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keeping pigs through winter in zone 4

 
Andrew Sheets
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So I was I was reading sepp holzers book and it mentions that pigs can root in the snow for tuner and such. Now I told that to the farmers that I'm staying with and they said they would not be able to root in frozen ground.. As well as not being interested.
Now I ask you permies.. Can pigs root in frozen ground, if even interested?
Assuming that there is sufficient forge/ fodder crop
( turnips, sun chokes, radish, poatos Etc.)
Thanks
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Posts: 694
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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It's true pigs have to work ridiculously hard to root through frozen ground... but how often is the ground genuinely frozen under a layer of snow?

It's the dry frigid events that freeze the ground, under the insulation of a blanket of snow the surface soil somewhat balances out with the warmer deeper soil [so far as I know, if someone has evidence to the contrary please present it.]

As for keeping pigs through winter in Zone 4, google "Sugar Mountain Farm" [and search these boards for the poster Walter Jeffries.] He's doing just that [raising pigs on pasture year-round in zone 4A] as a career.
 
Andrew Sheets
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I have read some of sugar mountain farms info, and it seems great. I have no problem with the good information on pasture raised pigs. That's the only way I want to raise pigs, or least try. I want it to be as sustainable as possible.
I have told The old farmer/ homesteader im living with about sugar mountain farm and how they use mostly forge and less suppalemted food and he thinks he is lyeing. He is so convinced that pigs can't get big enough on pasture and have to be fed grain. He is also one who thinks cattle should be feed grain and if something is bigger its better.
We live in about 2 hours east from sugar mountain farm so very simeler claimant. I also wanted to mention that I would love for more people to chime in with good examples of pastured pigs with little supplemented feed like pig ration/ grain, for some good inspiration. I will also look threw the forum and see what I can find.
Thanks for yoir impute
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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It's possible to raise them through the winter in zone 4 doing the pasture thing. I've had the opportunity to visit Sugar Mountain Farm. It's legit and they get it done well. They really have it nailed down from what I could see. Plus, Walter has tons of data all over his website and here. You really can't make it up. There are a few secrets though.

Pasture pigs take longer to finish and will be leaner. Supplementing with dairy, bread and spent brewers' grains will help them bulk up faster. Hay and whey will get you through winter but the pigs likely won't be gaining a lot of weight like they do in the warmer months.

Thick bedding of hay will breakdown and help keep pigs warmer. It also ferments and becomes more digestible, so the pigs tend to eat more of it. Keeping lots of chickens and ducks around helps to clean up the pig shit and provide eggs for weening piglets as a protein boost. Cook em.

Of course... the one thing you'll always hear is that the pig genetics are the major contributing factor to overwintering healthy pasture pigs. I think that's spot on. You gotta breed for success. Keep the best, eat the rest.

Good luck it can be done.
 
Andrew Sheets
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Thanks for the great info! It's incurgeing to see people have succes with a good natrual system.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Keep in mind the very best, most expensive pork in the world grows free-range in a savanna aka silvopasture.

EDIT: admittedly that is in a much warmer place.
 
Todd Parr
Posts: 572
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Mark Sheppard (restoration agriculture) is raising his pigs without grain here in WI.
 
Andrew Sheets
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I'll look into Mark Shepard. Now with some of the best pork in world such as in Spain, do they give added grain as well to the silvopasture?
I'm not agenst grain it just comes down to cost and making a closed loop system.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Andrew Sheets wrote:I'll look into Mark Shepard. Now with some of the best pork in world such as in Spain, do they give added grain as well to the silvopasture?
I'm not agenst grain it just comes down to cost and making a closed loop system.


From everything I've ever read, the Jamon Iberico is raised 100% on the food provided by the land, zero human supplied 'feed' whatsoever.

Now, it's possible that there are caretakers who seed good stuff [corn, squash, etc] into the rooting disaster zones to grow some additional forage the hogs can self harvest. But I don't think that happens either.

EDIT for clarification: when I say Jamon Iberico I don't mean the breed itself, but rather that top rated ridiculously expensive gourmet pork produced with that breed via free-ranging on the Dehesa.
 
Andrew Sheets
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I have had that pork in Seattle and oh it was good!
 
Walter Jeffries
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Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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Andrew Sheets wrote:So I was I was reading sepp holzers book and it mentions that pigs can root in the snow for tuner and such. Now I told that to the farmers that I'm staying with and they said they would not be able to root in frozen ground.. As well as not being interested.
Now I ask you permies.. Can pigs root in frozen ground, if even interested?
Assuming that there is sufficient forge/ fodder crop
( turnips, sun chokes, radish, poatos Etc.)
Thanks


I grow acres of beets, turnips, kale, rape, broccoli, mangels, radishes, sunchokes, pumpkins and other things during the warm months in our winter paddocks which the pigs have made essentially weed free and fertile. Then in the fall we rotate our pigs into these paddocks where they reside for the winter, eating the crops and re-fertilizing the soil for the next growing season. This works very well. No, they do not root on frozen ground, and most winters we have about 4' of snow pack. As winter comes on they eat up the crops and then they're on hay, canned pasture, for the winter. But, our pigs don't root a lot in the summer either. Mostly they graze the easy top forages. See: http://SugarMtnFarm.com/pigs Managed rotational grazing is key for us.

-Walter
 
Steve Hoskins
Posts: 65
Location: NW lower Michigan
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I'm in northern lower Michigan, just above the 45th parallel. When it's below about 10 degrees F, the pigs typically stay on top of the packed snow, except around the springs, and under brushpiles. When things warm up, they break up the pack, and turn it over to find some roots. My pastures are still wild and wooded, so they can usually find something to munch on, even after they eat most of the planted forage.

Lake michigan (half a mile away) has not frozen, and this winter has been mild, so they have been able to root a lot. I have a feeling there will still be plenty of Jerusalem artichokes in the spring... They never manage get them all.

So, yes. The pigs can root through snow, sometimes. Last year, with the lake frozen over, our winter was more like a Vermont or Canadian winter, and they did very little rooting. The only place they could find dirt was around water; something Sepp has everywhere.
 
Brianna LaRose
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Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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Our pigs don't root in winter the ground is definitely hard usually (not this year though they were turning over pasture in +16 on Christmas Eve)
Our pigs have a large amount of pasture but when the frost sets in and the snow gets deep and packs they stay closer to their huts live on forage stored squash and grain. But they do quite well but lots of bedding is key.
 
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