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Using reinforced / Steel mesh to protect pasture

 
Annie Hope
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Hi,

We gave just got two pigs which are exceeding all expectations as rotary hoes, but are proving extremely false the statement that they will only root when they haven away all the fresh grass in the paddock. In our flat sandy soil, they can rip up large hunks of turf over several hundred square feet randomly all over the place in an afternoon.

We are trying to find an alternative to either putting a ring in their nose (not accepted organic practice) or confining them to a small pen that they have turned to mud in a week when they are not needed for digging duty. We have 8 acres already divided into 10 paddocks, and we want to rotate them round them round these paddocks, with sheep/goats following half a rotation later..
We want to put in a permanent food forest, and also "fodder gardens" where we grow root crops for them to root out, but we will always want a good part of it to be pasture that stays pasture.
They move easily from their pen to a portable electric net fence, and we were wondering about strip feeding them in square blocks of 4-5m sides, which have reinforced / concrete / steel mesh (seems to have multiple names) laid on the ground so that they can graze the grass through it, but not rip up the grass. Has anyone tried this? does it work - not work? We would put it down and take it up within a few days, so it would not have a chance for the grass to grow it in, and make it hard to remove. The only negative possibility we can see is if the pigs hurt their feet if they walk on the wire and it goes between their hooves.

Annie
 
Cj Sloane
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Annie Hope wrote:
We want to put in a permanent food forest, and also "fodder gardens" where we grow root crops for them to root out, but we will always want a good part of it to be pasture that stays pasture.


I don't think the fencing/mesh on the ground will work - the pigs will probably enjoy the challenge.

I think you will have to fence off the food forest from the pigs. This may mean a multi-year process to get it established. I'm planting productive trees & crops just outside my fenced in paddocks so that the fruit/nuts will ripen and then fall into the paddock.
 
Annie Hope
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Hi,

We will be fencing off the food forest part as well (mainly from the goats) so that fruit falls, but the trunk or main vine is not in access, but we also need a way to protect our grass itself from the pigs.

Why do you think the steel mesh would not work? (T Do you think they would chew through the bars, or lift the whole thing up and shake it away?

It would be this type of thing, which is almost 17ft by 7 ft.

http://www.trademe.co.nz/building-renovation/building-supplies/other/auction-583437265.htm

Annie
 
Cj Sloane
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Annie Hope wrote:
lift the whole thing up and shake it away?


It does depend on how rambunctious the pigs are.
 
R Scott
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They can rip through that stuff if they are motivated or bored. Truffles and grubs are powerful motivations.

Maybe the heavier cattle panels, but still they can toss them if they can get their noses under a corner.
 
Chris Kott
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Hi Annie,

I have to agree with the consensus regarding the mesh on the ground. As to the randomness of their rooting, I think you're wrong there. I think they are pursuing something specific, probably the grubs or truffles that R Scott mentioned.

With that in mind, I was wondering specifically what type of grub. If you could find that out, and then replicate the best environment for said grubs, but in piles of, say, rotted wood, forest duff, and compost or something, my guess would be that the pigs would go to the greatest concentrations of grub. Or if you seed your grazing strips with tubers they think are candy, maybe you can channel their rooting, and plan to seed the ground after them with a seed mix that appreciates soil disturbance. I have heard that many animals will choose variety over a steady diet of their favourite candy, so perhaps that is something to look at as well.

I am also considering paddock pasturing a few or more species in succession, one of these potentially being pigs. The solution I'm playing with is alley cropping wide pasture strips with food forest built on parallel hugelbeets (on contour, E-W orientation). The food forest strips will eventually yield nut crops as well as fruit, both of which will drop food into the pasture, which will be kept clear of seedlings by goats. I figure that strategic slope planting and steepness, and probably a mobile electric paddock, will keep the livestock from climbing up and destroying the food forest, and so that safe zone is probably a good place to let tuber plants go to seed to make baby tuber plants down in the pasture.

So down on the pasture surface, I think the best you'll get from your mesh idea is perhaps a really good youtube video of pig antics. Might be worth a watch. But a really hot electric fence setup is the only thing pigs respect.

-CK
 
Walter Jeffries
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Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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Annie Hope wrote:We gave just got two pigs which are exceeding all expectations as rotary hoes, but are proving extremely false the statement that they will only root when they haven away all the fresh grass in the paddock.


