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Planting pig forage for spring

 
David Mcgowan Hicks
Posts: 33
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I have a few questions which I am sure y'all can help me with. I currently work on a tiny farm, just got the job. I am taking over for someone who did not give two turds about animals or farming. We are about to send 6 pigs off to processing, which combined with currently vacant pens will give me 5 pens ranging in size from 1/8 to 1/2 acre. 3 of those pens are currently MOONSCAPE because my predecessor did not move the pigs at all last season. I am concerned that there is way too much manure in those pens (I'm gonna be adding bunch of carbon soon unless y'all advise me otherwise). I want to try to reduce feed cost drastically next spring, because my boss, the owner of the farm, has basically said that if we get pigs next year they will be my pigs, purchased and fed with my money, and any profits going into my pockets. Anyway, I was hoping to have about 6 pigs again next year and I want to start doing what I can to get those pens rehabbed so that there is actual forage for my little piggies.

My questions:

- should I add a bunch of carbon to the 3 moonscaped lots that are probably a third pig shit?
- are there any seed mixes that are suitable as pig pasture? ( I was looking at some whitetail food plot seed mixes and didn't know if they would be suitable with a few amendments or what?)
- if the deer seeds won't do, whats the short list of best pig forage? If I have to buy the types of seed individually I would rather it be less than ten species.

Thanks for your attention, I am excited about raising some pigs next year! If it matters at all I am in upstate SC, near Greenville.
 
Jordon Thompson
Posts: 12
Location: Southeast, Zone 7
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Hey David, I know this is 5 months late, but I'm curious to hear what you ended up doing on the land with your pigs. I'd like to get into raising hogs for a side income eventually.

As you know, pigs eat just about anything (blackberries, plant roots, grasses, clover, legumes, spoiled milk, apples, dead carcasses, etc). So I think anything you plant, they are going to eat and grow healthy. The problem is getting them BIG (who gets fat off of lettuce and dandelion?). Are you going to be importing grain for feed into the system? This is why a lot of people who are trying to raise hogs in a sustainable way will rotate them in the woods to harvest fallen acorns, chestnuts, or any other "grain tree" as well as persimmons and mulberries. You should read Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture by J. Russell Smith. Also, have you thought about planting sunroot aka jersualem artichoke? They are a high calorie food that produce a lot of biomass with zero care. The hogs love to dig up the roots and will eat the stalks too. However, your boss may be completely pissed that you planted something that many would call an invasive weed. Here's a forum on the plant that you may have run across before:

http://permies.com/t/53764/plants/great-big-thread-sunchoke-info

Also, there's a couple in Travelers Rest who has a small pig operation. I've spoken with him before over email, and he seems really nice. I'd bet they would be able to answer a lot of your questions. Here's their website:

http://fraylick.com/

Hope this is helpful, if even a tiny bit. Also, I live in TR and am trying to grow lots of food, so I'd love to collaborate in the future, even if it's just trading advice.
 
eric koperek
Posts: 100
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TO: David McGowan Hicks
FROM: Eric Koperek = erickoperek@gmail.comn
SUBJECT: Pasture for Pigs
DATE: PM 6:07 Monday 16 May 2016
TEXT:

1. Broadcast Dutch White Clover = Trifolium repens at 12 pounds of live seed per acre. You can start to graze the clover when it reaches its mature height = 6 inches. Dutch White Clover is sweet so pigs eat it readily. My relatives in Austria have been pasturing pigs on clover for 800 years. This is very old technology that dates back to when knights went clanking about in armor. Pigs do well on clover but they grow more slowly than if fed a mixed diet of corn, soybeans, and pasture. Butcher pigs immediately they reach 6 months = 180 days old. 6 month old pigs won't have swine-flavored meat so there is no need for castration. 180-day pigs are very lean. If you want more fat then feed some grain (any kind will do) along with clover pasture. Clover raised, corn fattened hogs were the standard in colonial America.

