetation besides the old oak trees. It gets green and there is grass during winter and spring but the rest of the year everything turns - literally - into dust and there is nothing to eat for pigs or cows.

Most pictures of the Dehesa are taken during winter ...

We are looking for a way to bridge the dry period during summer (hardly any rain). We have dug already a lot of swales in order to catch/slow down/retain/store as much rainwater as possible but we need to grow a lot of humus for that to happen well.
 
Stephan Schwab
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Hugo Morvan wrote:On the picture of the tall grass on the arm on your website, are those yellow flowers a local variety of Lotus corniculatus?



Probably it's some smaller brassica campestris. A lot have grown pretty tall in all the places where the cows have left their droppings.

Grass and these brassicas have taken off after two rounds of planned grazing. As I write this we have a lot of standing hay all over the place. Our 20 cows have done a good job and now there is more food they can eat. We are getting 16 more and will have two groups in a planned grazing system in two separate areas to cover more ground quickly. We also have a lot more dead/rotten biomatter on the ground now than last year. What we are missing during summer is moisture but that should follow. All those plants that have grown long roots find water at about 50cm depth at the moment.


Hugo Morvan wrote:A clover variety, that would be a good start i'd say. Get a local clover variety, grow it on a destignated plot, and harvest those seeds then throw them around in cold season.



The main problem is the lack of moisture during summer. We have a lot of clover (subterrean) that showed up in masses but then dried out when the heat started. It was between 15C and 25C and now we are mostly at 30C. Directly in the sun it is much, much hotter. What makes it a challenge - I think - is the fact that a day can start at 15C and after a few hours you measure 30C in the shade. Imagine how hot the sun burns where you are directly out in the sunshine.

There is some moisture left near the surface in the shade of the oak trees. The open areas suffer. So we also looking to close the gaps between the trees a bit for more shade. This forest used to be much denser but over time freely roaming cows eat everything that wants to grow.

Hugo Morvan wrote:Maybe thistles break the hard soils up a bit with their deep tap roots as well, after rotting they make it easier for other plants to enter deeper into the soils.



Yes. In all the heavily compacted areas we have different types of thistles. Nature is applying this fix :-)

Hugo Morvan wrote:
What nitrogen fixing shrubs are occuring naturally? Maybe try establishing Siberian Pea Shrub, it holds out here in France, or Robinia Pseudo Acacia.



I like the Siberian Pea Shrub. Thank you. I'll see where I get it from to start an experiment.

Hugo Morvan wrote:
Those leaves could maybe serve as pig fodder, do i know? No, cause i know nothing of pigs. But i know you can get animals slowly used to eat what you have. And otherwise you got great stuff to chop and drop and build the soils that way, or get into goats to mulch on it if it has to be an animal that reduces the shrubs.



The good thing about pigs is that they truly eat everything :-)

We have a small food forest with some extra plants for chop and drop and want to continue with more food forests in open patches where there are no oak trees.

One of our ideas is to grow a non-fruit (doesn't matter what it is as long as it grows fast) young forest and then let the pigs clear it out every now and then. That way we would have a planned grazing system that goes from one pig forest to the next. Well, we ARE in a forest but I guess it can be understood what I'm trying to say.
 
Stephan Schwab
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Mandy Launchbury-Rainey wrote:If you can grow some fast growing corn successionally, like those available from Carol Deppe, the pigs love the ears and the stalks, a huge amount of biomass for very few seeds. Also summer and winter squash. You may be able to keep enough to go through to spring/early summer.



We have an abundance of food during fall and winter thanks to the oak trees and their acorns as well as the rainfall. As soon as the rain starts after the hot summer everything springs back to life. It slows a bit when it gets to -5C (end of January) during the night but during the day the sun helps to continue growing.

Our challenge is to survive summer. We need to find something that grows well and then stays well despite the fact that there is no rain at all for several months. Or help that plant a bit but we cannot put in a permanent irrigation system for a number of reasons.

During night when it cools down a bit we see a light fog every night. That moisture condensates on leafs and substitutes a bit the lack of rainfall. So I was thinking that I need to grow something that provides a lot of surface area and still can sustain a heavy draught. I mentioned that here: http://bosque.caimito.net/management/regenerativeAgriculture.html. That site has information about how we want to manage our land.

Mandy Launchbury-Rainey wrote:
 Get a huge comfrey patch growing and introduce the pigs to the leaves on a daily basis - great for nitrogen.