It is a lot more complicated than you are either understanding or presenting. See:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2011/10/03/rootless-in-vermont/

We have hundreds of pigs at a time and thousands over the years. Our pigs graze primarily and root little. See the above article for factors that encourage or discourage one or the other.

They move easily from their pen to a portable electric net fence, and we were wondering about strip feeding them in square blocks of 4-5m sides, which have reinforced / concrete / steel mesh (seems to have multiple names) laid on the ground so that they can graze the grass through it, but not rip up the grass.


That mesh is not very strong at the welds - I use it a lot in construction. It is meant for tensile strengths so the welds are just strong enough to hold it together while setting it in concrete. The pigs will trash it, easily.

The Welded Wire Mesh (WWM) as it is called here can also cause cuts and infections. The rusted metal harbors bacteria nicely and the sharp points injects it deeply.
 
Cj Sloane
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Walter Jeffries wrote:
It is a lot more complicated than you are either understanding or presenting.


Walter, this reads as less than nice.
 
Renate Howard
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Are you really attached to the particular pigs you have? I'm wondering because some of the smaller breeds won't be able to root as deeply (IMHO), and may be less trouble while you wait for your pasture to "mature" as Walter Jeffries says.

I put 2 sows and 4 piglets in my paddocks just as the grass got around 5 inches tall. I'm not seeing too much rooting, even when it rained and the ground was very soft. I see a lot of grazing and a lot of lounging around in the sun. They did discover there are worms under the kiddy pool I gave them so they tipped it up to look underneath - I don't think it will last long with that kind of abuse - they somehow turned it inside out in about 15 minutes.

How long is your rotation? I'm keeping mine in each paddock for a week, so it's a month before they return again. I'm trying planting peas and beets in the bare patches, will try squash and corn later in the year when it's warm enough, then winter rye and barley in the fall, maybe clover too if it thins out but right now I've got a lot of clover in there. They do seem to like eating the clover. Last year I planted garlic and herbs (cilantro, mustard, etc.) where they had made bare patches. The cows LOVED grazing there - I guess the pigs added enough fertility to make the grass taste better? They even ate the garlic tops (good dewormer).
 
Walter Jeffries
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Cj Verde wrote:
Walter Jeffries wrote:
It is a lot more complicated than you are either understanding or presenting.


Walter, this reads as less than nice.


Sorry, it wasn't meant to be less than nice. How would you word it. What I'm trying to express is that it is a lot more complicated than was said. How would you say that?
 
Cj Sloane
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It is complicated.

The other way implies the other person isn't too bright or is being deceitful.

I am glad you asked though because like with the VPN issue it wasn't content people had issues with - just the delivery.

Walter Jeffries wrote:
Cj Verde wrote:
Walter Jeffries wrote:
It is a lot more complicated than you are either understanding or presenting.


Walter, this reads as less than nice.


Sorry, it wasn't meant to be less than nice. How would you word it. What I'm trying to express is that it is a lot more complicated than was said. How would you say that?
 
Kelly Smitherson
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What kind of pigs Annie?
 
Annie Hope
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Hi,

The female is a saddleback (as are her 8 new piglets). The male piglet is all black but similar breed. When we said we wanted them for digging we were advised against a kune, as they won't dig. My husband had also long wanted a pet pig, and he is not at all interested in down-grading yet. But he is also the one who is always at work or sleeping-off night duty when I deal with escaped piglets with a baby in tow.

we now have her in the breeding pen. We let her in the orchard and lure her with food to grass several inches high, but she goes and does back and digs all the short grass and mulched dirt round the chook house, probably for worms in the soil. But the chickens come right up to where she is and eat the worms she roots out, and she has made no sign of eating them for lunch, so she is not too desperate for protein.
We had noticed for a while that she was not as good at finding food we threw her as the piglet, but we saw today that her eyes seem to be totally shut. (hard to see under ears and skin flaps). Have not had time to contact the vet, but we are wondering if it could be this:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1695193/pdf/canvetj00542-0037.pdf The blindness may contribute to her rooting a lot but not actually finding and grabbing the worms she roots, but I would have thought she could do this by smell. When we can breed them up more, i am wondering about having box of compost worms they can root through and eat at will.

Annie
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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