I have an open hillside of about 1/2 acre I want to use to feed hogs. Not a herd (yet... tenting my fingers), just a few for my family consumption. The options I'm kicking around are:
1. Plant corn, cut it and feed it.
2. Co-plant corn and something high protein like alfalfa, paddock them in the field and let them harvest it themselves.
3.Plant pasture and rotate paddocks.
I have 5 acres total, most of it woods. The idea is to be as self-sufficient and buy as little commercial feed as possible. They'll also get all the apples they can eat from the old trees I have and eggs from the laying hens I also plan to raise. I have a small tractor, a plow and a bush hog but no harvesting equipment. Any input?
what about forage cover crops plus pasture? Plant turnips, daikon, clovers, vetch, peas, pumpkins and squash, etc. along with clover and pasture grasses for your area. Then paddock through.
If done right, you can get all the way through the winter without harvesting anything but what YOU want to eat. A half acre isn't much, though.
"You must be the change you want to see in the world." "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." --Francis of Assisi.
"Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
posted 5 years ago
I would say that if these hogs are for family consumption, forget about winter feed.
In the cold months, hogs eat more for the calories to keep warm, without significant weight gain.
For old time farmers, the first good frost meant butcher time: cold enough to safely hang a carcass, plus just when feed consumption increases, and weight gain slows down. However, if you plan on breeding your own piglets, then you will need to feed at least a pair over winter.
Corn, by itself is far from a complete diet. If you pasture the hogs in your corn field, you will need to wait until the corn is big enough to 'defend itself'. Small seedlings will get trampled long before they grow ears. The pigs are good harvesters. When the corn is ready, lay a few plants on their sides. Once the hogs associate them with yummies, they should begin harvesting their own. Table scraps, and yard waste used to be many hogs entire diet...that's why so many farms raised them...turning waste into nutritious food for the family.
Corn is not all that great a food. Just energy for the most part. If you hillside is like our swiftly sloping land then it is not very good for growing corn either. A bit of a climate issue too.
What I find is that it is far better to divide the land up for managed rotational grazing, improve it with alfalfa, clovers, trefoil, chicory, millet, brassicas, highly palatable grasses and then graze livestock on it. We graze pigs, ducks, chickens and geese. We feed them no commercial grain/hog feed. We supplement with dairy which makes up about 7% of their diet. Pasture makes up the vast majority of their diet replaced with hay in the winter.
With just a half acre you could do five pigs through the warm months quite nicely.
Sounds like pasture is the way to go then. I'm picturing a circle of life type arrangement- chickens to keep the flies down and give egg protein to the hogs. Hogs to attract flies for the chickens. Free range eggs and pastured pork for me.
Jon, I'm doing something similar, raising a few pigs in pasture. My land isn't robust enough (yet) to give the pigs enough to eat. We're giving them feed while they turn the soil and enrich it. I'm going to sow lots of nitrogen fixers after the pigs have had their way with the ground. I also have some areas already sown with clover, alfalfa, sunchokes, comfrey and the like.
I'd like to hear how things work out for you. Good question.