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pigs in the woods

 
matt sorrells
Posts: 126
Location: Canton, NC
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We have a corner between two pastures that is wooded. We have been considering putting pigs in there and have several questions that some with more experience might know.

The area is triangle shaped, and between 3/4 acre and 1 acre. It is hilly (not a side of a mountain, but two 60 foot hills and two valleys) and the trees that are on it are either tiny (3 inches thick) or huge (foot thick to 3 foot). There is a valley that is pretty much the watershed for part of our pasture area (fed by around 5 acres of land).

My ideas are to put in a dug in earthen hide for them to conserve heat and make more bacon instead of producing body heat on cold days and to make use of a raised roadbed in the bottom and put a vertical pipe on the drain to force water to pond as a water source for them (use the road as a dam). My questions are would the pigs kill the big trees (oaks and maples) and how best would I cause the land to hold the water from the field.

I know you can "seal" a pond by putting pigs in there and letting them stir up the ground and the silt and poo they produce will seal the ground to an extent, but I'm trying to think of working smarter and not toting water. Maybe putting piglets in that "pond" area while they're growing and when they get bigger install the vertical pipe to let the pond fill....

Ideas?

I've attached a picture from our house of the area I'm thinking about. The red line is the existing fenceline with the cows on 2 of the threes sides and the potential fenceline to contain the pigs. You can see the hills inside it and the valley that I think could collect water. There is a spring down there too, but I couldnt find it by digging down a foot with the trackhoe. It comes up 20 or 30 further feet down the valley.
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alex Keenan
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I like the idea of letting the pigs work the wet area and slowly filling it with water to make the pigs work farther out.
 
David Dodge
Posts: 34
Location: College Station, TX
bee trees woodworking
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My pigs like to rub on the big trees and may knock a little bark loose but they are not killing them for sure. They will uproot small trees and knock over dead ones, and may cause damage to shallow roots. Not sure about the maples but your oaks should be fine.

Are you trying to make a pond for drinking water or for mud wallows? They'll make their own wallows with any amount of water on the ground. If you have a Trackhoe and some clay content in your soil you can easily make a small pond. Even if it doesn't seal well at first it probably will after they get in there pigging it up a bit. I wouldn't use the road as a dam personally, especially if it's your main road. Too much risk of undermining the soil structure under the road. I'd make a small dam with an overflow that will flow into your road pipe.

They'll make a bit of a mess, especially if left there without rotation, but having the pigs in the woods is a good way to keep them cool and happy in the summer and fat on acorns in the fall.
 
matt sorrells
Posts: 126
Location: Canton, NC
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ok - that brings up a valid point - do they need separate water sources for wallows and drinking water? I was thinking of making a pond area to take care of both needs. Not a 2 inch deep area, mind you, but perhaps 1 to 2 feet deep.

The road is an old road that is no longer in use, and to be honest nearly impassible with the springs that seem to well up from it.

My wife and I were looking yesterday at how fast they grow, and it seems possible to get some in the spring and butcher in the fall and not have to overwinter them. Is this correct?
 
alex Keenan
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You have a spring!!!
That changes everything.
Can you put a spring house which is nothing more than a box of gravel on this so you can tap the spring water?
If so do you have any property down hill from the spring?
Ponds are good. A working spring box with water you can pipe is so much better!!!
 
matt sorrells
Posts: 126
Location: Canton, NC
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There is flowing water up up to several gallons per minute just down the valley, but I wanted to keep the pigs upstream of that in the area pictured. I was hoping to tap into the spring by digging down, but it was apparently not where I thought it was. There is a pond(y) area maybe 100 feet further down the valley (filled in pond, but wet and mucky as far down as you can sink a stick - 3 feet +) that was a pond when I was young. Below that there is a stream flowing out.

separate water source from wallow or can I just dig out the pond area and fence it in as well?
 
alex Keenan
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There is flowing water up up to several gallons per minute just down the valley.
So can you RAM PUMP the water up to the pigs?
You should see if you can get enough pressure to run a Ram Pump.
This would depend on volume, flowrate, and pressure at the Ram Pump.
A Ram Pump may be the ticket to supplying drinking water that overflows into the pond you create.


You could put in sun chokes, ground nuts, and other roots that go wild in the area for the hogs to eat.
Think letting the hogs work the ground and planting root and greens the pigs will eat.
Then keep them off until crop is ready for pigs to harvest.
You can flood, wallow, drain, plant, pigout grazing, flood (repeat)
You can use eletric fence if pigs are trained young to keep them out of areas you are planting until time to feed.
 
matt sorrells
Posts: 126
Location: Canton, NC
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How much water do you need for a ram pump? This picture is of the stream a hundred or so feet down hill from the area, and only about 25 feet in elevation according to my phone altimeter.

Upon looking at it, I realize there is no point of reference for scale. The stream is around a foot and a half wide and an inch or so deep.
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Jd Gonzalez
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Location: Virginia,USA zone 6
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forest garden greening the desert hunting trees
 
matt sorrells
Posts: 126
Location: Canton, NC
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awesome! I have lots more to learn now on how much water I'd need and how big a ram to build, but yet another "technology" I never knew existed. I'm planning to use the water from this ram to water the cows and the pigs and have the overflow make a wallow for them which would then eventually trail off back down the valley and refill the creek that I'm using. I need to dig out the old settling pond to see if I can get water there (if the spring is underground there) or if I need to get it downhill. I can get it down there for sure, but then my supply pipe would be 200 feet long (standpipe ready) and delivery pipe even longer, maybe 300 feet, but only 25 foot higher in elevation.

I think that many of the parts of Engineer775 pump setup is for potable drinking water - I dont see why you couldnt just run a drive pipe from the source (earthen dam) to the ram. The spring box seems superfluous except to eliminate silt. Great ideas though.

Thanks for the ideas!! REALLY
 
alex Keenan
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If you need the math for the ram pump try this PDF
http://www.bae.ncsu.edu/extension/ext-publications/water/use/ebae-161-92-ram-pump-jennings.pdf
You should be able to make some rough calculations based on these formulas.
 
matt sorrells
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Location: Canton, NC
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Thank ya'll for your great help so far. We checked flow today, and it came out to be around 4 gallons a minute, at 25 feet below the pig enclosure in elevation. I assume the summer flow is a little bit less than that, but not much. 5760 gallons a day is pretty good and I'd say usable. Also, with us developing the uphill pasture into better soil, then hopefully there will be more water held in the soil and released into the spring in the future.
 
alex Keenan
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At 4 gallons a minute and 25 feet you can alwasy put in solar powered pumps to a holding tank.
It would appear you have a number of options available. You might also have ability to put in a windmill to move the water up the 25'.
Good luck.
 
matt sorrells
Posts: 126
Location: Canton, NC
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cant go windmill as I'm in a valley directly, but indirectly between two mountains and the wind is very mild. Also, this is in the middle of the woods, so solar wouldnt work either as far as I'm aware.

Thanks to everyone for the info, especially you alex. great info!
 
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