It's time to clean up the June drops and thin the apples on the trees. I've been giving the pigs a 2 gallon bucket a day, these are very unripe apples but they eat them with relish. I'm worried if I feed them too many it could make them sick, tho. Is there a limit to how many I should feed them a day? I've got pot belly pigs (AKA Asian Heritage Hogs) - 2 adults weigh 120 lbs each, 4 juveniles around 60lbs, and 5 little babies.
We have around 400 pigs on pasture. We pickup as much as 3,000 lbs of apple pomace (pressings from making cider) time to time and feed it out over a couple of days. They are each only getting a little bit, perhaps 4 lbs per hundred weight of pig but I'm sure some hog the table and get a lot more than that. They clean it up and I've never seen a problem. The apple is a small part of their diet. They're mostly eating pasture and drinking whey.
I'm kind of surprised at the amount of food I'm getting from the apple trees for the pigs. Granted, the trees are mature, but every day for a couple weeks now I've been pulling off apples and picking up drops, and there are still more on the other two trees I've yet to thin. As time goes by the apples are getting bigger now too so it takes just 20 min or so to fill the 2 gallon bucket. I'm pulling off all the ones with bug bites, leaving 1 every 3 inches for now and will thin again to 1 every 6 inches when I've given them all a once-over. I'm not decreasing their other feed, but they're down to 4 cups of oats, soaked, twice a day for the group - 1 sow and 4 large juveniles (the lactating sow gets all-you-can eat feed for now).
I'm reading that if you eliminate all the apples that have bugs in them, the next year you can drop the number of bug bites up to 90%! So I'm hoping by feeding all the bitten apples to the pigs, next year's will be really nice. I don't spray my trees.
Renate Haeckler wrote:I'm reading that if you eliminate all the apples that have bugs in them, the next year you can drop the number of bug bites up to 90%! So I'm hoping by feeding all the bitten apples to the pigs, next year's will be really nice. I don't spray my trees.
Renate, do you run chickens under your apple trees? We find that the chickens virtually eliminate the bugs and the apples are clear. Running the pigs, even piglets, under the trees works to keep down the grass and eat up the drops. Geese are good in there too. The trees need some protection from larger animals such as roaster pigs, sheep, etc. Like you, we don't spray. Chickens are our big solution to pests.
Our chickens are free range. They can go under the fruit trees, and one pair of OEG's roosts in one of them, but they don't make much of a dent on the population of insects biting the apples so far (tho they've cut the number of horseflies WAAAAAY down!)
I think next year I'll put a permanent fence around the orchard and move some pigs there for part of the year. Maybe raise some turkeys in that area too, since it's far from where the wild turkeys come.
I have a sow, hoping for piglets soon. I want to finish the piglets on apples. Have you found a limit to the amount of apples you can feed them? We grow our own oats and roll them for the chickens and our sow. She is on pasture so she is free to choose what she eats. Is it possible that the pigs will only eat what they want and so not become ill from over eating apples?