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Another question for Darren: Hogs  RSS feed

 
Luke Groce
Posts: 49
Location: Louisville, KY
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My immediate and near-future farming plans have me working with hogs on an 80 rented acre farm. I've watched a number of youtube videos with Joel Salatin describing the ins and outs of his system. And while I don't see myself getting up to that kind of scale anytime soon, I do feel that my situation offers me the capacity to dial in my landscape impact and animal performance a little more tightly than his 20 acres, 600 hogs example given in one video (I'll probably have 40-50 hogs this year on 80 acres). It seems like you see a lot of examples and wisdom out there for how to graze ruminants. But if I've just got hogs supplemented with non-GMO feed and spent brewers grain, what are some tools I can use to make decisions about how to manage them: specifically where to put them, how big of an area to put them on, and how long to leave them on a given patch? Also, I'm always looking for tips on how to push them onto the grass more, but I'm hesitant to give up the grain just yet, or wait 2 years for a finished hog.

As I think more towards the future, do you have any thoughts or experiences when it comes to managing cattle and hogs together on a landscape? That's something I'm thinking of doing in the not too distant future. The fencing, watering, and supplemental hog feed seem to make keeping them together a little bit of a headache. Though I think Greg Judy overcomes that by just throwing them in there. But I wonder if there's another way to work them: have you seen leader/follower systems like this work well? The best thing I've got so far is that with the hogs desire to have that younger regrowth (at least on fescue), that would lend them towards getting access to the ground that the cattle were on 2-3 weeks prior: probably getting a small percentage of the area left in the cattle's wake, but with fewer moves (number of animals being similar). That's what I've got. But I'm always looking for examples and wisdom, and thought I'd see what you might suggest.

We are in a relatively non-brittle environment, USDA zone 6. 30-35 inches of rain. Summer droughts sometimes. the farm has some forest and silvopasture areas with significant acorn, hickory and persimmon.
 
Darren J Doherty
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Posts: 33
Location: Bendigo Region, Victoria, Australia
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Great Question Luke,

One of my bigger pig producing clients, McIvor Farm, produces around 2000 pigs a year with around 40 sows (Salatin's do around 1000 from memory and don't farrow) on 250ac of cleared pasture, where the pigs are moved every 2-4 days using two hot wire-based fencing. To date we've only used about 100 of those 250 acres as we are still in a development phase.

I would go with the leader-follower system for sure. My thing though would be to have the pigs run right behind the cows so that you can have the manure as a supplementary feed + not have your delays cause overgrazing of your sward. If you delay too much then they pigs will graze plants that are still recovering.

One of the things that will need to be decided however is how cool are you and your legals (and customers!) with the pigs cleaning up the relatively fresh cow manure? They will go for every damn pile that the cows put out and if 50 cows can put out a ton of crap a day then thats' a lot of extra feed they are getting into. I don't know if anyone has done the feed analysis on cow manure but it would be interesting now wouldn't it!

By the way a pig is not a ruminant, that would be cows, sheep and goats (among the common domesticated animals) with their polygastric digestive system, whilst pigs, like us, are monogastric.

So by all means continue to supplement the feed to your pigs with the feeds that you have available (such as the tree crops you lucky bugger!) and run with a leader follower system. If you do have the capacity to do some tree crop finishing go with that as well even if its just a few a season so that you can market some specialty lines of tree crop finished hogs!

Good on ya mate and enjoy the time!

Cheers, Darren
 
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