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Small scale mixed animal rotational paddock systems (pigs & sheep)  RSS feed

 
Daniel Johnson
Posts: 12
Location: Canyonville, OR
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Is there anyone else that is even doing this? I haven't been able to find much online. Here is what I am hoping to do. I would love to hear any thoughts from any of you.


Goals:
I would like to combine 2-4 pigs with the 4 sheep we have on a rotational paddock system. I know this poses quite a few challenges. These are primarily for food production, and improving the soil/land, and maybe even working up a pond in the back with the pigs through the process of gleying.

Shelter:
Here is a portable shelter concept I think can work 
  Basically taking 1-2 hog panels and bending them in a half circle then connecting them to the perimeter of the fence or a t-post or two for stability. A tarp would go over the top, and another would go on the back. To keep it lightweight I have rigged up a chain that connects them together at the bottom instead of wood. Here is a big challenge that I am not sure how to tackle: Right now we are herding our sheep from the paddock they are in to the barn every night for protection against predators. A good youtube video on the subject made this a very easy process for us. However, if we add pigs into the system would we be able to have them follow the sheep into the barn at nights? I think it makes sense for them to stay in the barns until they are out of coyote munching range which I have been told is about 100lbs. I don't believe mountain lions venture into my property so I am willing to gamble on that.

Water:
Ideally I have a hose within distance at all times to the paddock that is connected to a pig nipple, so that system would be automatic. For the sheep I was thinking of keeping a taller bucket available. Perhaps the bucket could be hanging off of a sturdy part of the fence, or even throwing a cinder block inside of it to keep it weighed down to make it harder for the pigs to tip over. The challenge would be making sure that the sheep have clean water available to them if they don't use the pig nipple. I have a black water trough that is about 12 inches high and 3 feet by maybe 1.5 feet, would pigs dirty that up if I tried using that?

Food:
90%+ forage within the paddocks. I have access to a lot of apples from the neighbors and plan on having extra vegetables to throw in for the pigs mainly. I do not want to buy any pig feed, but might use some cheap barley at the very end. I know that growing them off of forage takes longer and I am okay with that.

Breeds:
We have 4 suffolk mixed sheep since that is what we have in the area. For pigs we are thinking of the american guinea hog and/or the tamworth. We want a docile breed of pig for my petite wife as well as my young kids 3 at the ages of 3-9. Also the pig breeds above are suppose to be excellent with foraging which is crucial in this system.

Fencing:
Here is where it gets tricky. I like the idea of using hog panels maybe 4-8 different 16 ft hog panels connected with carabiners. This would be much easier to move around in my mind then an electric fence system. If the pigs/sheep are being moved every 2-3 days onto fresh forage I think that would keep them pretty happy. If the pigs start pushing on the fencing I could simply attach some cinder blocks with some wire hooks on the outside of the panels. I am most hesitant about using panels as it does not easily scale up, nor do I know anyone that has tried this. The electric fencing would scale easier if we wanted to add more animals into the mix next year. However, we are just starting out our small permaculture farm systems, and those hog panels will have some use later for sure. After typing this out it occurred to me the electric fencing route would make the nightly travel to the barn unnecessary.

If you know of anyone doing this please give a shout! If it works I will do my best to post a video.


 
Daniel Johnson
Posts: 12
Location: Canyonville, OR
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To elaborate a little more on the fencing I have an outer perimeter fence around my whole property. Most of it is sufficient I think. So the hog panel paddock system would either be closed into a loop while in the center of my fields, or opened up to wider areas when connected to the perimeter fence.
 
Jessica Milliner
Posts: 23
Location: Just outside of Asheville, NC
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Pigs can really wreck pasture, between their love of rooting and their little sharp hooves they can create a lot of damage. Very useful if you use them to turn over garden beds, as we have, but I would never risk putting them on our pasture, especially as we want to keep the grass for our cows (and hopefully sheep too one day!). We keep our pigs in the woods where their disturbance of the ground is less detrimental and they're super happy (it's where they evolved).  We  have two American Guinea Hogs, one Large Black and four Hampshires. We probably won't be getting Guinea Hogs again because they are SO very tiny and slow growing, ours are almost a year old and probably just hit 100 pounds. Also when we put them on pasture with our other pigs they didn't seem to eat any more grass than any of the others, actually less, despite their reputation though they were also the least rooty. Our large black is actually our most docile and easy to handle pig, as well as the least escapey, but I haven't met a ton of them so that could just be her personality! Also I'm sure you've already considered this but I'd never let my 3 year old in with the pigs herself, a 9 year old might be okay but a little kid could easily be knocked over by a boisterous but well intentioned pig, even a small one.  Overall pigs are great though, easy to fence and nice personalities, though expensive to feed. We've just started getting spent grain from a brewery which should help with that. Enjoy them!
 
Jessica Milliner
Posts: 23
Location: Just outside of Asheville, NC
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I've just reread your question and have a couple  more brief points- yes the pigs will dirty up the water in a trough, mostly by stepping in it, unless you maybe raised it up to where the sheep could reach it but they couldn't? Also I see you mentioned not wanting to buy feed. As vegetables and apples are great, but pretty low in protein, perhaps approach a few local cheese makers to see if they have some whey you could take away for them to incorporate for your pigs? Pigs need a certain amount of protein and their growth can be stunted and not reach their potential if they don't get enough. Also i would suggest electric fence, once your train the pigs to  it you just need one or two lines close to the ground, and the cost of hog panels really add up! Your shelter plans sound great.
 
Travis Johnson
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Pasturing pigs with sheep is just not compatible.
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1091
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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I've pastured pigs with sheep for years. They do great together but do separate the ewes from the pigs during lambing season. Once the lambs are up and running they're fine with the pigs again. I do managed rotational grazing with both, and ducks, chickens & geese as well. Pigs improve pasture. If anyone's getting too much rooting then it is probably because the rotation system isn't being done well or there are grubs and tubers beneath the soil. The pigs clean those out on the first and second pass or so and then they focus on what is above the soil, the easy food. I plant the pastures up with soft grasses, legumes, brassicas, chicory, amaranth and such. See: http://SugarMtnFarm.com/pigs and follow the grazing links.
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