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Large(re) pig operation

 
John Malayter
Posts: 4
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Hello all, long time lurker but I do have a question.

We raise pasture pigs on our small 0rganic farm and its apparent that I need more inventory i.e. Pigs! Right now everything is on the small paddocks and moved when we can, the property can handle about 15 large pigs but if we sell 3-4 per month those don't last long so here's my question.

We as farmers don't have expendable income to put in a large facility to farrow and raise these animals so are their any ideas on how to up my number of animals and keep my facility sustainable and cheap to build. Ps. I have access to a lot of woods on our property........

My goal? I'd like to farrow 1 pig per month, giving me 8-16 piglets per birth, I'd keep as many piglets as possible for 6-8 months up until processing.....if this makes any sense! I would then have enough pigs on the ground at any given time to satisfy my customers.

Now I don't want to confine these animals however ther will home confinement with these number, strictly for farrow, gestation etc.

Thanks for the hospitality and hope you'all have some good ideas

John
 
Tim Wells
Posts: 119
Location: Essex, England, 51 deg
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Can you tell us more about your current operation?



 
John Malayter
Posts: 4
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Ok, right now I'm moving about 2-4 pigs per month and raising them behind electric wire on pasture paddocks that are rotated when the need arises. I feed them a non GMO diet as well as as many scraps that I can find. Right now I have 2 bred sows, one boar, 2 - 175 lbs pigs for inventory and 5, 5-6 week old sow and cut babies. Really not many!

I currently have very little infrastructure, house the pigs in old truck cabs that can be moved but loading is a challenge and has to built and rebuilt depending where the pigs are at the time.

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Barry Fitzgerald
Posts: 43
Location: Welland, Ontario, Canada
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Hi John, Where are you located? I would not like to farrow in the winter time around here without a nice warm barn.
I am having a problem with the math. You stated your property can hold 15 large hogs, and you want to farrow every month. I realize commercial operations aim for 3 farrowings a year from a sow but 2 is better in the long run. So 1 boar + 6 breeding sows + an inventory of min 48 piglets from 0 to 6 months of age=55 pigs. I don't know how to work that, but let us know if you find a way.
 
John Malayter
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I'm in east tn and have done this in the winter for a long time. The math is reasonable if even a little low, that's my question. How do you keep production up or even expand and keep it sustainable? I've farrowed plenty in the depths of winter with no more than truck toppers and maybe a heat lamp if they're close enough and surprisingly I've lost very little from the cold but most from getting layed on. However I cannot continue to work this way particularly if I want to sell 4-5 300 pigs every month.

 
Tim Wells
Posts: 119
Location: Essex, England, 51 deg
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production of finished pigs?
sustainable in that you keep good breeders and expand markets?

sell the weak animals and keep the strong for breeding

find ways to increase nutrition, fertilize forage, introduce new plant species, hustle new free food, bring more food in off farm, save your own seed plant fodder crops

reduce costs of operation, fencing from on site timber?

what are your limitations to expansion and production?



 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1302
Location: Central New Jersey
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Don't forget to do the arithmetic on how many pigs you are going to have on the land at any given time in this process. Say you're starting out, this month you farrow one sow, next month another, etc.

And in x months, the first sow delivers, and you have those pigs for 6 or 7 months, in x +1 months, next sow, add x more pigs, etc.

So at some point you are looking at 6x(birth rate) pigs on the land not yet ready for sale and you are carrying them. Say 8 per litter, you've got 48 pigs you're carrying for sale at that six month mark.
 
John Malayter
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Peter, exactly! This is why I'm asking for a stainable way to account accomplish this.

This is my beginning plan ---- So let's say I have 8 pigs ( on the low side) per month per sow, after 6-8 weeks these get weened and the sow go's back to the pasture and the babies get moved to where they cannot see mamma, next month new sow and new babies, six weeks those babies get moved with this other littleuns and so on.

After an as of yet unknown time frame these littleuns get moved to a new paddock to make way for the new batch of new-be's and this process will be to keep the pigs moving to new paddocks/pastures until they get to size and sold.

The only thing that bothers me is keeping them cooped up for the 6 weeks but those babies are such a pain in the a$$ and get into everything so its probably not bad to train them to a hot wire while they're confined.

