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planning: feed for larger herd

 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
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Location: Oregon
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Big Pig and the Ms. (both Large Black/Tamworth cross) are about 5 months old now, getting huge and I find myself struggling to feed them as much as I'd like. They make screeching noises whenever they see me as though they're always famished, lol. A plus however is that after the morning or end of day feast they usually take a nap after getting some water, and after about an hour they're right back out in pasture! They've only eaten to fullness once, when I gave them "pig cereal" as I call it which is 1.5 gallons of goats milk, about 4 cups of pig grower, topped with a 5 gallon bucket and stuffed with fruit/veggie compost and bread (my kitchen scraps minus the meat and scraps I get from a local kitchen, clean/fresh fruit/veggie/bread/pasta stuff, they even keep it refrigerated). Nowadays I provide this kind of feeding twice a day/morning and night. Between Big Pig and Ms. gilt, the 50lbs of scraps I get during the weekday is gone by Saturday. Now I would like to increase to a real herd once we get the forest better fenced, but I'm not sure the 7 or so acres forest will sustain 5+ without me having to pour on the grain. Is there a way to estimate how many happy pigs I could successfully raise year round? My goal is to provide a quality, local heritage meat while improving an endangered breed, but I would like to get all the basics down first. Any advice greatly appreciated.
 
Adam Klaus
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I feel your pain with the feed bill. No easy solutions there.

It seems to me, IMHE, that pigs are ecologically suited to moist climates. Like the Southern and Eastern US, where forest means a totally different thing that anywhere west of the Mississippi River. Our 'forests' lack the moisture to generate the productivity that could actually grow and sustain pigs. Not enough bugs and grubs in the arid west. We can range our pigs in our forests, and the pigs enjoy it, but certainly cannot eat enough there to constitute more than a supplement. So we get stuck feeding high value milk, or expensive grain feeds. It is a losing proposition. Its a game I have already lost, and given up on for now.

I have lush irrigated clover pastures, and native oak woodlands on my small farm. Nevertheless, pork is the most expensive meat I have raised. In terms of cost to produce a pound of table meat, I have found that grass fed beef is cheapest, then chicken, then rainbow trout, then turkey, and pigs last of all. I dont raise pigs or turkeys anymore. In a different region of the world, this order would certainly be different, even potentially reversed completely. The key to good farming is fitting the the species to the environment. It is cheap to raise some things some places, and expensive in others. That's why books can be so frustrating and deceptive, their advice might be great in their region but irrelevant in another.

What are the ecological assets on your farm that you can play towards? That is the path to a solution...
 
Bob Blackmer
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Location: East Greenwich, Rhode Island
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The important thing really is that they are still growing and don't look sunken or thin. Back in the day, they say pigs were set loose and fed a bit of corn each week or so just so keep them around when it came time to fatten in the fall. They don't grow as fast as they would on full feed but they still grow.

There are a few things to consider here. I have found, to spread out your costs its good to feed them smaller amounts twice a day. I have read what ever they will clean up in 20-30 minutes each feeding will keep them growing well. Keep in mind they will suck down a mash, or your "pig cereal", a lot faster than it take them to chew up pelleted feed or whole corn. Another thing that happens with this is just what you said they eat and then nap. We are omnivores just like pigs. Imagine what happens if we eat twice a day and then nap after, as opposed to eating small meals through out the day. We would get large fast. I'm not sure this could be called whats know as compensatory gain, but its a similar idea. Your pigs should be excited to see you at feeding but not overly excited.

Its important to consider protein content of what ever you feed them. That's what keeps them growing. A store bought complete pig ration will range from 16% to 20% protein. This winter I successfully kept a few pigs growing on 50% oats and 50% corn as well as scraps. This gave me about 16% protein and saved me about $5 per 100 lbs, compared to a complete feed. Not much but its something. I will point out that I intended these to be breeders, so I didn't want them to get fat young anyway. Scraps and such are great for vitamins and minerals, and I like using "waste" to make bacon!

Keeping breeders can get expensive. I would consider finding feed in bulk if possible, by the ton. It will save you at least a couple of hundred dollars a year. That being said selling registered piglets, as breeders, can be very profitable.

Lastly get your pigs in the woods ASAP. I don't know what you have for a forest, but regardless, it will reduce your feed costs some. I would recommend dividing it into smaller paddocks, 1/2 or even 1/4 acre. This will allow each paddock plenty of time to regenerate and eventually increase the carrying capacity of the land.

I hope this and my other post on your other thread help some.
 
R Scott
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I listened to a podcast with someone (I think it was Mark Shepard from Restoration Ag, but not sure) that said he fed them basically survival ration--it was only a cup and a half of feed (or maybe 3, twice a day). He fed them that much from weaned until slaughter. It was enough to keep them from losing weight in most conditions, and any additional was from foraging.

We had a source for whey, but unfortunately it was heavy in the summer and non-existent in the winter. Couldn't feed it fast enough in the summer, but they didn't really need it on pasture; and it pretty much stopped about the same time the acorns got cleaned up so we had to feed the winter or they lost weight. I wanted to get it figured out how to time farrowing so we would feed them young and they would fatten out on free feed, but got tired of fixing fence.
 
Walter Jeffries
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I would suggest pasturing them during the day and then only feeding any additional supplement in the late afternoon or evening. This way they fill up on pasture which is essentially free, you pay the real estates taxes either way. It will take them time to get used to this pattern.

It takes time to improve the pasture. Look what you can plant that is right for your climate. Kentucky Bluegrass is a good grass. Lots of different types of clover, alfalfa, trefoil, brassicas, rape, sunchokes, pumpkins, sunflowers, beets, turnips are some of the things we plant on our 70 acres of pasture. Annuals like the pumpkins are concentrated in the winter paddocks. Brassicas, legumes and such are summer pastures. We use managed rotational grazing with our ~400 pigs and we buy no commercial feed for them. In addition to the pasture we give dairy, primarily whey, a little bit of spent barley (would love more), apple pomace in season (crushed apples from cider making), etc. See:

http://SugarMtnFarm.com/pigs

This keeps the cost of feed to a minimum. The piglet, feed and processing are the three primary costs of getting a pig to the table and about evenly divided between those.

I figure about 10 pigs per acre is sustainable on our pastures. That will vary with your soils, pasture quality and any supplemental feed. See:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2007/10/12/how-much-land-per-pig/

and

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2005/08/31/keeping-a-pig-for-meat/

We do raise them year round, delivering to stores & restaurants weekly as well as to individual customers. Winter is a LOT harder than the warm months here in the mountains of northern Vermont. This will vary greatly with climate.

