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Starting a Tropical Piggery

 
master pollinator
Posts: 8825
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
733
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Slope stabilizing hedgerows. 

 Nitrogen producing bushes will be grown along the lower ridges, of each paddock, amongst the rocks. They will stabilize the material and provide rich leaf drop and fodder. With nitrogen producing trees, there's usually going to be some other nutrient that becomes the limiting factor for growth. So we will make sure to add this to the crop areas and to the hedgerows. The most likely candidate for the hedgerows is ipil ipil, a bushy form of lucena, which is commonly used as firewood and charcoal. Mother of cacao, is another fast-growing legume tree.

 Goats and cattle graze on lucena. It is probably the most commonly used pioneer species in the Philippines, because of its value as fuel and fodder.

We will also try tagasaste or tree lucerne and pigeon peas on hedgerows. These areas won't be cultivated, but will still play an integral part in stabilizing soil while providing nitrogen, firewood and other products.

 There will probably be other species that thrive on neglect, that could be placed in the hedgerows. I'd like to plant larger fodder trees at regular intervals. These could be harvested daily, to feed the carabao and at the end of the work day, the carabao could haul a load back to the barn for the other animals.
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Once land is worked up, it needs to be quickly repaired and planted. So we might want one or two laborers, working close by the carabao. It would be their job to clear rocks and any other debris that might make work difficult. They could dig out pig wallows and harvest forage trees. After each day's clearing, that area could be planted, and would need to be clearly marked.

 Hedgerows are probably where the snakes will live, and hopefully retreat to, whenever we are trying to get some work done.

Everything can be planted either with seed or small plants from a propagation area, so that we don't have bare soil for long. Mulch whenever material is available. Each day's work would need to be marked and labelled, so that I can tell how much is getting done. We would also need to have a ledger, that states how many feet of a given terrace is handled on a given day.

 I will work with the crew, for several weeks, until they understand what I'm trying to do. Many will be accustomed to destroying everything in their path, in order to just get something planted. After I've determined how much ground can be cleared in a day, I will place coloured stakes, numbered from 1 to 31 for each day of the month. I will take pictures of these markers with land features in the background so that workers can't move them. It's always difficult to get work done, when the boss can't be there. But I have 25 years of slave driving behind me.
 
Dale Hodgins
master pollinator
Posts: 8825
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
733
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Goats ...
When we first tackle a property, I will want to give the whole place a once over, to improve access and identify areas where something useful might already be growing.

That is likely to be trees or bushes that produce nitrogen. Anywhere that looks like the land is doing something useful on its own, will be given some of the minerals that are almost always in short supply. This will allow biomass to increase, as that area waits to be transformed. Future roadways and hedgerow lines will be identified.

Depending on how good or bad forage possibilities are, it might make sense to graze this area, first with goats, and then with cattle and pigs, only if they exhaust other food supplies.

I'd like to use a shepherd, to keep goats in the prescribed area. This may require tethering mother goats or others, so the herd will stay in the desired area. The attendant would be required to do machete work, to improve access and provide the goats with difficult to reach food supplies. He would also carry water and a supply of a supplemental food, as an inducement to keep the animals around. I will eventually supply the attendant with either a horse or carabao, to haul supplies.

I have used cordless electric hedge cutting equipment extensively. Forage can be cut very quickly, using power equipment. I hope my brother-in-law can become proficient, since this would break up the monotony of constant machete work, and the goats would stick around, when they know that at any moment, he may drop more stuff that's hanging 12 feet above him.

I've had goats wait under trees where I'm doing pruning. I think they will stick around. I'm not sure about the situation with herding dogs. I didn't see any of that, but we will have dogs for protecting the property and livestock.

Goats will help to get rid of the tangly mess that often confronts those tackling neglected land. One man with a machete can only clear a small amount of land each day, and it will quickly grow in behind him. But when that man is accompanied by 50 goats, they will do more work than he does and they will make constant demands on their keeper, to bring down more stuff that is out of their reach.

  Goats are available for between $10 and $20 each, when a few months old. I've had goats before, so have a pretty good idea of what they would eat. We will start small with 10 or so, and see if someone is able to control them. If all goes well, I will increase the herd size, so that they can cover every bit of the farm, every few weeks.
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It's much easier to clear land that has been grazed regularly. If we are able to get a large chunk of land, it might be a couple years before we are able to convert it all to forest and cropland. By that time, I would expect to see most of the really brambly stuff gone, with grasses and fodder trees dominant.

 The goat herd will be reduced, as necessary, as we conquer more territory, but hopefully through good management, we will be able to increase the carrying capacity and always keep plenty of goats around, to eat up the trimmings from the ever-increasing supply of tree forage, from the cropland areas.
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Goats in the crop areas.

A Hedgerow and pathway will run parallel to the slope, along the lower portion of each crop area. Goats will be confined to this area.

Goat manure spreads easily and doesn't put too much nutrient in one place. They will be confined to pens or tethers, and fed weeds, from crop areas, and leaves from hedgerows.

Employees who are tasked with weeding, sometimes work at a leisurely pace. Goats are quite vocal, if there's something they like, that isn't coming fast enough. Free taskmasters, whose friendly nature, makes people want to feed them.