2. Pig manure makes great fertilizer. Plant pig pastures to small grains and get big crops! Here is an easy way to grow "organic" wheat: Broadcast Dutch White Clover at 12 pounds per acre. Let clover grow 1 full year. Fence off clover then turn in pigs. Do NOT put rings in hogs' snouts or they will not be able to root. Pigs will tear up ground just like a rototiller, uprooting all vegetation. Broadcast spring wheat onto pig tilled field. Run sheep or cattle over field to stomp in seed. When wheat starts to head out, broadcast turnip seed over standing wheat. When wheat is harvested turnips will quickly take over the field blotting out almost all weeds. 2 weeks before turnip harvest broadcast Dutch White Clover over standing turnips. When turnips are lifted clover will carpet field and overwhelm most weeds. Let clover grow a full year then repeat rotation. No tractors, diesel fuel, fertilizer, herbicides or insecticides needed. Expect 40 bushel per acre yields (2,400 pounds per acre) in most temperate climates with at least 40 inches of rainfall during the growing season. Yields can reach 80 bushels per acre with plentiful rainfall or irrigation. This technology dates back to early Renaissance Europe.

3. "Hogging Down" crops dates back to the Middle Ages. Plant crops that pigs like to eat (turnips and clover are good choices). When crops are mature turn in hogs and let animals feed themselves. Hogging down corn was a labor saving technique widely used in colonial America.

4. Most animals change lipids into one particular kind of storage fat. Pigs store fats just as they eat them = no biochemical conversion to a "standard" fat. Thus, pigs fed on corn (or other grain) will have solid lard. Pigs fed on acorns will have semi-solid almost liquid lard that drains away leaving very lean meat = Malaga Hams. You can control the texture and fat content of pork by varying what you feed pigs.

5. Mulberry trees make good "mast" for pigs. A mature mulberry tree can feed up to 6 hogs for 2 to 3 months during the summer. Space mulberry trees widely = no closer than their mature height. This ensures high mulberry yields and ample sunlight for maximum forage production. You can develop permanent pig pastures by planting a wide variety of mast = fruit and nut trees into mixed-species cover crops selected for grazing pigs.

6. Use pigs to clean up fallen fruit in orchards. This helps break insect reproduction cycles.

ERIC KOPEREK = erickoperek@gmail.com

end comment
 
thomas rubino
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Location: latitude 47 N.W. montana
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Pigs will moon scape almost any smaller pen they go into. Pig manure isn't that hot, I would just till it in. I have planted oats , rye, barley, hairy vetch, clover, buckwheat.I have heard that beets are good but i haven't tried them. I did try some wildlife mix this year but I'm not letting the pigs into that pen this season. My experience with pigs is, what they don't like they will eat last... I buy and feed my pigs grain as well as the forage in the small pens. They also get anything from the compost bucket and later in the summer apples & garden excess. The small pens that I have are only a short treat for them ... 3 piggys can do a lot of destruction in just a few days. A few weeks to a month and I give them access to the next pen . I follow behind them and rototill in the new fertilizer and then plant a crop there for us . Early the next spring I start all over.
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alex Keenan
Posts: 487
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I am going to give some advice that may or may not work for you.
First you do not give climate zone so I cannot give exact advice.
However,
1) sun chokes which have already been mentioned.
2) Ground nuts which are a vining plant with edible root.
3) Dandelion roots
4) burdock
5) parsnips
6) carrots if soil loose enough
7) tiger lily roots are edible
hardy kale
9) clovers that have already been talked about
10) hosta montana
11) Garlic - lots of calories if pigs will eat them. select a very mild type
12) Broad beans can be planted in the Autumn or the Spring depending on the variety.
13) several types of onions
14) winter peas

If you want a fall feed
1) radishes
2) edible canna lily
3) cow peas
4) winter squashes
5) pumpkins
6) potatoes
7) corn

What you are really looking at is using the pigs to harvest what every you grow turning it into bacon.
So you are looking for calories, fat, and protein.
If the pigs do their job you will have very little left in the area when they get done.
 
