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Acorns

 
Jim Lea
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I am considering getting pigs. We have 20 acres of land with to many to count scrub oaks. I have heard that acorns are great feed for the critters.
My thought is that the pigs can get to the acorns since they are bushes rather than trees. Of course once they fall its a no brainer.
Any thoughts on breed? Black wattle with their protective eye shielding ears?
Paddoc shift fencing? Can electric be uses effectively? I have no idea. We are off grid. Can solar pack enough punch?
Okay so I'm a nut and have a tractor and plenty of big rocks. I'm even considering moving the rocks close to the bushes so as to make a pig ladder. Something to give them a boost up. More access to food for them.
Any thoughts much appreciated.
Jim
 
Walter Jeffries
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Jim Lea wrote:I am considering getting pigs. We have 20 acres of land with to many to count scrub oaks. I have heard that acorns are great feed for the critters.
My thought is that the pigs can get to the acorns since they are bushes rather than trees. Of course once they fall its a no brainer.
Any thoughts on breed? Black wattle with their protective eye shielding ears?
Paddoc shift fencing? Can electric be uses effectively? I have no idea. We are off grid. Can solar pack enough punch?
Okay so I'm a nut and have a tractor and plenty of big rocks. I'm even considering moving the rocks close to the bushes so as to make a pig ladder. Something to give them a boost up. More access to food for them.


We raise pigs on pasture and dairy plus some veggies, fruit and nuts - alas, no acorns. We have beech, hazelnut and others. The pigs eat the drops. Don't worry about that. The nuts and fruit drop. The trees may get damaged by the pigs, small trees more so. Sheep and goats are worse on trees. Horses awful to trees, especially fruit trees.

We use managed rotational grazing. Works great. A mix of grasses, brush and trees is ideal. A wallow is key. Drinking water a must have. Seed some legumes such as clover and alfalfa into the mix to boost the protein levels. Get a soil test to make sure you have sufficient iron and selenium in particular. Kelp is a good supplement.

I strongly suggest electric fencing. Once trained to it the pigs are very respectful of electric. Solar is not as good as AC but does work. Consider a larger battery or just check regularly.

Don't worry about breed. Just get some pigs. Now is a fine time to start.

See http://SugarMtnFarm.com/pigs for what we do.

Cheers,

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/
 
Cj Sloane
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I'm off grid and finally got solar electric to work for me. I got a 10 mile solar charger and ran that 6" off the ground.

I'm partial to heritage breeds because I think they do a better job of foraging. I have tamworth/berkshire. Look how cute:
3 little pigs></a>

Don't make a pig ladder. When the acorns are ready they will fall. You might even want to keep the pigs away from the trees till harvest time.

I've started planting productive trees just outside my paddocks so the fruit will fall in for the animals. You've got a great head start if the oaks are producing.

Jim Lea wrote:
Any thoughts on breed?
We are off grid. Can solar pack enough punch?

I'm even considering moving the rocks close to the bushes so as to make a pig ladder. Something to give them a boost up. More access to food for them.
Any thoughts much appreciated.
Jim
 
Walter Jeffries
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A trick we do is run double fence lines parallel to each other. Between these we have nut trees, fruit trees, berry bushes and other forages that spread outward or drop their fruits and nuts out. What falls between the fences the piglets get. What falls out of the fenced area into the paddocks the bigger pigs get. The low wire is higher to allow piglets to creep feed as needed. This is easy to adjust.

Like this:

ppppppppppppppppppp
ppppppppppppppppppp
ppppppPADDOCKppppp <--- big animals graze in paddocks
ppppppppppppppppppp
ppppppppppppppppppp
ffffffffFENCEfffffffffffffff
bbbBUSHES-TREESbb <--- little animals can cree in margins
ffffffffFENCEfffffffffffffff
ppppppppppppppppppp
ppppppppppppppppppp
ppppppPADDOCKppppp <--- big animals graze in paddocks
ppppppppppppppppppp
ppppppppppppppppppp
 
Jim Lea
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I like your ideas on trees in-between paddocks. As far as the solar electric goes... Cj. You mentioned 10 mile. Is this a brand or can they be run that distance? If it is not a brand do either of you have experience with a company you would buy from again? Walter you mentioned training? Any tips for this?
This all begs the question, what do you do if a 600lb. Boar decides the grass is greener on the other side of the wire? Are these critters reasonable? Can they be coaxed back to home? Really. I have zero experience here and this is a real concern for me. I don't want to make the papers as the knuckle head who didn't know what he was doing and had a hog get loose.
By the way Cj. Thanks for the picture. Cute little guys.
I hope this all works out. First things first though. We have to get a well punched. Then livestock. Right now it is 20 chickens and 7 turkeys. They can be managed by trucking in water.
Again. Thanks guys for your help. Any books that are a must have for swine raising? Just trying to cover the bases here.
Jim
 
Walter Jeffries
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Jim Lea wrote:10 mile {fence charger}. Is this a brand or can they be run that distance?