Grow slowly and aim for quality, let that be your niche.
 
John Polk
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I would like to make a couple points here.

First, neither the Large Black, nor the Tamworth are 'endangered species'. Truly, neither are nearly as common as they were at one time, but not what I would call endangered. A cross between them is not a breed. From what I have seen, that is not too uncommon a mix...probably a good mix, taking the strengths of each. But basically, a barnyard 'mutt'. And, there is nothing 'wrong' with a mutt. Just don't expect to get top dollar for 'breeding stock' out of a barnyard mix.

Secondly, if you are struggling to keep them fed now, you better find an answer before they breed. Once she is pregnant, her feed/nutrition requirements will soar upwards. It will not diminish until they are weaned. At that point, you will have a dozen or so to feed (or sell/slaughter). If proper nutrition is a concern now, I feel that it is unwise to even consider breeding. The nutrition requirements of a breeding stock are much higher than those of maintenance/market stock.

I wish you all of the luck in your endeavor. We need more small scale breeders to help supply a growing demand for something better than 'factory pigs'.


 
mike clark
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just get simple.old produce,bread and bakery goods,i get dairy grain screenings for half of grain prices.past due milk products,dont be afraid to ask around.sustaing pigs on just pasture in my opinion is a myth.just look what wild pigs do to crops.most of the pork producers that would like you to belief what they feed are not telling whole truths.proof is in the pigs,try it the in way and when that fails go old school,put my pork up against anyones,most important my friends and family love it.and I can sleep good telling whole truths.best of luck.
 
Walter Jeffries
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Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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mike clark wrote:sustaing pigs on just pasture in my opinion is a myth


It is no myth and it is not a matter of opinion. It is a matter of skill, breeding, pasture quality and management. I've done it repeatedly on pasture with no off farm inputs. On just pasture the pigs grow a little slower by a few months and a bit leaner but they grow fine and taste delicious.

Adding some extras like 'waste' dairy and such brings the growth right up to like on grain.

We have about 400 pigs on pasture and sell weekly to local stores, restaurants & individuals. We buy no commercial hog feeds/grain. The vast majority of their feed comes from our pastures.
 
chad stamps
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I'm not raising grain free pigs yet, but I'm increasingly sure that it's very much possible from my own observations. Even if I wasn't, Walter has tons of documentation showing exactly how he's doing it.

While working towards that goal, there are several other feeds I'm relying on in addition to what they get from the grain and the pasture itself. I have an agreement with a local goat dairy and I get about 100 gallons of whey every week for most of the year. I've also found that many orchards will let you have as many windfall apples as you like if you are willing to schedule it with them and take away enough to make it worth letting you drive a truck/trailer into the orchard. Pumpkin patches will often let you haul away as many as you like after October - bonus, you'll end up wit volunteers throughout the pasture from these after you feed them to your pigs or sheep. I know several people who bag up acorns to be hauled away - if they are a family who doesn't use lawn chemicals they are often willing to let me take them instead. I also work with a guy who sells acorns to the state DNR and I buy some of his extras. I've recently begun bringing in spend brewers grain from a local brewpub as well.

I generally try to limit any kind of grain in the last few weeks before taking a batch in - whey and apples are my favorite thing to finish with, and customers like the way that tastes and the way it sounds. I try to time batches of pigs so that I've got something good available to finish them on.
 
mike clark
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agree to disagree,thats all.saying pasture raised and filling pigs full of whey,which is waste,apple squeezing waste and saying pasture raised is a way to get people that don't raise hogs to buy pork,period.jacks up prices of meat,piglets and so on.thats business and I wish everyone on here success.i see it all the time at farmers markets and so on,"pasture raised".my eight are on an acre,woods really and they love it.to me the most important thing you can give a pig for quality meat is to raise them to be content ,happy animals.and as far as not buying commercial grain I think that's great.but trucking in waste {in my opinion which is great}and saying pasture raised leaves a bad taste for me.not an attack on anyone,just been seeing pasture raised throw around a lot and would like people to realize pasture raised isn't the whole deal.people new to raising pigs need realistic help.my 2cents.
 
chad stamps
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I agree people need useful information when starting out Mike - and I agree about happy pigs being important, and that not all 'pastured pigs' are the same.

As far as the rest...I'm glad I didn't talk to you before I got into pigs or I might have believed you about all that 'waste'.
 
mike clark
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I have never used whey,but I would,and I do feed out apple squezings.never said I didn't,i did say however that I believe you cant say one thing and do another.pasture raised was first used as a selling point to show your pigs could range,thus showing a healthy happy hog.i believe in that whole hog,pun intended.i think as a marketing scheme to jack up prices for people that don't realize that the pigs are being fed out a ton of other non pasture food is fraud.just be honest,it works great and people will respect your business.you may not agree with everything I say and its just my opinion,but I don't sugar coat things for my benefit.and if you had asked me when you started raising pigs I would say to balance cost with what you can afford.
 
Renate Howard
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I've got pot belly pigs, AKA "Asian Heritage Hogs" when you plan to eat them.

Mine will devour clover, and even with my current paddock rotation, the clover can't grow fast enough to keep them all happy, so I guess they'd need larger paddocks than what I have. I'm giving mine about 4 cups of soaked oats a day per adult-sized (or nearly adult-sized) pig, plus all the grass they can graze. On less than that they lose weight, or the nursing mothers do at any rate. When you feed the herd, they all eat as much as they can until the food is gone, so the mothers, with the highest nutritional needs, get the least food per bodyweight while the babies get the most. It makes the moms pretty skinny by weaning time. But after I wean the babies they gain it all back pretty quickly.

I was just doing some math - I go through 1 50# bag of oats a week with mine - 3 mature sows, 1 boar, 2 around 9 months (ready to slaughter but the temps are too high so we're waiting), 2 @ 4 months and 11 little babies.

The adults are the most expensive to feed, using about 10 bags of oats per year, each. I need to cull, hard, LOL because that's where my $$ is going.

The babies eat no food the first 2 weeks, a negligible amount the next couple as they're still living off of milk mostly. If you average their eating up to 9 months where they eat the same as an adult, it comes out to just 3 bags of oats to grow them from newborn to adult. At $22/bag that's only $66 per pig but mine are pot bellies so they only give around 50lbs of meat each. Still, close to $1/lb for pasture-raised, non-GMO fed isn't too bad, unless you add in the costs of keeping the parents, that is. Of course you can sell extra offspring - around here the prices vary by color - pretty ones can easily go for $50 each but the plain ones are hard to get rid of. Every week you have unsold piglets costs you to feed them and as time goes by the price goes up with the increasing amount they eat.

