I purchase alfalfa hay for my pigs during the cold months. Any ideas for producing my own feed for them?
I'm in hardiness zone 5b. Frost doesn't go away completely until close to the end of May. There isn't enough forage for the pigs until some time in June. First frost of the fall hits toward the end of September and the pigs won't be able to get enough from pasture some time in October.
I've planted a couple appletrees and plan on adding six more. I'd like to add some oak trees for acorns, but I'm not sure how much actual feed they'd create. I'm looking at growing pumpkins as well.
How much land do you have to work with? Apart from the fruit and nut trees, I'd look into jersusalem artichokes, but be careful as they can get pretty invasive if left unattended, but with pigs that shouldnt be a problem. There are also forage turnips that you can usually get through seed companies or swap that grow 1+ foot long and can be used for feed throughout winter.
I have about 5 acres that I'm dedicating to pigs. The trees are/will be in their pasture area. I planted some chokes this last spring and they came up, though they never flowered. I'm not sure if they'll come back or not.
Are you suggesting growing the turnips outside the pasture and storing them for feed?
Best way to check the chokes (that I know of) is to simply dig some up. I had some that flowered, and some that didnt, but had more rotting ones in the patch that flowered. When in doubt see if you can get a good handful and replant in the spring. Given half the chance they'll take off.
With the turnips I'd say do both. Spread seeds throughout their acreage which hopefully they wont eat all of, and plant some away to use as a backup if the pasture seeded turnips don't do well or if the pigs eat more than expected. I would think that any root crop, and good storage crop like squash etc would get you through a good chunk of the winter.
Try doing a search on Spokane/CdA Craig's List in Farm/Garden.
There was a guy advertising 500++ pound tubs of pumpkins for $25.
It's been at least a week, but the search function should find him.
He may have some left. He also had field corn & other veggies priced like that.
+1 on pumpkins and any other end-of-season fruits and veg.
If you have the time, sprouted grain fodder is EXCELLENT feed and stretches the feed like 6 times further than feeding straight grain. Barley, wheat, oats, field peas, black oil sunflowers, clover, alfalfa. Grow the to 6-8 days for the animals, a little less for you.
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The thought of growing grain fodder (thanks for mentioning, R Scott) pointed me to Fukuoka.
I hadn't considered growing grain before, but Mr. Fukuoka was growing rice , barley and rye on 1 and a quarter acres. He was getting around 1,100 pounds of rice alone. I'm not sure about barley/rye harvest.
I expect to provide feed for a total of 180 days (this will get shorter as I improve my pastures).
I think a total of 1,800 pounds grain (rice, barley, rye whatever) could cut my feed bill by as much as a third.
Thanks for reminding me about sprouting the grain. I did this with Milo (sorghum) until my supply dried up. The chickens and the pigs like it. (the geese don't)
John Polk wrote:Yeah. 500++ pounds of pumpkins would feed a lot of livestock, plus give you enough seeds to do your own patch next year. Who cares if they are "Jack-o-lantern" quality when you have hungry livestock?
A couple years ago, my wife went to a church that had set up a "pumpkin patch" by trucking in several hundred pumpkins and arranging them on the lawn for folks to come buy.
Halloween passed, and of course not every pumpkin got bought, so the church had a hundred or two unwanted pumpkins. And since they weren't actually a farm, and it wasn't actually a pumpkin patch, they didn't have anyhing useful to do with them or anywhere to put them.
So they were just tickled when she offered to take some away.
We haven't done it again, but that's partly because we still have a few jars of canned pumpkin on the shelf and don't want more. :) But I imagane it will be a pretty reliable, repeatable plan, if you can make the timing work out.