Caution with the distances they claim. That is based on miles of unloaded wire. Not actual fence line and not real world conditions. They say 10 miles of fence but if you have four wires then divide 10 by four to figure on 2.5 miles of fence line as the max if unloaded. If you have any weed load, leakage, etc it pulls down the voltage and reduces the distance it will do.

We use three fence energizers, a 6 joule, a 15 joule and a 15 joule plus we keep a 15 joule backup on the shelf.

http://www.kencove.com/fence/Mains+Energizers_detail_EK15.php

We divide our fencing up into different sections so each charger is doing a different area - they can't be cross connected. Our outside perimeter is 1.5 miles of line done as four wires so that is '6 miles' of fence. We actually run it as a north half and a south half. The inside paddocks run off the outside or off the third charger depending on the section. This switches a bit with the season as we turn off much of it in the winter.

Jim Lea wrote:Walter you mentioned training? Any tips for this?


Setup a small paddock with strong physical fencing and the electric fence inside it. Keep new livestock in there for several weeks. They train to the fence. Then move them out into a section that is strongly electrically fenced with a good visual marker at the fence line. After a few weeks of that they're ready for more lightly distant fields. With animals that grow up on your farm from birth they may not need this as they learn it early.

Jim Lea wrote:This all begs the question, what do you do if a 600lb. Boar decides the grass is greener on the other side of the wire? Are these critters reasonable?


If he can't be trained to the fence I eat him. This is one of my breeding criteria. Good hot fencing with a good visual mark works well. Pigs are very trainable to electric fencing.

A key thing to make fencing easy is to have everything they want on their side of the fence and the scary things outside the fence. A panicked animal can bust through a fence.

Jim Lea wrote:Can they be coaxed back to home?


Yes, train them to follow you, to come to the sound of your call. Food works wonders.

Jim Lea wrote:I have zero experience here and this is a real concern for me.


We have about 400 pigs. Boars get up to over 1,700 lbs. Sows typically get to 800 lbs. They mind the fences very well. We have separate boars in the north herd and south herd. Electric fencing keeps things peaceful.

Jim Lea wrote:First things first though. We have to get a well punched.


Water is very important. Take your time. Get infrastructure set. Start small. Move slowly.

Jim Lea wrote:Any books that are a must have for swine raising?


Small Scale Pig Raising is a excellent older book. Not pasture so much but has the basics. $10 or so used. Amazon.

Cheers,

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/
 
Jim Lea
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Wow Walter! Thanks for taking the time to answer all my questions. Turns out that while you were answering I was at your website learning all manner of things on your blog. Great work!
Fun to see your pictures and read explanations of basic things. Even pregnancy pointers. Literal and figuratively! "Up" is good. More piggies on the way. Like your style of writing. Say it as it is.

Any thoughts on brands of elect. fencing? Good explanation on loading or voltage drop with weeds and such.
Do you ship piglets? When the time comes. Sounds like you have bread in some desirable traits.

Best,
Jim
 
Cj Sloane
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Here's the one I bought:
Zareba 10 mile charger
It was a little cheaper at Tractor supply. I'm happy so far but it's only been about 6 weeks.

I ran the electric in an area that already had woven wire fencing because they were starting to dig under the fence. The wire was hard for them (& me) to see though so I switched to polytape. I did not have to train them or the sheep.

I did raise pigs last year without the electric. This batch are bigger diggers. I recommend starting out with 2 piglets. At 6 months they should be about 300 lbs though my tamworth looked like they weighed half that. Book your slaughter date before you even buy the pigs. The people I use are booked solid through Feb.

As for that 600lb boar - don't do that on your first attempt raising pigs. 6 months and done, then reassess.

Jim Lea wrote:Cj. You mentioned 10 mile. Is this a brand or can they be run that distance? If it is not a brand do either of you have experience with a company you would buy from again?
Jim
 
Jim Lea
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Thanks CJ for your advice. I love this form of media. How on earth would I have ever met you and Walter otherwise. Good stuff.
Jim
 
Jim Lea
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Sorry Walter I missed your links for fencing on the first read through. All this is done on a phone. We are off grid. Some times it has its trials.
My thumbs are the age of a thirteen year old though.
Jim
 
Walter Jeffries
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Jim Lea wrote:Do you ship piglets? When the time comes. Sounds like you have bread in some desirable traits.


