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Raising pigs and sealing leaky pond

 
Lauren Dixon
Posts: 67
Location: Kalispell, Montana
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I read somewhere on this forum that you can use pigs to seal a leaky pond. I would like to learn more about this.

We bought a 1.5 acre plot, largely wooded, with a 15'x30' pond. The pond is currently lined with torn up construction plastic, leaks continuously and nothing is growing in it. It is quite sterile. I would, possibly next year, like to raise fish and edible water plants, so we are looking at rehabilitating the pond.

Would it be wise to buy a couple of pigs, strip the plastic liner out of the pond, drain it, and use it as a pig pen for the season? Would this seal the leaks? Also, would pig manure in the pond pollute the water downstream badly, or would it create some fertility in the pond? And, would keeping the pigs stationary in an area this size be healthy for them?

We have very little opportunity for rotational grazing on our property, due to the thick forest and underbrush. Our 25 chickens in the chicken tractor keep most of the available grass clipped. I would be willing to surrender a little bit of underbrush to pigs, to open up more pasture/food space, but much of our underbrush is comprised of delectable huckleberries. Don't want to lose those!

How can I make this situation work so that we come out of it with a fertile pond and pork in the freezer?
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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I've done this. It takes more than just a couple of pigs even for a small area and it is important that there is some clay in the soil although the hog manure will add some fines. Do a simple soil test. Take some soil, put it in a mason jar, shake, let settle and measure how much clay you have. 20% is good. It settles in layers. If you don't have enough clay you may need to add bentonite or other clay.

You are going to want to get the plastic out first.

Cheers,

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
 
Lauren Dixon
Posts: 67
Location: Kalispell, Montana
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Hey there Walter,

Thanks for the reply! We did a shake test of our soil in preparation to build an earthbag house, and found that our soil is about 80% clay! It seems to me that our pond should not be leaking with this kind of soil, but I assume that when we get the plastic ripped out, we may find out why it is. We are planning to get a couple of weaner pigs in the next 2 or 3 weeks. We will see what happens!

Thanks much.
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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Oh, my gawd! That is a lot of clay. We're mostly gravel and have to look for clay locations for ponds. Do you have problems with expansion and contraction of the soils due to that high clay content?

I think the plastic might be part of the problem. Layers and wrinkles could be creating paths for water to leak along.

If you give the weaners all summer in a 15'x30' pond they may seal it. It is a matter of the repeated packing by their pointy little feet that does the job if the clay is there. Keep it moist. They'll love that.

I would not want to swim in the pond for a few years after they are in it but it will be a great place for growing water plants, then fish and gradually it will clean up.

We have a lot of small ponds. Some are for the pigs, some for ducks, some for us which are really storage for livestock water during dry times like now.

Have fun.
 
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