I just read an average apple tree gives 480lbs of fruit a year. It lacks protein so it can't be a total pig ration but it sure does give calories and other nutrients to help supplement their diets. I tried planting a couple apple seedlings in the pig paddocks, and they really like the foliage - they broke down the protective fence and ate all the leaves off of one of them, haven't discovered the other one yet. And they're not starving, their pasture is lush with grass and some weeds. All summer mine are getting a bucketful of apple thinnings/drops per day in addition to their oats and pasture.
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
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Location: Oregon
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Adam Klaus wrote:I feel your pain with the feed bill. No easy solutions there.

It seems to me, IMHE, that pigs are ecologically suited to moist climates. Like the Southern and Eastern US, where forest means a totally different thing that anywhere west of the Mississippi River. Our 'forests' lack the moisture to generate the productivity that could actually grow and sustain pigs. Not enough bugs and grubs in the arid west. We can range our pigs in our forests, and the pigs enjoy it, but certainly cannot eat enough there to constitute more than a supplement. So we get stuck feeding high value milk, or expensive grain feeds. It is a losing proposition. Its a game I have already lost, and given up on for now.

I have lush irrigated clover pastures, and native oak woodlands on my small farm. Nevertheless, pork is the most expensive meat I have raised. In terms of cost to produce a pound of table meat, I have found that grass fed beef is cheapest, then chicken, then rainbow trout, then turkey, and pigs last of all. I dont raise pigs or turkeys anymore. In a different region of the world, this order would certainly be different, even potentially reversed completely. The key to good farming is fitting the the species to the environment. It is cheap to raise some things some places, and expensive in others. That's why books can be so frustrating and deceptive, their advice might be great in their region but irrelevant in another.

What are the ecological assets on your farm that you can play towards? That is the path to a solution...


Surprised that pork is more expensive than chickens, for us here in 7b it's been the more cost effective option, chickens the most expensive. A lot of that is due to learning experience this year..
We got red rangers from a hatchery
Predators got a lot of our birds
The feed, could have sourced in bulk, perhaps directly from a grain miller
Definitely keeping the layers around, as they are free range they've been excellent foragers.
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
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The important thing really is that they are still growing and don't look sunken or thin. Back in the day, they say pigs were set loose and fed a bit of corn each week or so just so keep them around when it came time to fatten in the fall. They don't grow as fast as they would on full feed but they still grow.


This is one thing that really appealed to me, as I love history, anthropology, especially renaissance as it's a lot like the lifestyle I'd eventually like to "master" which is self reliance (as opposed to self sustaining which strikes me as shut off from community and very complicated/expensive endeavor in this day). For example in the old books on animal husbandry (titles have escaped me but if interested PM me and I'll track them down), I remember reading of pigs kept in forest, and like you said, thrown some gain now and then to keep them around. At harvest time the family/community forms a line, leading them out of forest for processing. With neighbors who have vineyards and being on a smaller property, things like that are a bit hard without proper fencing but I like practical, time tested methods like this.


There are a few things to consider here. I have found, to spread out your costs its good to feed them smaller amounts twice a day. I have read what ever they will clean up in 20-30 minutes each feeding will keep them growing well. Keep in mind they will suck down a mash, or your "pig cereal", a lot faster than it take them to chew up pelleted feed or whole corn. Another thing that happens with this is just what you said they eat and then nap. We are omnivores just like pigs. Imagine what happens if we eat twice a day and then nap after, as opposed to eating small meals through out the day. We would get large fast. I'm not sure this could be called whats know as compensatory gain, but its a similar idea. Your pigs should be excited to see you at feeding but not overly excited.

Its important to consider protein content of what ever you feed them. That's what keeps them growing. A store bought complete pig ration will range from 16% to 20% protein. This winter I successfully kept a few pigs growing on 50% oats and 50% corn as well as scraps. This gave me about 16% protein and saved me about $5 per 100 lbs, compared to a complete feed. Not much but its something. I will point out that I intended these to be breeders, so I didn't want them to get fat young anyway. Scraps and such are great for vitamins and minerals, and I like using "waste" to make bacon!

Keeping breeders can get expensive. I would consider finding feed in bulk if possible, by the ton. It will save you at least a couple of hundred dollars a year. That being said selling registered piglets, as breeders, can be very profitable.


Thanks for these ideas, I like what you're saying, very informative. Speaking of buying by the ton, let's say corn/oats/grain, how do you store this and how long before they spoil? Lately I'm storing everything in the plastic totes, locked in a feed room, as I've found the rodents in my area will literally chew through the thickest of totes to get at the feed.

Lastly get your pigs in the woods ASAP. I don't know what you have for a forest, but regardless, it will reduce your feed costs some. I would recommend dividing it into smaller paddocks, 1/2 or even 1/4 acre. This will allow each paddock plenty of time to regenerate and eventually increase the carrying capacity of the land.


This may be worthy of another thread (or research to see if one exists).. This is my vision actually, my goal, is to have them predominately in the forest and rotating them, like the professional do! My issue is fencing really. Maybe 8.25 acres or so of fenced forest, however one side is a road and the other side, more forest between my neighbor, who has a vineyard (!!). I take them to the forest and they follow me/come when called, however they tend to venture/browse. So with fencing, what works best? I cornered off one section with polytape, but haven't gotten my solar charger yet, however now I'm thinking of going with high tensile along the critical areas as they have learned in their main area, to subvert the polytape, by listening for the "clicking" noise and/or enduring a slight shock if it means they can go where they want. I've looked at the hog netting, but does not seem this is a good solution for me because my forest is sloped at about 45degrees and the netting will definitely touch grass/trees. Any tips? Maybe just run high tensile along the crucial areas and let them roam? Call them to the bottom of hill in the evenings to give them a treat?

I hope this and my other post on your other thread help some.
Very informative Bob, thank you!
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
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Location: Oregon
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R Scott wrote:I listened to a podcast with someone (I think it was Mark Shepard from Restoration Ag, but not sure) that said he fed them basically survival ration--it was only a cup and a half of feed (or maybe 3, twice a day). He fed them that much from weaned until slaughter. It was enough to keep them from losing weight in most conditions, and any additional was from foraging.

We had a source for whey, but unfortunately it was heavy in the summer and non-existent in the winter. Couldn't feed it fast enough in the summer, but they didn't really need it on pasture; and it pretty much stopped about the same time the acorns got cleaned up so we had to feed the winter or they lost weight. I wanted to get it figured out how to time farrowing so we would feed them young and they would fatten out on free feed, but got tired of fixing fence.