I like that idea. How well does it handle a long draught? I see it's being called a hardy plant.

Mandy Launchbury-Rainey wrote:Put them in fields following cows to eat the manure. Then chickens to follow the pigs of course.



Precisely what we are building up to at the moment. We started with the cows. Now we are getting pigs and we already have a few chickens. To give a few numbers:

Next week we have 36 cows, 35 pigs and soon after we should also have a flock of 300 chickens following them in a planned grazing system. Just as you said :-)

I'm sure the pigs won't mind the cow manure. Will they actually eat it? Or just plow through it with their nose?

As I just said "plow through"... I should mention that everybody around is puts a few metal rings through the pig's nose in order to prevent them from digging. They say it were necessary to protect the grass or else one would loose the food for the cows. I wanted to find out and did an experiment: http://granja.caimito.net/blog/en/2018/11/18/pigs-on-pasture-testarea.html

Mandy Launchbury-Rainey wrote:
 The carcasses and leftover bits from chicken slaughtering includingnthe feathers, spare eggs from chickens and ducks, old potatoes and then plant 1st earlies which will come very early down there.



Yes ... Unfortunately we cannot slaugther any chickens yet. What gets in the way is regulations... It takes time to work that out with the authorities.

Please keep in mind that we are not doing some backyard stuff for our own consumption. We are in a regulated industry as we sell food or the initial part of it to the public and we need a license for many things. That is why we have started with cows - easy to manage - and now expand to hens for egg production. Raising meat birds would require us to have an on-farm slaughter facility, which does require a permit and is not common at all here. In fact it is seen as the wrong thing. What works elsewhere in the European Union will eventually work in Spain too but it takes time and may even require going through the legal system. Thankfully there are already a few cases of people raising and processing meat birds with on-farm slaughter in Spain. We will try to get in touch soon.

The other question is whether we are allowed to feed the leftovers to the pigs that are destined to be sold as human food. There may be a rule that needs to be challenged. For the time being I prefer to look for plants as they are not considered a health problem by the authorities...

Mandy Launchbury-Rainey wrote:
Dried beans from last year and then fresh runnerbeans which are ztarting now. Gruellos, a type of turnip which give two crops of summer leaves, very popular up this end of the country.  And grow fodder trees, goat willow, carob which does so well down there, siberian pea tree etc. From all that you should be able to grow enought to see you through.  I do hope this helps.



I'll look into that list of yours. Many thanks!

My preference is to set the stage and then let the animals do the work. Ideally they do the harvest and we don't have to store anything. It should be a self-sustaining system that does not require outside input (in that case our labor).
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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If you start your corn really early indoors you shoudl get a crop for early summer.  The variety I use is
https://www.adaptiveseeds.com/product/vegetables/corn/flint-corn-cascade-ruby-gold-organic/
It has an 85 day growing time and if I can successionally plant here in Galicia I'm sure that you could in Andalucia.
As for feeding carcasses to pigs.....I suppose if no-one knows....... but I appreciate your problems with the Spanish Laws. Do watch this.


 
Hugo Morvan
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Ok so no local clovertype can resist the summer heat, how about importing an African one? Spain is already importing the African climate, so why not take the appropriate flora as well? Anything goes to reverse desertification i guess. If us rich resourcerich educated folk can't manage this, how can we expect the poor to do it?
I guess people from Texas should chime in as well, they have some similar climate going on if i understood correctly.
Do you know Tony Rinaudo, he reforested Niger by FMNR?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dm_qlyvdZ_A
One thing i know of that will survive that drought is Turkish Rocket, they say it can have an 8 meter root, it stays green during the most extreme droughts, so they say. My two that grew out of the package last year are doing fine and flowering now, i might send you some seeds if you fancy? Although read up, they seeds prolific apparently..
I agree with Mandy on Comfrey, the deep rooting kinds of the Bocking kinds will survive, someone will have a heat resistant strain down there where you are, they're easy to propagate from the rootsystem as well. People say they get 200 out of one adult plant. I manage about 20, but other people just seem to be better than i am all the time.LOL
 
Burl Smith
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     "Unlike its spiky cousins, the prickly pear cactus Opuntia ficus-indica is spineless and offers several benefits to both man and livestock. Although it originated in the deserts of Central and North America, this particular species of cactus has long been domesticated and is an important crop in many arid and semi-arid parts of the world."



http://www.new-ag.info/en/focus/focusItem.php?a=340

Possibly handpicking would extend the harvest.
 
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