Thoughts?
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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John Malayter wrote:We as farmers don't have expendable income to put in a large facility to farrow and raise these animals so are their any ideas on how to up my number of animals and keep my facility sustainable and cheap to build.


Keep your infrastructure costs as low as you can. Barns are not really necessary. We're in Vermont which is a much colder climate and we've kept pigs outdoors year round for twelve years. We have about 400 pigs with about sixty breeders running in multiple boar centric herds. They live, breed and farrow on pasture using about 70 acres with managed rotational grazing. Primarily at any time we're using about 40 acres that rotates year to year over the 70 acres (larger area for future expansion) with a central ten acres that is used each year with shorter rests. In the winter we pull the pigs into the central most five to ten acres as the snow pack develops for winter paddocks where we have deep bedding packs that compost to generate heat in open sheds and an open greenhouse. Our biggest infrastructure is the fencing followed by water setup and then the simple open sheds. Cheap. Simple.

John Malayter wrote:Ps. I have access to a lot of woods on our property........


Woods is not very rich in food value. Seasonally it may have some things like acorns if you're lucky but not much most of the time. Our pastures are a mix of woods, brush and open ground forages. Think savanna style.

In our pastures we plant:
soft grasses (bluegrass, rye, timothy, wheat, etc);
legumes (alfalfa, clovers, trefoil,vetch, ect);
brassicas (kale, broccoli, turnips, etc);
millets;
amaranth;
chicory; and
other forages and herbs.

Exactly what varieties will depend on your local climate and soils. I avoid the grasses and such that turn toxic with drought, frost or other stress as they make our management system too complex.

I prefer perennials or things that self-reseed. Some things labeled as annuals are actually perennials in our climate because we get early snows that protect their roots over the winter - e.g., kale, broccoli, etc.

In our winter paddocks we plant during the warm months things like pumpkins, sunflowers, sunchokes, beets, mangels, sugar beets, etc. These become fall and winter food for the livestock.

Seed companies we buy from include: Johnny's, Hancock, High Mow, Bakers and a couple of others I'm not thinking of at the moment.

Planting up your pasture to things the pigs can easily digest, to orchards, to easy crops that fit your skills all helps.

John Malayter wrote:My goal? I'd like to farrow 1 pig per month


A good plan. So that would be 12 farrowings per year. If two per sow per year that would be six sows which is the bare minimum justify a boar in many setups. I figure that to justify the cost of a boar it takes three sows if by land (pastured) and six if by seed (feeding grain). Figure eight piglets per litter weaned and you've got about 100 finished pigs per year or about 8 pigs sold per month.

John Malayter wrote:giving me 8-16 piglets per birth


Optimism is always good in farming.

John Malayter wrote:I'd keep as many piglets as possible for 6-8 months up until processing.....if this makes any sense! I would then have enough pigs on the ground at any given time to satisfy my customers.


Do a business model and spreadsheet to see how the numbers run. Then remember that these things are not even as good as the assumptions and reality is always different. Life happens. Deadstock is.

John Malayter wrote:Now I don't want to confine these animals however ther will home confinement with these number, strictly for farrow, gestation etc.


We do it all without confinement - all out on pasture - and in a much colder climate. We still have snow on the ground April 25th. Snows start in October or November. I think in Tennessee it should be much easier as long as you set things to drain and stay dry through mud season.

John Malayter wrote:let's say I have 8 pigs ( on the low side) per month per sow, after 6-8 weeks these get weened and the sow go's back to the pasture and the babies get moved to where they cannot see mamma, next month new sow and new babies, six weeks those babies get moved with this other littleuns and so on. ... The only thing that bothers me is keeping them cooped up for the 6 weeks but those babies are such a pain in the a$$ and get into everything so its probably not bad to train them to a hot wire while they're confined.


At weaning we send weaner pigs to tightly fenced weaning paddocks that rotate them through a system that trains them to all the different types of fencing we use on our farm, keeps them distantly separated from the sows who go a different direction to dry and rebreed. During the weaning time we do taming of the weaner piglets and track them to roaster, finisher and breeder tracks. All of this is out on pasture, not confinement buildings so they're in a healthy sustainable environment that is low cost infrastructure. We use managed rotational grazing - key. See the training system here:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2013/09/25/south-weaner-paddock/

-Walter
 
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World Domination Gardening 3-DVD set. Gardening with an excavator.
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