I will try to locate this podcast, thank you. Question about the fixing of fences, were you referring to fixing because of cattle or pigs? If pigs, what kind of fence was it?
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
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I would suggest pasturing them during the day and then only feeding any additional supplement in the late afternoon or evening. This way they fill up on pasture which is essentially free, you pay the real estates taxes either way. It will take them time to get used to this pattern.

It takes time to improve the pasture. Look what you can plant that is right for your climate. Kentucky Bluegrass is a good grass. Lots of different types of clover, alfalfa, trefoil, brassicas, rape, sunchokes, pumpkins, sunflowers, beets, turnips are some of the things we plant on our 70 acres of pasture. Annuals like the pumpkins are concentrated in the winter paddocks. Brassicas, legumes and such are summer pastures. We use managed rotational grazing with our ~400 pigs and we buy no commercial feed for them. In addition to the pasture we give dairy, primarily whey, a little bit of spent barley (would love more), apple pomace in season (crushed apples from cider making), etc. See:

http://SugarMtnFarm.com/pigs

This keeps the cost of feed to a minimum. The piglet, feed and processing are the three primary costs of getting a pig to the table and about evenly divided between those.

I figure about 10 pigs per acre is sustainable on our pastures. That will vary with your soils, pasture quality and any supplemental feed. See:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2007/10/12/how-much-land-per-pig/

and

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2005/08/31/keeping-a-pig-for-meat/

We do raise them year round, delivering to stores & restaurants weekly as well as to individual customers. Winter is a LOT harder than the warm months here in the mountains of northern Vermont. This will vary greatly with climate.

Grow slowly and aim for quality, let that be your niche.


Walter, glad you chimed in and to see you're on this forum. You know I actually found your site before finding permies, which solidified my hopes of rotationally pasturing a small herd one day.
I see from the links there's a lot more info than I could find on my own so I will look into this.
I saw a pasture mix, about 50lbs for $80 and it was supposed to cover 1 acre, and one of the grasses was Bluegrass, would this be a good buy for increasing quality of pasture for the pigs (and maybe even one dairy cow in future)? One thing I'd like to share is when these pigs were younger, they would devour all grass, and they still do now and then in the pasture. However when I take them to the forest where there's lots of grasses around, they tend to browse and be more selective. I don't get it, why don't they just eat everything like they do on the pasture? The pasture is dry due to the different climate (hardly any trees), is it because their options are just more limited in pasture? Thanks again for your advice and the great blog.
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
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John Polk wrote:I would like to make a couple points here.

First, neither the Large Black, nor the Tamworth are 'endangered species'. Truly, neither are nearly as common as they were at one time, but not what I would call endangered. A cross between them is not a breed. From what I have seen, that is not too uncommon a mix...probably a good mix, taking the strengths of each. But basically, a barnyard 'mutt'. And, there is nothing 'wrong' with a mutt. Just don't expect to get top dollar for 'breeding stock' out of a barnyard mix.

Secondly, if you are struggling to keep them fed now, you better find an answer before they breed. Once she is pregnant, her feed/nutrition requirements will soar upwards. It will not diminish until they are weaned. At that point, you will have a dozen or so to feed (or sell/slaughter). If proper nutrition is a concern now, I feel that it is unwise to even consider breeding. The nutrition requirements of a breeding stock are much higher than those of maintenance/market stock.

I wish you all of the luck in your endeavor. We need more small scale breeders to help supply a growing demand for something better than 'factory pigs'.




Hi John, thanks for reply. I'm very interested in Red Wattles, I found a supplier who Northern CA, but like you said there are many prerequisites I need to cover, many considerations before scaling up. The LB/TW were to get a feel for raising pigs on a small scale and see if it suits our family well, costs etc. Rare breed is a desire, but if I can provide an alternative to commercial pork, educate others and eat well I'd be satisfied even if it was not with rare breed and just heritage breed. Now I'm thinking to begin with a heritage stock might be better in terms of startup costs.
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
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mike clark wrote:just get simple.old produce,bread and bakery goods,i get dairy grain screenings for half of grain prices.past due milk products,dont be afraid to ask around.sustaing pigs on just pasture in my opinion is a myth.just look what wild pigs do to crops.most of the pork producers that would like you to belief what they feed are not telling whole truths.proof is in the pigs,try it the in way and when that fails go old school,put my pork up against anyones,most important my friends and family love it.and I can sleep good telling whole truths.best of luck.


2 people have told me flat out they're not keen on the way I'm aiming to raise my pigs- predominately pasture, and that they actually prefer this corn/grain fed, old school way.
In my opinion based on what I've read and what I'd like to accomplish I don't know if this is how I want to do it, though I do appreciate your insight.
What's best for me is whatever helps me achieve the best degree of sustainability possible, without sacrificing quality of meat, without tasting like store bought product, providing something that is nourishing to my family/friends/neighbors/customers, hopefully one day at a price that allows me to make a profit. All or most of the sites/blogs and people I have spoken with locally who raise pastured pork seem to indicate that they supplement with garden/table scraps, brewers grain etc, but that they are mostly on pasture. They would have my money over a strictly grain fed pig right away, because in my mind as a consumer, I have had grain fed CAFO pork from the supermarket many of times and it all tastes the same. Are you saying that you produce pork the same way store bought/commercial farms do, and it tastes differently?
Here's my challenge- not enough land (11acrs 85% forest) to pasture/farm the amount of pigs required to routinely turn a sustaining profit (let's say quarterly) with just one product (pork), which means for me I will likely have to use both methods, with the hopes of *mostly* utilizing pasture. I'd like to find the time/funds to grow one only on grain, and one mostly on pasture to taste the difference for myself, but this likely won't happen.
So what I'm saying is it seems we tailor how we do these things according to our ability and ability of the land. The end result for me is, quality of life of the animal, quality of product and the profit/loss have to all make sense or there wouldn't be any farm to raise them on, lol. Another considering is GMOs. while we cannot eradicate, we can definitely limit them in our supply chain. Pure GMO-free organic grain is 60% more, resulting in product that is too expensive for most people. Last consideration I have is this. Studies are showing that pigs fed diets of only GMO grains are having cysts, abnormal growths etc and for my conscience I don't want my butcher telling me pork I just fed to my family, or donated to food kitchen, sold to neighbors or customer I care about has abnormal growth etc. I appreciate your answers and insight.
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
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Renate Haeckler wrote:I've got pot belly pigs, AKA "Asian Heritage Hogs" when you plan to eat them.

