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What do you use for their bedding?

 
Kevin MacBearach
Posts: 213
Location: Beavercreek, Oregon
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Do they even need bedding?
 
Andrew Schreiber
Posts: 208
Location: Zone 6a, Wahkiacus, WA
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forest garden goat hugelkultur toxin-ectomy trees woodworking
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depending on the season we may or may not use bedding. We have our pigs (amaerican guinea hogs) in an intensive rotational grazing situation in the spring/early summer/fall. We have various forms of portable shade/rain shelters for the pigs we move around. because the weather is fair and we move them so often we do not lay down any bedding during these periods.

in the winter we lay down wheat straw (because it is cheap and readily available) and then feed them alfalfa (dried hay) inside their pen. The alfalfa strawbits then add to the bedding.

We also have a wood chipper that we use to condense branch material we feed to goats/sheep/pigs (conifer and oak) the woodchips are primarily used for running a gassifier, but we also use some for chicken and animal bedding. The pigs like the woodchips because it provides a lot of habitat for insects which they love to find and eat. this is particularly true if we lay down wood chips a few months before the pigs use the pen.

 
Walter Jeffries
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Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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In the warm months we don't provide bedding as the pigs are sleeping out in the paddocks. We do managed rotational grazing aka intensive rotational grazing. In the winter months we provide hay and wood chips, sawdust or wood shavings. Hay is best since they also eat that. Chopped brush they will also eat. I just got a load of 12.5 tons of that. The wood is particularly good as the base of the deep bedding pack.

Cheers,

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/

Edit: fixed 12.6 to read 12.5. Typo.
 
Andrew Schreiber
Posts: 208
Location: Zone 6a, Wahkiacus, WA
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forest garden goat hugelkultur toxin-ectomy trees woodworking
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Walter Jeffries wrote:In the warm months we don't provide bedding as the pigs are sleeping out in the paddocks. We do managed rotational grazing aka intensive rotational grazing. In the winter months we provide hay and wood chips, sawdust or wood shavings. Hay is best since they also eat that. Chopped brush they will also eat. I just got a load of 12.6 tons of that. The wood is particularly good as the base of the deep bedding pack.
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I am consistently pleased with the clarity with which you present information about your work. Thank you!
 
Renate Howard
pollinator
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Location: zone 6b
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On pasture our pigs would pick tall grass and carry it to the shelter to make beds with. I felt bad moving their shelter because of all the work they put into it so I started leaving it in the center of their range and moving the paddock to include it until there were no "sides" to the shelter area left for them to graze, then moved the shelter again to the middle of a new area. This also helped them keep a wallow for longer and prevented so many holes in the pasture from the need to make new wallows every few days. Now they have a permanent paddock system (that I've yet to use because the grass STILL hasn't come in!) where their shelter, mud wallow, and food/water area will be the same but they will have access to different paddocks by me opening/closing cattle panel "gates".
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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I often recommend people try a nine-square or Tic-Tac-Toe board setup where the field is divided into nine paddocks. The outer perimeter fencing is strong to keep out predators and in livestock. The center paddock is home and this can be made much smaller than the grazing paddocks. In the home square goes the housing, wallow, water, give any supplemental feed _in_the_evening_.

Then the livestock range out to the paddocks circling the home during the day. This gives a double fence for protection as well as making for very easy managed rotational grazing. To move the stock, simply close off the current grazing paddock in the evening and open the next one. The paddocks will improve over time. An additional trick that works very well with this is to mob seed in the last day or two that the animals are on a paddock. This allows one to adjust the mix of grasses, legumes and other forages. Fast growing foods like beets, turnips, kale, rape and such can be grown for the animals when they get around to that paddock again.

All the paddocks are well rested in the grazing cycle which helps with the parasite life cycle breaking. This does not rest the center paddock for that year so one might think that would be a parasite problem but I have not found that to be the case.

In the new year the home paddock will be richer and good for growing a longer season crop for the livestock. By using temporary fencing it is fairly easy to shift all the paddocks slightly in the spring so that a new home paddock is formed and the stock kept of the garden paddock which was the old home. If you wish to do it with permanent fencing in the interior paddocks then simply setup multiple home paddocks and those are gardens in the alternative years. This is a good, sustainable permaculture style arrangement.

Cheers,

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/
 
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