We don't ship live animals. I've read off to many horror stories and had too many non-live animal packages delayed or lost to want to risk an animal's life in shipping.
 
Cj Sloane
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Around here, people selling piglets post on Craig's list. You could ask around at the farmers market.
 
Jim Lea
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Hey fellas,
Would either of you venture a guess at how much water a pig uses per day? Minus a waller? I know, kind of a crazy question. But. We will be punching a well. With an orchard, pigs, other livestock... it adds up. I don't want to under estimate the diameter and wish we had gone bigger or deeper.
I was astounded at what a neighbor said her steer used per day. She is a loon, but maybe she was accurate with her 100 gals per day statement?
A bit of homework now will pay dividends later.
Jim
 
Cj Sloane
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She is a loon and off by a factor of 10.
Outside temperature and animal size will determine how much water a steer will drink each day. A l000-pound animal will drink about nine gallons of water per day when the outside temperature is 50 F. However, the same animal will drink approximately 18 gallons of water per day when the outside temperature is 90 F. The size of the water tank or trough will depend upon the number of animals.


ps I'm not a fella
 
Walter Jeffries
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Jim Lea wrote:Hey fellas,
Would either of you venture a guess at how much water a pig uses per day? Minus a waller? I know, kind of a crazy question. But. We will be punching a well. With an orchard, pigs, other livestock... it adds up. I don't want to under estimate the diameter and wish we had gone bigger or deeper.
I was astounded at what a neighbor said her steer used per day. She is a loon, but maybe she was accurate with her 100 gals per day statement?
A bit of homework now will pay dividends later.
Jim


From a blog post on this topic:

"My previous records from rare times that I got to actually measure things show that the pigs drink about 3.5 gallons of whey per hundred weight of pig per day and eat about 0.8 lbs of hay per hundred weight of pig per day. Thus they’re drinking about 0.72 gallons of water per hundred weight in addition to the whey. This in turn means that a big sow may be drinking 17 to 35 gallons of fluid a day. There is some variation with season since how much water is in their forages varies and bigger pigs are more efficient at eating courser fibers."

See the complete post:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2012/06/17/all-the-whey-in-the-world/

Cheers,

-Walter
Who is a fella but wouldn't care one whit if you had said ladies or gals since the sex of the group is irrelevant.
 
Jim Lea
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Wooops. Sorry CJ my best friends name is CJ. I just assumed.
Been a while, got real busy building a closed in patio before cold weather and wind set in.
Take care,

Jim
 
Jim Lea
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Oh I forgot. A couple weeks ago I toured a micro brewery. The owner said he gives away his spent grain. I have studied making Ethenol and they mention the spent grain is okay for cattle. Any thoughts on feeding pigs the stuff? Conceivably I could get several tons a day.
Walter you got me thinking larger scale what with the whey you feed yours.
Jim
 
Walter Jeffries
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S Haze
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This is damn fine and informative thread to someone who is planning on getting some pigs!

After browsing through some of Walter's info. it looks like he's into some fermentation of feed, I saw something about yogurt for sure. Has anyone experimented with any type of fermentation of acorns or spent brewers grains? What are the potential benefits to this; better nutrition, storage for winter, etc. ? Would this be a worthwhile chore? Raking up acorns and doing some sort of ferment sounds like a lot of work but I've never thought of trying it until now. My neighbors raked up a pile, maybe five bushels, and left them out in the woods for the critters.
 
Cj Sloane
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S Haze wrote:My neighbors raked up a pile, maybe five bushels, and left them out in the woods for the critters.


LOL! Why'd they rake 'em up and leave them out for the critters? I'm sure the critters could've found them without the raking. I could totally see raking them up and then storing them so pigs wouldn't eat them all too fast.
 
S Haze
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Cj,

Sounds silly I know, not the way I would do it but I think it was to feed the deer. And they probably just didn't want them in their yard too.
 
Walter Jeffries
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S Haze wrote:This is damn fine and informative thread to someone who is planning on getting some pigs!

After browsing through some of Walter's info. it looks like he's into some fermentation of feed, I saw something about yogurt for sure. Has anyone experimented with any type of fermentation of acorns or spent brewers grains? What are the potential benefits to this; better nutrition, storage for winter, etc. ? Would this be a worthwhile chore? Raking up acorns and doing some sort of ferment sounds like a lot of work but I've never thought of trying it until now. My neighbors raked up a pile, maybe five bushels, and left them out in the woods for the critters.