Ivan Weiss
Posts: 172
Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
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Everything Eric Koperek said, plus chicory. Sow chicory with the clover. The clover will fix nitrogen, which will feed the chicory foliage. The chicory will send down deep tap roots, which will break up the soil, and also will enable the clover root system to develop more quickly. The hogs will graze the clover, but they will root up the chicory, and will dine like lords on those roots. Introducing comfrey will have the same effect. Hogs love comfrey. Whatever small bits of root the hogs leave will grow anew.

But the basis for it all is that Dutch White Clover.
 
alex Keenan
Posts: 487
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If you are going the chicory route, remember not all varieties of chicory are the same.

Consider 'Brunswick' and 'Magdeburg' which are large-rooted varieties that are grown for use as a coffee substitute. The roots are 2 inches thick at the top and 12 inches long. 'Brunswick' has deeply cut leaves like dandelion leaves, while the 'Magdeburg' has erect, undivided leaves. The leaves, somewhat resembling those of mustard and turnips, are about 15 inches long and grow in a whorl from the top of the bulbous roots. 'Magdeburg' is the more vigorous of the two varieties.


The most useful variety of Comfrey, Bocking 14, which was named after the location of the trial grounds in Essex, England.
The most important property of Bocking 14 is that it is sterile. That means it does not self-seed so it does not spread like wild Comfrey.
But once you have Comfrey in the garden you will never get rid of it as even the smallest piece of root will regrow vigorously.

Some varieties of Sunchokes tend to also grow from very small pieces of roots.
That is why some people think of them as invasive.
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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David Mcgowan Hicks wrote:pens are currently MOONSCAPE because my predecessor did not move the pigs at all last season.


First thing is to get the pigs off those area, onto new paddocks and setup for managed rotational grazing. See this page for basics and follow links there for more details on how we do it:

http://SugarMtnFarm.com/pigs

Look in particular to the grazing section.

David Mcgowan Hicks wrote:I am concerned that there is way too much manure in those pens (I'm gonna be adding bunch of carbon soon unless y'all advise me otherwise).


Adding carbon is good. Some saw dust from pine or hardwoods may fare you well.

David Mcgowan Hicks wrote:I want to try to reduce feed cost drastically next spring, because my boss, the owner of the farm, has basically said that if we get pigs next year they will be my pigs, purchased and fed with my money, and any profits going into my pockets.


I have done all the feed from our pastures so the inputs can be reduced to zero for grain feed, etc. But that sacrifices growth rate thus taking longer to get to market size. They're also leaner. This is okay for me with my year round production and developed pastures. You may want to ease into it. Again see the above linked page and look at the feeding section and then follow through to related articles.

David Mcgowan Hicks wrote:Anyway, I was hoping to have about 6 pigs again next year and I want to start doing what I can to get those pens rehabbed so that there is actual forage for my little piggies.


Wise. Starting developing the pastures now will pay off in the long run.

David Mcgowan Hicks wrote:are there any seed mixes that are suitable as pig pasture?


We plant:
soft grasses (bluegrass, rye, timothy, wheat, etc);
legumes (alfalfa, clovers, trefoil, vetch, ect);
brassicas (kale, broccoli, turnips, etc);
millets (White Proso Millet, Japanese Millet, Pearl Millet);
amaranth;
chicory; and
other forages and herbs.

Exactly 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.

We blend seed by spreading a tarp, setting out barrels, pouring a little of each seed we want in the mix into the barrel and then when it has all the types and is about 80% full we close the barrel and roll it around to mix.

We seed by hand broadcasting with the mob, the storm and the frost. Over seed a bit. Smaller seeds do better than larger seeds this way but even oats work. If seeding sunflower or other large seeds where grackles and other birds will steel try first seeding radishes a week or two before to create a non-tasty cover. Then seed the larger seeds.

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

-Walter
in Vermont
USDA Zone 3
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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