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Pig Feed: a clearer understanding

 
Tim Southwell
Posts: 116
Location: Hamilton, MT
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When considering a Free Choice Grain and Pastured Salad Bar combo for pig rearing from wiener to slaughter, can anyone comment on the approx ratio of grain to pasture the pig will consume? I am looking to put our herd on free choice this spring while rotating on a daily basis. Understanding that a pig will consume approx 1000# of feed during its life cycle (wiener to slaughter weight), I wonder how that breaks down combining free choice & pastured grasses / legumes.?. I have an organic grain option I can feed free choice, but want to better understand the tonnage I would be need to secure knowing they will be on lush pastures daily. Any clarity on this point is appreciated.

Thanks,
 
Julia Winter
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Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
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Hi, I'm not an expert by any means, but in case you haven't found Walter Jeffries' farm in Vermont on the web, I'd look there. He's been pasturing pigs for years and selecting for those that do well in that situation. He's worked out some deals to get whey from nearby dairies (I think) and apparently dairy complements pasture very well when it comes to pigs.

Search around and you'll find a lot of good advice!
 
Tim Southwell
Posts: 116
Location: Hamilton, MT
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Thanks Julie.

I'm aware of Walter's operation at Sugar Mountain, and we are looking at the milk alternative to grain. No dairies close by, so it means buying a Jersey and dealing with another level of care / maintenance. We are also looking at sprouting grain as an alternative to simply eating 'as is'. I just wonder if anyone knows what percentage of diet the pig gets from pasture as compared to other sources. The quest for knowledge continues!
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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If you don't have dairy as an available resource consider eggs. We keep about 300 hens without any commercial hen feed / grain feeds. Their primary job is to organic pest control, we live just up mountain of a marsh. They break apart the manure patties and also eat rodents. A side benefit is they produce tens of thousands of eggs. We feed the eggs to our pigs, concentrating the eggs towards the smaller pigs where we get the most nutritional leverage. By cooking the eggs we double the available protein and help resolve the biotin antagonist problem. In the winter the hens eat pigs, that is meat scraps from our weekly slaughter of pigs. This makes up for the insects they get during the warm season out on pasture.

One of the great things about pigs, and chickens, is they are omnivores and can eat many different foods. Use the resources you have. Grain isn't evil, just expensive. Thus we don't buy commercial hog or chicken feed / grain. We do get a little spent barley mash from a local brew pub (I would love 10x as much) and we get some whey (need about 4x as much). See this page for a break down of what we feed and keep in mind it all varies somewhat with the season and availability. Pasture is our foundation at about 80% of our pigs's diet.

http://SugarMtnFarm.com/pigs

-Walter
 
Mike Hart
Posts: 15
Location: Zone 7b, Georgia.
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My advice is just to start doing it and go from there. The amount my pigs eat varies by time of year, pasture condition, etc. Also, if you don't give them what they consider enough to eat then they might go looking on their own with disastrous connotations for your vegetable garden.

Walter do you pen those chickens at night or are they one their own? You might consider selling them as survivor chickens - I know if I were in your area that I would prefer a locally hardy breed rather than something from a catalog with fancy colors.
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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Mike Hart wrote:Walter do you pen those chickens at night or are they one their own? You might consider selling them as survivor chickens - I know if I were in your area that I would prefer a locally hardy breed rather than something from a catalog with fancy colors.


No, we don't pen them. We have a large pack of livestock guardian herding dogs that keep out predators, literally eating them. And as you note, I like survivors. Long ago we did have some breeds that were not survivors, such as the Barred Rock, which although I thought they were pretty I finally gave up on them in favor of those who thrive here.

-Walter
 
neil mock
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in my limited experience with pigs, if given the choice, they will eat grain.

we give ours a small grain ration in the AM, ( very small ~.25 kilo/animal). they devour it, even if they are litterall standing belly deap in garden waste, all else will be ignored if they have the grain option.
 
Jeff Hodgins
Posts: 193
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True but they will only eat 3 to 4 kgof dry grain mature pig and they will continue to eat huge amounts of greens afterwards they can only eat so much grain but they can keep going and going on grass
 
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