I hadn't thought of it in terms of fermenting but you're right, we do quite a bit of fermenting. Yogurt and other dairy, hay, using the whey's pH, etc. Another trick we use is freezing. This works in our climate. Tubers such as sunchokes, potatoes, turnips, radishes, etc are tougher to digest and sometimes have problem chemicals in them but after fermenting or freezing/thawing they become much more digestible. Pumpkins and Hubbard squash are another thing that gets the benefit of this treatment. We take advantage of this in our fall and early winter as we transition from warm pastures to snow pack.

Cheers,

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/
 
Cj Sloane
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If you have to harvest acorns by hand, what's the best way? I mean, if the oak is in a grassy area, does it make sense to weed whack around it before the acorns start dropping? Do they tend to drop before the leaf fall, or after?
 
Ginger Keenan
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CJ, try this:
http://www.holtsnutwizard.biz/
 
Lorenzo Costa
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Ginger Keenan, great idea really simple, that's how it is usually: the simplest ideas are the most obvious and the less thought of. I guess one can even build with DIY project.
 
Cj Sloane
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That does look great. I supposed it would pick up most of the nuts in the crazy ledgy area where I've found lots of Oaks.
Thanks.
 
S Haze
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Just wanted to share an observation about my first batch of 4 pigs and acorns.

My son has been bringing them feed and before the acorn drop began and as they grew they were up to about 2 five gallon buckets of feed per day. It started piling up in the feeder so he cut back to 1 bucket a day. Still piling up, so he cut back even more to around half a bucket every day and I think the poultry and waterfowl are eating a good share of this.

I love oak trees!
 
Cj Sloane
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Today was the best so far for Acorn foraging - Maybe 10 lbs total. Filled up this pail in about an hour:

It would've taken less time but I didn't know exactly where the trees were. I had read that for Red Oaks the best producers are about 20" diameter & that has turned out to be true. I found some much larger ones that didn't yield as much, at least this year anyway. On top of that they were at the edge of a very steep slope.

Anyway, you'll notice some really nice Acorns in the middle of that pail. On the way back from my foraging, I checked a smallish Oak (10") right in front of the house that I was going to cut down this year but didn't. I've been holding off cutting this Oak for 3 years because it hadn't yielded enough to keep it up until now! It's not really going to yield that many Acorns but the ones I'm seeing look great. Maybe because it's not shaded at all.
 
Ginger Keenan
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A trick I use, and have taught my young sons, is to look up in the sky in feb/march.

Our red oaks take two yrs to make a batch of acorns, so you can SEE the heavy baring trees before leaf out. I obsessivley scan tree tops as I walk, snowshoe, drive my car (bad idea I know).

The funny thing is I am VERY aware of the red oak trees, how to harest, store, prepare the meats and yet I don't have a compelling need at this time to act on that knowledge. I do have it in my skill set and I see it as an opportunity to live in abundance should a decentralization event occur.

Fat AND protein with very minimal effort. Stores without refridgeration. Livestock food for my heritage turkeys. And before snow fall, I am actively looking to aquire 2-3 breeder Tamworth piglets in central NH. ( always looking leads if you have any

I am excited about having the PIGS harest the acorns. I do not know if the tannins are distasteful (or worse) for the pigs eating unleached red acorns. Does anyone have experience with that?

One last tip... To Learn more about increasing your acorn harvest, I have learned a lot from deer hunting websites that cover increasing your mast production. Red oaks REALLY start to Produce in the 80-120 yr age range.
 
Cj Sloane
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Ginger Keenan wrote:...you can SEE the heavy baring trees before leaf out.
...
And before snow fall, I am actively looking to aquire 2-3 breeder Tamworth piglets in central NH. ( always looking leads if you have any

I am excited about having the PIGS harest the acorns. I do not know if the tannins are distasteful (or worse) for the pigs eating unleached red acorns. Does anyone have experience with that?

One last tip... To Learn more about increasing your acorn harvest, I have learned a lot from deer hunting websites that cover increasing your mast production. Red oaks REALLY start to Produce in the 80-120 yr age range.


That's a good tip, I will have to try looking for the acorns in Feb but first I have to find all the Oaks which are randomly spread out over the property. They are so spread out I'm not sure it's worth trying to move the pigs to each location and providing water would be tricky. There are a ton of saplings coming up in ledgy spot but they're not producing yet.