A mobile pen, could be moved along the perimeter of the field, so that goats can consume weeds delivered by workers, along with whatever is growing under foot and overhead. Workers will be carrying the basket of weeds, downhill. They will sometimes carry manure and leaf mulch from the goat feeding area, up to areas where it is needed.

The edges will contain legume trees, which can be fed, whenever weeds aren't coming fast enough. They can also be fed wilted azolla, and sometimes silage, if we experienced a dry period, when forage trees should be given a rest.

In this setting, goats fulfill 6 functions.

1. They eat the weeds.

2. They eat the tree cuttings

3. They keep the trail, between the trees and row crops open.

4. They push workers to continually provide weeds and to move the pen as they graze the path.

5. The cleared area they provide will give me another indicator of how much work is being done on any given day.

6. Preliminary processing of very bushy firewood.

Whenever there's enough food in one location, for them to cover the ground in poop, it will be raked up and hauled up slope, to plants in need of fertilizer.

If they can get along, there may be times when pigs and goats are penned together. Goats and pigs like to eat different things, so I think that having goats will actually increase available pig food, by converting roughage to easily used fertilizer.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Pigs on tether

Whenever plants are being harvested or weeded , there will be some things that are best fed to pigs and others for goats. A few pigs could be taken along with the goats to each work area.

If a small section of crop field is completely harvested, a pig can be tethered on a line that lets them only reach that area. The anchor must be strong.

A cage might also be used, but they might just tunnel under or lift it with their snouts.
 
pollinator
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Location: Victoria BC
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On the first farm I interned on, at the direction of the optimistic farmer, I built a 14x16 pig tractor out of dimensional lumber and crappy screws, with  very heavy cattle fence wire over that.

It needed better fasteners and more lumber for corner bracing, neither of which were available. It was a pure miserable bitch to move with less than 4 people, 1 per corner. And this was on quite level ground


It held 6 pigs well until they were perhaps 100lbs. After that they quickly became strong enough to lift the edges with their nose and flip the side of the pen 2+ feet in the air.

They had never actually escaped when I left that farm, at which point they must have been approaching 140lbs.. but this seemed more in the way of good fortune than good design...


You could do better with bamboo if portability was the goal, but the sheer mass of the monstrousity was what kept them in.. So a lighter pen, would even more urgently require attachment to the ground....
 
Dale Hodgins
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I expect to build it quite heavily and on skids. The Buffalo can easily pull 1000 pounds. There are probably more skid carts than ones with wheels, on the farms.

Goat enclosures can be bamboo. Panels made of 1-inch uprights spaced every three inches are going to be very light and strong enough. A pig enclosure could also be built in bamboo, but I would want to use 4 inch material for the main beams and 2 inch material with thick walls, for the uprights. Much lighter than wood but it is still going to weigh a few hundred pounds

It's very cheap to get things custom made, so it might also be possible just to put four wheels on something.
 
Dale Hodgins
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The economics of using a buffalo instead of a tractor.

A good buffalo cost about $1,000.
...
A suitable small tractor is $3,000 to $5,000
......
Buffalo can pull a harrow or plow. It can skid logs. It can pull a cart.

It eats trees and grasses from the farm.

When well-trained, they can stay put and then come to the handler, when called.

They are self-replicating. About every two years, you can sell a calf for $1,000

It cost about $6 a day to pay the handler.
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A tractor can do pretty much the same things. The tractor is probably better at pulling a plow or harrow, but not as good at pulling logs.

The tractor will need fuel and repairs.

They don't come when you call them and they are not self-replicating.

It costs about $6 a day to pay the man who drives the tractor.
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There are torrential rains. Tractors get stuck. Buffalo are comfortable in mud beyond their shoulders. They don't seem to get stuck.

I'm sure there are some very good tractor operators. If I were operating the tractor , I expect that 80% of my time would be spent extracting myself from the mud, or repairing the tractor. When working on slopes, I would eventually roll the tractor, breaking my spine in the process.

The buffalo wins. It wasn't even close.
...........
The man and buffalo in the picture, are doing exactly what shouldn't be done on steep tropical slopes. They are plowing down corn stubble and he planned to replant corn. He had perfect control over the animal, who is very docile.

We fed our vegetable scraps to the buffalo, and we shared rambutan fruit with the man. Older workers sometimes have trouble finding work. I would gladly hire this guy, because he's so good with buffalo. Let the young men do the back breaking stuff.
IMG-20190823-WA0020.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG-20190823-WA0020.jpg]
 
Dale Hodgins
master pollinator
Posts: 8825
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
733
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Lots of thoughts on how to feed the animals on crop residues, in this thread.

https://permies.com/t/124796/Sisters-continuous-cropping-tropics-food

... Goat meat doesn't enjoy the same popularity as pork, and it's probably not as economic to produce. Goat cheese, is quite valuable, particularly if it is shipped overseas. Here in Canada, it goes for about $55 a kilogram, retail. The market will probably end up being a lot closer, but we're going to want to stuff our bags with something to get to the maximum weight limit, whenever we travel. I like that it's not so dependant on refrigeration, as if we were trying to store and sell milk.
 
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