Mine will devour clover, and even with my current paddock rotation, the clover can't grow fast enough to keep them all happy, so I guess they'd need larger paddocks than what I have. I'm giving mine about 4 cups of soaked oats a day per adult-sized (or nearly adult-sized) pig, plus all the grass they can graze. On less than that they lose weight, or the nursing mothers do at any rate. When you feed the herd, they all eat as much as they can until the food is gone, so the mothers, with the highest nutritional needs, get the least food per bodyweight while the babies get the most. It makes the moms pretty skinny by weaning time. But after I wean the babies they gain it all back pretty quickly.

I was just doing some math - I go through 1 50# bag of oats a week with mine - 3 mature sows, 1 boar, 2 around 9 months (ready to slaughter but the temps are too high so we're waiting), 2 @ 4 months and 11 little babies.

The adults are the most expensive to feed, using about 10 bags of oats per year, each. I need to cull, hard, LOL because that's where my $$ is going.

The babies eat no food the first 2 weeks, a negligible amount the next couple as they're still living off of milk mostly. If you average their eating up to 9 months where they eat the same as an adult, it comes out to just 3 bags of oats to grow them from newborn to adult. At $22/bag that's only $66 per pig but mine are pot bellies so they only give around 50lbs of meat each. Still, close to $1/lb for pasture-raised, non-GMO fed isn't too bad, unless you add in the costs of keeping the parents, that is. Of course you can sell extra offspring - around here the prices vary by color - pretty ones can easily go for $50 each but the plain ones are hard to get rid of. Every week you have unsold piglets costs you to feed them and as time goes by the price goes up with the increasing amount they eat.

I just read an average apple tree gives 480lbs of fruit a year. It lacks protein so it can't be a total pig ration but it sure does give calories and other nutrients to help supplement their diets. I tried planting a couple apple seedlings in the pig paddocks, and they really like the foliage - they broke down the protective fence and ate all the leaves off of one of them, haven't discovered the other one yet. And they're not starving, their pasture is lush with grass and some weeds. All summer mine are getting a bucketful of apple thinnings/drops per day in addition to their oats and pasture.


This is good, go with what works. How's the meat taste from "Asian Heritage pigs"? Any difference. When I see them advertised the sellers usually say "these are not for food". Curious as to why, seems like they all produce pork.
 
mike clark
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most important thing for pigs is quality of life.a happy pigs a tasty pig.thats why gmo pork tastes so plain,pigs are miserable,no animal should go through life not feeling the sun on their face or be able to run.feed what ever you can afford,just keep them happy.nothing worse than going to a farm and seeing unkept animals.regardless of feed sounds like most on here care for their animals,no one plan works for every one.
 
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Ari Mattathias wrote:
Here's my challenge- not enough land (11acrs 85% forest) to pasture/farm the amount of pigs required to routinely turn a sustaining profit


I think this is the nut of the problem. With 11 acres of land, in a dry summer climate, you just wont have enough high protein forage to sustain a breeding herd of pigs. For a couple of years you could overgraze the area, but you will be taking more from the forest than is regrowing.

The key to successful farming is matching the environment to the farm operation. I raise dairy cows because I have 7 acres of top quality pasture. I raise 150 meat chickens because I have an orchard that cannot be grazed, yields lots of bugs and greens, and I have a supply of skim milk. I would rewind your thinking, and consider what your natural surplusses are on the land. Match that with a properly scaled animal business.

good luck
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
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I think this is the nut of the problem. With 11 acres of land, in a dry summer climate, you just wont have enough high protein forage to sustain a breeding herd of pigs. For a couple of years you could overgraze the area, but you will be taking more from the forest than is regrowing.

The key to successful farming is matching the environment to the farm operation. I raise dairy cows because I have 7 acres of top quality pasture. I raise 150 meat chickens because I have an orchard that cannot be grazed, yields lots of bugs and greens, and I have a supply of skim milk. I would rewind your thinking, and consider what your natural surplusses are on the land. Match that with a properly scaled animal business.

good luck


Makes good sense. This is the main reason I want to get a seasoned expert out and do a master plan, I think it may be easier to in a natural way create these natural surpluses. For example we have tons of water runoff as we're at the base of big hills (poor choice to put the home but likely the most cost effective at the time), if we could put swales and harvest lots of water, the land would not be as dry in the Summer, yes? So we could then plant more seeds/grow more crops just for the animals (and ourselves). Another thought is having a fodder system in an extra bedroom. Would be cost effective to make one instead of buying commercial, can't beat the price of (nearly) free, assuming it sprouts that is.
 
John Polk
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Ari says
Studies are showing that pigs fed diets of only GMO grains are having cysts, abnormal growths etc


And, I have read reports, and seen video clips where hog (and cattle) raisers are stating that their stock became infertile on GMO feeds. In a couple cases, it was reported that half a year on 'real food' has restored the fertility (but, is it an inferior offspring?). For a breeder, that spells D-O-O-M. How 'cheap' is the feed if your stock loses the ability to reproduce? The ability to reproduce (and improve the genetics of your) stock is paramount in a sustainable operation.

If we are not improving the genetics of our stock, we are just 'revving our engines in neutral'.

 
Walter Jeffries
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mike clark wrote:gmo pork tastes so plain


GMO pigs? Really? Where? I'm not aware of any commercially raised GMOed pigs. I would be curious.

Or did you mean pigs fed GMOed feeds like the typical commercial hog feeds based corn/soy?
 
Walter Jeffries
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Ari Mattathias wrote:Here's my challenge- not enough land (11acrs 85% forest) to pasture/farm the amount of pigs required to routinely turn a sustaining profit


That is enough land to do a lot with. I find that I can raise ten pigs per acre sustainably in our climate which is the mountains of northern Vermont. I buy in winter hay and I supplement with whey. I have the land to do hay but not the time or equipment. I grow sunflowers, pumpkins, beets and such in the winter paddocks - winter is close to a third to half our year depending on the year. How much you supplement and your climate determines how many pigs per acre.

Like you we were mostly forested. A hundred years ago it was mostly fields, rocky and not tractor-able but fields. We cut back the forest to the old stone walls in some sections to regain the old fields and planted a mix of grasses, legumes and other forages using frost seeding. We've done this in two stages over the decades. I don't bring in a bulldozer but just flush cut the trees, sell the timber and seed. The timber pays for seed and fencing. I left line trees and patches for shelter. You have enough land to do this. Nut and fruit trees are good choices to leave. Some spruce with low branches make good cover too.

