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Swine nutrition

 
Jeremey Weeks
Posts: 206
Location: Eastern Washington, 8 acres, h. zone 5b
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I'm pretty new to pigs.

I'm not new to other farm animals.

I have a few concerns about vitamin and mineral deficiencies in pigs. One thing that comes to mind is selenium.

I've used licks that contain minerals for animals like cows and horses. Is this something I should do for the pigs?

FYI, selenium is touchy--it can kill your animals but everyone needs a little of it. There are other vitamins and minerals that may be lacking as well.

I'm hoping that the grazing/browsing that my pigs are doing will mitigate most of my concerns.

I also understand that too much calcium can cause a zinc deficiency.

Basically, I have all the new parent concerns regarding an animal I don't have a lot of experience with. I've read a couple books and have Small Scale Pig Raising on hand, but I don't think the subject is covered well.

Help?

Thanks
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I believe that the key (with any animal, including humans) is diversity.
If you have enough diversity, the animals should get what they need.

Most herbal lays contain at least a dozen or two different plants, mixing the families (i.e. brasicas, legumes,, etc.).





 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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Don't worry. Be happy. Provide a varied diet.

The primary component of our diet is pasture. In the winter the fresh pasture is replaced with stored pasture, that is to say hay.

The secondary part (~7%) is dairy which is primarily whey. This provides lysine, a limiting amino acid, and some calories.

For the grower pigs we feed eggs from our pastured chickens.

We buy no commercial hog feed or hen feed.

Growth is a little bit slower than on a full commercial corn/soy ration but it is a lot less expensive and the meat quality is better.

We did have our soil tested - it is complete. We have selenium and all the other needed minerals in our soil. Unfortunately the farm we get our winter hay from does not have selenium. So we supplement in the winter with dirt from our land or with kelp which is a good source.

Worry less about exact numbers and spend more time observing the animals. How are they growing? Are they muscling? Fat layer? Jowl? Coat? Develop a keen eye for observing and understanding the animals. This takes time. Having a varied diet helps make it work.
 
Jeremey Weeks
Posts: 206
Location: Eastern Washington, 8 acres, h. zone 5b
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Thanks, John, Walter.

I'll give the extension office a call. I think they've done soil studies near my land. I'll see what they have to say about selenium specifically.

I like the idea of adding kelp. Seems like it would be hard to overdose on selenium from it.
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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Rather than calling the extension to ask about soil tests I would get one done. They change over time and the extension may have data for other places that are not the same as yours. Soil tests aren't expensive. $15 last time I did one.
 
Jeremey Weeks
Posts: 206
Location: Eastern Washington, 8 acres, h. zone 5b
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Will do. I think the quote I got was $60. I didn't consider that the soil studies could get outdated. Either price, the money will be well spent.

--JS
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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I'm thinking that they may have spot soil tests for the area but that may not reflect your farm. For example they soil tested the low land valley farms around here and they show low selenium but we have excellent selenium. We're in the mountains much higher up and things are different.
 
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