The only tip I've read about increasing acorn production is from Tree Crops, which suggests you girdle 1/8” line in July for a big harvest the next year. Hope that works with Red Oaks. Oh yeah, and thinning the area so that light hits every branch.

If you know of more tips, please post them here!
 
Cj Sloane
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Ginger Keenan wrote:I do not know if the tannins are distasteful (or worse) for the pigs eating unleached red acorns. Does anyone have experience with that?


I've read conflicting info about this but the pigs are eating the acorns for sure. I suspect the tannins help keep parasite loads down. The famous acorn finished pork from Spain/Portugal is from white oak which have less tannin.

From Tree Crops:
In America, acorn-fed hogs bring lower prices in the wholesale
market because they have soft flesh. Is this a permanent
handicap? I doubt it, if the problem is studied in a scientific
way. In the first place, acorn-fed pork has fine (perhaps finer)
flavor. For local consumption the meat (acorn-fed hogs) is satisfactory.
If the lard is liquid instead of solid, what is the difference?
One kind may go into a can while the other goes into
a carton. Its meat drips; if so, the drip is good lard. Perhaps
it needs to be subjected to some process such as 120° F for
a stated period to force and finish the dripping. This reduction
of the fat might make bacon better. It is certainly no handicap
to animals on a maintenance ration. "It might be stated his
hogs would not eat corn in quantity until the acorns were gone."
(J. C. Holmes, The Country Gentleman) December 13, 1913,
p. 1822.
 
Denis Huel
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Soft fat = Healthier fat.

The local Bur oaks have a heavy acorn crop this year. They rarely miss a year but this year is heavier than typical. I picked 25 lbs on the weekend for planting. May pick a few more to try and eat.
 
Ginger Keenan
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PLEASE don't girdle the trees. Work with nature when you can. I'll look for those articles again so I can post links.

I have zero experience with pigs, but I do go for walks in the forest with my turkeys so they can gleen bugs and critters. They follow me like I'm their mom. Might take the pigs for a walk to the acorn tree and then lure them home with apple wedges. Bring a thermos for yourself and enjoy nature for a couple of hours. I guess it really depends on your relationship with the pig.

Find your oak trees as the leaves turn color and fall. You'll noice their leaves on the ground and then look up to see where they came from. Nice, pleasant, relaxing walk in the woods in autumn. . The oaks do also stand out in winter with their miniature acorns. You need to look before the birch catkins come out.
 
Scott Strough
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Ginger Keenan wrote:

I am excited about having the PIGS harest the acorns. I do not know if the tannins are distasteful (or worse) for the pigs eating unleached red acorns. Does anyone have experience with that?
Doesn't hurt the pigs at all, just the opposite. Makes them fat and happy. Also makes the pork MUCH tastier.
 
Cj Sloane
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Ginger Keenan wrote:PLEASE don't girdle the trees. Work with nature when you can.


The girdling isn't meant to kill them, just stress them to put them into reproductive overdrive. I will try it on an 8" tree that needs to come down anyway. Meanwhile, the 3 Oaks that I pollarded this spring seem to have first year acorns on the new shoots which is quite a surprise. I haven't read anything to indicate that would happen but if those acorns mature, collecting the acorns would be much easier.
 
Ginger Keenan
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Wow!!! Seriously! The acorns are forming on the shoots Fantastic. I did NOT expect that. I will better watch my oak stumps.
 
Cj Sloane
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bee chicken fungi solar trees
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Are these the beginnings of red oak acorns?


When I took that pic I looked at the tree that finally started producing and guess what I saw?

The chain for the paddock gate is girdling the tree! That could explain the shoots I saw coming off that tree which wasn't pollarded.

Now I've got to try to get it out of there but I think I'll wait till it goes dormant.
 
Cj Sloane
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Ginger Keenan wrote:Livestock food for my heritage turkeys.


Ginger, do you crack the acorns for your turkeys?
 
Ginger Keenan
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They eat the ones that get run over in the driveway . I do have the Davebuilt nutcracker that I plan to use after I dry some this year.
 
kyle meinert
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Anyone still on this thread. I only ask as I too just got 2 red waddle/berkshire crossed weiner barrows. They seem to only be eating the acorns and really will only munch the food if i leave the bucket in there. I guess they are just too content with the half acre of giant white and red oaks with three inches of acorns. I have a few questions. Firstly, should i be concerned they just want acorns? Secondly, we have a little over a half acre fenced off with electric wire inside an out of a field fence. Will this be a sufficient area? Also is there some do not feed stuff for pigs? I am asking because living in the city i have access to tons of grocery store and bakery waste.
 
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