We buy no commercial hog feed/grain. The vast majority of our livestock feed comes from our pastures during the warm seasons and then the hay that we buy in plus veggies and fruit - we grow a lot although not enough to carry the full winter, yet. We plant legumes like alfalfa, clover as well as brassicas like kale in our fields to boost the protein. Digestibility is key. Not all high protein forages are equal for this reason.

Young pigs do well on pasture with softer forages like clover and newer sprouted grasses. We also give them an extra boost of eggs as available from our pastured hens who also get no commercial ration/grain. The hens are turning pasture into eggs which is a near perfect food so technically a pig eating a pastured chicken egg is eating pasture! Cook the eggs to double the available protein.

Our soil is thin and the terrain is steep yet it works here. We do have plenty of water which is important. I started terrace our land back in the early 1990's. Many of those terraces are now acres of rich large gardens. We use some of these in rotation for our winter paddocks - the livestock eliminate weeds and fertilize the soil. Then in the summer these areas make wonderful gardens. I originally got livestock for their manure. Our 400 pigs on pasture grew out of that over the years.

Some of our land is still forest - we didn't clear it all. The dead wood heats our house and some neighbors plus we do sustainable logging. Variety.
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
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Walter Jeffries wrote:
Ari Mattathias wrote:Here's my challenge- not enough land (11acrs 85% forest) to pasture/farm the amount of pigs required to routinely turn a sustaining profit


That is enough land to do a lot with. I find that I can raise ten pigs per acre sustainably in our climate which is the mountains of northern Vermont. I buy in winter hay and I supplement with whey. I have the land to do hay but not the time or equipment. I grow sunflowers, pumpkins, beets and such in the winter paddocks - winter is close to a third to half our year depending on the year. How much you supplement and your climate determines how many pigs per acre.

Like you we were mostly forested. A hundred years ago it was mostly fields, rocky and not tractor-able but fields. We cut back the forest to the old stone walls in some sections to regain the old fields and planted a mix of grasses, legumes and other forages using frost seeding. We've done this in two stages over the decades. I don't bring in a bulldozer but just flush cut the trees, sell the timber and seed. The timber pays for seed and fencing. I left line trees and patches for shelter. You have enough land to do this. Nut and fruit trees are good choices to leave. Some spruce with low branches make good cover too.

We buy no commercial hog feed/grain. The vast majority of our livestock feed comes from our pastures during the warm seasons and then the hay that we buy in plus veggies and fruit - we grow a lot although not enough to carry the full winter, yet. We plant legumes like alfalfa, clover as well as brassicas like kale in our fields to boost the protein. Digestibility is key. Not all high protein forages are equal for this reason.

Young pigs do well on pasture with softer forages like clover and newer sprouted grasses. We also give them an extra boost of eggs as available from our pastured hens who also get no commercial ration/grain. The hens are turning pasture into eggs which is a near perfect food so technically a pig eating a pastured chicken egg is eating pasture! Cook the eggs to double the available protein.

Our soil is thin and the terrain is steep yet it works here. We do have plenty of water which is important. I started terrace our land back in the early 1990's. Many of those terraces are now acres of rich large gardens. We use some of these in rotation for our winter paddocks - the livestock eliminate weeds and fertilize the soil. Then in the summer these areas make wonderful gardens. I originally got livestock for their manure. Our 400 pigs on pasture grew out of that over the years.

Some of our land is still forest - we didn't clear it all. The dead wood heats our house and some neighbors plus we do sustainable logging. Variety.

------
It's amazing to me how this one post has provided a treasure trove of knowledge, you all are awesome!
This dialogue has changed my perception and increase my confidence, now I'll have to get to work.
Walter, may I pry for a bit more information? It sounds like our environments have similarities. My forests are thick, trees close together, unmanaged for at least 15 years (some of my neighbors can tell me more about the property than I know which I really appreciate), steep terrain, slopes/hills.

The selective, sustainable logging and selling of timber sounds like this will help me to like you said pay for seeds and fencing, as well as slowly establish a breeding stock, perhaps get some more goats and if I have the capacity what I'd really like is to have 3 dairy cows.
I can't afford and don't want to take on debt for commercial equipment, so on a smaller scale if I want log and sale timber (self or with a friend or two), what would I need other than chainsaw and a wench? What do you use?

Sustainable logging - Intriguing. . Any books you can recommend on this? I had proposals from a logger but the 45% in savings could really help us get established. I'm thinking to utilizing his services for the really hard stuff, and do what I can do safely.

Hard boiled eggs - got this from your blog months ago, they love it!

Fencing in sloped forest/steep terrain - electric or non-electric? How does this work? I looked around for pics of your fencing, but can't find. Any tips?

Finally the seeds - sunflowers, pumpkins, beets, grasses, legumes, alfalfa, clover as well as brassicas like kale, do you buy in standard packs or is there a place where one could get these in bulk?

After you've logged, do you till at all?

PS- I like how you conveyed in one post, a properly managed forest. Someone thought it was forest that had never been logged, but in fact it had been, but it was well taken care of, that was great! This is what I'd like to accomplish where I am also.

Thanks again!
 
Walter Jeffries
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Ari Mattathias wrote:Walter, may I pry for a bit more information? It sounds like our environments have similarities. My forests are thick, trees close together, unmanaged for at least 15 years (some of my neighbors can tell me more about the property than I know which I really appreciate), steep terrain, slopes/hills. The selective, sustainable logging and selling of timber sounds like this will help me to like you said pay for seeds and fencing, as well as slowly establish a breeding stock, perhaps get some more goats and if I have the capacity what I'd really like is to have 3 dairy cows.


Once you've figured out how much you want to turn into pasture then I would suggest working with a logger to clear cut that area as one cut for efficiency. Leave line trees to divide up the spaces. These make great anchors too for the fence corners. Long eye bolts work well and don't hurt the trees. See:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2010/01/27/canis-nivicolous-snow-dogs/

Also leave some trees for shade and keep food producer trees such as nuts, apples, etc. Even if they're just randomly scattered that is fine.

Ari Mattathias wrote:I can't afford and don't want to take on debt for commercial equipment, so on a smaller scale if I want log and sale timber (self or with a friend or two), what would I need other than chainsaw and a wench? What do you use?


I have a chainsaw and tractor. Clearing five to seven acres is a lot of work, especially if you've not done the work before. For what you want to do I would suggest working with a logger who'll have the bigger equipment. 3/4 of your property would be just big enough to make a cut interesting for a professional logger and give you some return for seed and fencing. He'll have it done in a month or two depending on equipment and then you plant right behind him. That would leave 1/4 as wood lot. The deadwood and junkwood out of that quarter can heat your home sustainably if you build well. We use a little less than 0.75 cord of wood a year to heat our house here in the mountains of northern central Vermont - fairly extreme climate. See:

http://SugarMtnFarm.com/cottage

Ari Mattathias wrote:Sustainable logging - Intriguing. I had proposals from a logger but the 45% in savings could really help us get established. I'm thinking to utilizing his services for the really hard stuff, and do what I can do safely.


It will be a long time before the wooded section is ready to yield more timber. Your goal will be to encourage the growth of good timber, forages, interesting things like ginseng, mushrooms, etc that you can do in the forest while it matures and then later a series of cuts over decades of the top quality timber. With your property size, once you've done the initial cut you'll be able to pull firewood from the junk in the remaining acres sustainably. This will gradually upgrade the wood quality as you leave the better trees to grow and open space for them. Forestry is a very long term crop, even generational.

Ari Mattathias wrote:Any books you can recommend on this?


Unfortunately, right now my forestry books are stored away so I don't have any to recommend. Check on Amazon and see what is getting good reviews.

Ari Mattathias wrote:Fencing in sloped forest/steep terrain - electric or non-electric? How does this work? I looked around for pics of your fencing, but can't find. Any tips?


Uneven terrain makes for interesting fencing. If you have a lot of field stone then filling dips is good. Electric makes up most of our field fencing. Walls, stock panel, cliffs and pallets make up the nearer stuff for the most part where we don't want electric due to pin-balling. We often use big rocks and trees for end anchors since our soils are so shallow. Step in posts make great line posts if there is no tension distorting them. I like high tensile smooth wire for primary perimeter and someday for the major and maybe minor paddock divisions. We have about 1.5 miles of outside perimeter which is then divided into major fields which are then divided into paddocks. There is a photo on this post which gives you a sense of that:

http://SugarMtnFarm.com/home/farm/

Try this search pattern for fencing topics:

http://www.google.com/search?q=site:sugarmtnfarm.com+fencing

Ari Mattathias wrote:Finally the seeds - sunflowers, pumpkins, beets, grasses, legumes, alfalfa, clover as well as brassicas like kale, do you buy in standard packs or is there a place where one could get these in bulk?


Bulk for sure if you're doing any volume. Most of the seed vendors (e.g., High Mow, Johnny's, etc, etc) offer bulk to farmers. They generally have a professional catalog. Just call and ask for it. Read the info to avoid the GMOs (if that matters to you) and hybrids (I tend to prefer non-hybrid versions when possible). Then start saving seed year to year because what survived, what thrived, one year is the best seed for next year.

Ari Mattathias wrote:After you've logged, do you till at all?


We don't. We use the livestock to do that. We plant primarily by simply hand scattering as well as some hand drilling with a stick for things like pumpkins. For what I use most of the time see:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2013/05/25/vermont-planting-weather/

We tend to storm, frost and mob seed:

http://www.google.com/search?q=site:sugarmtnfarm.com+frost%20seeding

Ari Mattathias wrote:I like how you conveyed in one post, a properly managed forest. Someone thought it was forest that had never been logged, but in fact it had been, but it was well taken care of, that was great! This is what I'd like to accomplish where I am also.


The history of land is very interesting. Our land was not used by Native Americans as it was too high up. Settlers bought it (foolishly) sight unseen as hundred acre lots. Some ended up in the marsh. Others on top of the mountain with no water and just rocks for company. Our house was one of the oldest homes in the area, one of the original settlements. It was probably here because of the good spring up hill from it - I found an ancient cedar(?) wooden pipe in the spring bog. They had running water here 230 years ago. There was an entire town on our land but it died out during the cold spell when the crops failed for multiple years in the 1800's. At that time they had cleared virtually all the trees and were raising sheep and crops. Over the next century it grew back to forest. It is pretty amazing as you walk through the forest and there are huge trees, it doesn't look like anyone's been there but then you come upon a spring, a stone wall or stumble into a cellar hole. People didn't build stone walls out in the middle of the woods. They put them on the boundaries of the fields as they cleared out the rock. When we bought the land in the 1980's from the gentleman who had been born here the beginning of that last century he told us a lot about the history of the land. He used to come visiting for about 15 years after that until he died. Loads of interesting stuff. We've been working on reopening fields that had grown up to forest. It's a slow process. Don't be in a hurry. I almost never use bulldozers to take out stumps because half of the tree is down in the ground. I want those nutrients. I can't risk the thin layer of soil we have washing away. Thus we clear cutting low and plant grasses, legumes and other forages immediately when remaking fields.

Cheers,

-Walter
 
Nicholas Mason
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We are raising two pigs this year, on mostly forage. We did get them some commercial feed, super goat actually and lots of scraps. They are not the fastest growing pigs, but they are healthy and we feed very minimally. Throughout most of the summer they didn't even root, too much to eat above ground. Although now they are starting to root in some areas. Thankfully mostly where we have blackberry problems.
While reading through I caught that you said you feed them all your scraps minus the meat. Pigs are omnivores. We make sure that anything that has pork in it is feed to either the dogs or chickens but the pigs get scrap meat, as well as some the the innards when we butcher our rabbits or chickens. And they love us for it. We also give them our extra eggs and milk.
We are going to breed our sow this December and our plan for feeding to to set up a fodder system, mixed with forage and scraps.
As for fencing we had problems keeping them in the electric fencing, then we got one of the chargers that shocks at 24 joules. We don't have that problem anymore.
 
Walter Jeffries
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Nicholas Mason wrote:We are going to breed our sow this December and our plan for feeding to to set up a fodder system, mixed with forage and scraps.
As for fencing we had problems keeping them in the electric fencing, then we got one of the chargers that shocks at 24 joules. We don't have that problem anymore.


Training is very important. Electric is a psychological barrier. If the animals are properly trained to it inside a strongly physically fenced area then after that only minimal electric fencing is highly effective. Without the training they may learn to challenge the fence and that they can get through it if they're willing to risk the pain.
 
Nicholas Mason
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Yeah they were trained to it, but pigs are smart creatures and like to test things. Our sow liked to test the fence by pushing the other pig into it. I have heard of other breeders having the same problem of pigs getting out. Especially during the drier months when electric fences are not a strong as other times of the year.
 
Nicholas Mason
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When researching what fence charger to get, the research I kept coming across was get the strongest fence charger you can afford. That's what the professionals are suggesting, and from my experience it is right on. Not only does it shock through all climate changes, but also will continue to shock if brush or a branch or something happens to the fence.
 
John Polk
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Here's how to train your boars:
 
Walter Jeffries
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Nicholas Mason wrote:Yeah they were trained to it, but pigs are smart creatures and like to test things. Our sow liked to test the fence by pushing the other pig into it. I have heard of other breeders having the same problem of pigs getting out. Especially during the drier months when electric fences are not a strong as other times of the year.


Run one wire that is ground, for example the top wire above normal height. This attaches to the ground of the fencer and to each metal post and definitely metal posts at the corners distant from the energizer. Doing this delivers ground all the way around. Some people will alternate the wires so the bottom one is hot, next one up is ground, next is hot, etc. This is highly effective too - with a good energizer it will give an intense shock.

Fence wire matters too. High tensile smooth wire inside a visual barrier that is also partially a physical barrier (e.g., a stone wall) is extremely effective. Cheap lightweight wire breaks, shorts and fails training the pigs to the wrong ideas. Fence visibility is also key.

If the pigs are challenging the fence then they have not been trained well enough and the fence may be to flimsy and be not charged enough of the time. Pigs are not all that smart - they're good at being pigs. One thing they are good at is challenging a fence if what they want is on the other side. It is in their ken. The solution is to train well, have good fences and to have what they want inside their areas.
 
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As far as being trained goes...the wire you can see here has been unplugged for a week. Younger pigs seem to want to test that more, but if they grow up around it and/or have some bigger pigs that have in the same pen they don't seem to test it too much once they know where it is.

As far as charger power goes, pigs are huge wusses...you are buying a bigger charger based on needing it to push through grass/brush and not based on needing to have enough juice to convince them...so they are much easier to contain than sheep (for example).

 
Patrick Winters
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Walt, if I was going to raise one or two pigs almost entirely on forage, is this possible in semi-shady conditions? I've got my eye on half an acre, half of which is oak and white pine forest, and the other half of which is currently lawn with light shade. It's bordered by forest on the east and the south, and has an oak tree on its western side too, so it's a sheltered, moist position, probably gets 4-5 hours of dappled sunlight a day before the long shadows pointing northwest come drawing across. Right now the grass is lush and grows well, but I wonder if it's possible to get an effective polyculture going under those circumstances. What plants would you recommend? You think turnips and other brassicas would still do well?
 
Walter Jeffries
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The more shade the less plant growth as a general rule. Forest floors tend to be low on growth rate. Opening up patches leads to greater biodiversity of both plant and animal species. Even thinning the trees to let light down through the canopy can make a big difference, greatly increasing the growth of grasses, legumes and other forages between the trees. I would aim for six hours or more of light.

Test plant many different varieties of grasses, clovers, brassicas and other forages. Observe and adjust for what grows well in your micro-climate with your soils and light. Our pigs also eat thistles, burdock, pumpkins, sunflowers, sunchokes, squash, beets, turnips, etc. Things they're not fond of are cherry trees, goldenrod, milkweed but they'll trample those when mob grazing - just like with cattle and sheep.

There are many legumes, e.g., birdsfoot trefoil, clovers, alfalfa, vetch, etc. Plants lots of these and many varieties. Find out what works in your location. These suck nitrogen out of the air to enrich your soil. Free fertilizer as well as forages that are easily digested, palatable and higher in protein.

In the grasses I plant the softer more edible ones like Kentucky Bluegrass as well as things like millet that produce seeds the pigs and chickens like to eat. I tend to avoid the grasses that can go toxic with drought or fall frosts. Toxicity is mainly a problem under certain conditions and if the animals are forced to eat too much of things.

Your oaks are a great resource, as are any other fruit or nut trees. As you thin the woods, preferentially select for the types of trees you want, like these food producers. Also keep some of the very best lumber trees to continue growing for possible veneer wood and cabinetry. Forestry is a very long term harvesting process.

Cheers,

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/
 
Patrick Winters
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This is great stuff, thanks Walt!
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
Posts: 80
Location: Oregon
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Nicholas Mason wrote:Yeah they were trained to it, but pigs are smart creatures and like to test things. Our sow liked to test the fence by pushing the other pig into it. I have heard of other breeders having the same problem of pigs getting out. Especially during the drier months when electric fences are not a strong as other times of the year.


Can totally relate to this one! During Summer, we were tested like never before with our two! They found the tiniest sections and squeezed through, sometimes risking shock just to get through polytape and squeeze under the hog panel! They're on about 1 acre, lots of green pasture so I'm not sure what else they could be looking for. As it turns out, one recent day they made their way into the feed room after getting out again. Somehow they knew where the grain was and how to push open the door. They knocked over the plastic totes that contained chicken feed, and appears when they finished about 10 lbs remaining chicken feed, they went for pig feed. I would say there was about 30lbs of 16% feed, and they ate nearly all of it. As I've been using this as a ration, a 50lb bag tends to last a month or so even with two 6mo old pigs. They were barfing all the feed up when I came home. Getting out and testing the wire was something they learned over Summer I'm convinced, and they waited for the right time to make their big break lol. Decided not to use polytape in the area where they kept testing, it just wasn't enough anymore. Instead I used 14 gauge aluminum wire in conjunction with the polytape. Even though I tied it into the polytape instead of running a strand directly from the charger in some areas, it worked! I ran out of step in posts but we had some pvc laying around which I drilled tiny holes to run the 14 gauge through and hammered them into the ground. Let's just say I heard from a few hundred feet away when they tried to test it again, and this has not been an issue since.
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
Posts: 80
Location: Oregon
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Just wanted to provide an update. 6 months old, Mr. Pig is at about 175lbs. The butcher came out but said we should wait a little longer because of the small weight.
This is good because we listed at 2.75/lb+1/2 kill fee and cut/wrap and have received no replies.
Unfortunately with the feed not certified organic and unknown as to whether or not it's GMO (Nature's Match Pig Grower) I can't say "organic/non-gmo", I wonder if this could have put off a perspective buyer.
I've bought 6 bags of feed (the last two hoping to get him to weight in a month or so) and have increased the ration.
They're still getting leftovers from the salad buffet, which is delivered from an organic farm, breads, pastas etc. I always thought 6 months was the cut off, but now that I'm reading more, I see some people actually wait a whole year, allowing the pig to reach the weight naturally. At what age does a pastured pig usually go for the slaughter? With Large Black/Yorkshire, should I be concerned about any breed specific issues as far as taste/quality, in letting them grow out longer?
 
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