While reading "Harris on the Pig", I came across a feed name I had never seen before....Mangel wurzel. Apparently it was a popular fodder beet grown as pig feed during Harris's era. I did a Google search and numerous places have seed available. A description of the plant says it is quite drought resistant due to its long root. Sounds like it might work in the Texas panhandle. Does anyone have any experience growing this for their pigs? I did a search on the pig forum and didn't get any hits.
A friend of mine grows a variety of golden mangelwurtzel beet for the table. I made one into a huge beet and kale salad.
All the usual guidelines for beets apply. They are heavy feeders, and they don't like too much soil compaction.
I would make sure the mineral and nutrient resources are there, and maybe grow a green manure mix suitable for compaction and nitrogen-fixing, crimp-rolling it down to plant the beets. Mine like horse manure and ramial chip mulch, but I am working on the urban garden scale.
I would also suggest checking out some of the daikon tillage radishes. One of those might do it if the mangelwurtzels don't.
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Raised golden eckdorf in my garden last year for pigs. I realized I did nt have enough garden space and the mangels were not worth the space they took up. If you are equipped to plant them on a field scale it would be. Pigs loved them. My one raised bed of mangels fed 7 pigs 2 meals.
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Mangels are very common here in Bulgaria for cattle feed. And the seed is very cheap, about 5 euros for 20kg.
We have grown mangels for two years for our pigs and poultry. Last year we sowed an area of about 15m x 24m (so 360sqm), and having learned from our first year, we sowed in February (before the snow had all gone), late March (at our last frost date) and end of April. For each sowing we harvested half at about 12 weeks after sowing, and the other half 16-20 weeks after sowing (very large).
We had learned that the pigs
generally prefer them when smallish
eat them/take them whole - never chopped them even for piglets (sow showed them what to do)
will eat the leaf tops any time, very good for hand feeding/tempting youngsters
our boar could eat 10-15kg a day (no other feed) and would pace himself... there was never any left next morning
our lactating sows would get half their "normal" feed plus about 10kg of beets which the piglets started eating within a week of farrowing
We sowed in rows into a pig-ploughed and human raked plot. I think the mangel is particularly good because the bulk of the beet grows above ground making it very easy to hand harvest - don't know what your agricultural setup is but we are hand-powered. We have very long hot summers from May to October and we don't irrigate our fodder growing areas.
We also mixed in a good quantity of the mangel seed with our pig paddock mix (rape, kale, parsley, stubble turnip, radishes [large cooking radish and french breakfast type], beetroot, plus any old/out of date cereal/maize seeds we scrounge from local farmers). We use this mix to re-green the pig enclosures after we move them - well often we will broadcast the seed just before they are moved as we found that they push the seed in and make it harder for marauding birds to steal the seed. We then pull out all the bedding from the pig shelter in the empty paddock, spread it around and also spread the soiled bedding from our poultry accommodation over it as well. 12-16 weeks later there has been lush growth in the paddocks ready for pigs to move back into. Last year, with the weird weather, two of our paddocks had three sowings very successfully. Pigs definitely graze hard before digging up a paddock - the trick is to get the timing of a paddock-shift right before they switch into crater-digging mode.
We have tried storing mangels for use during winter - and I don't know if the critters just went off them or they didn't like the stored ones, but they were not keen unless we either starved them for 24-36 hours or boiled them up with potatoes and other veg to use as a hot slop.
Other things we grow for the pigs:
Sugar beet - pigs really love them
Tobacco (great natural wormer)
Jerusalem artichokes - we plant these in fallow paddocks, as well in cultivated rows for harvesting - a good winter stored root for pigs and chickens and geese seem to like them cut small. The pigs and birds love the leaf too.
We tried growing our own maize but we had two crops completely destroyed by wind storms, so won't bother with that this year.
Nick & Jane
posted 10 months ago
Thanks for all the input. I am now very encouraged these fodder plants can be successful in my low rainfall area.
I've grown them several years. They do well in our soil and climate. As long as other forages are available the pigs tend to eat the tops in the summer and the tubers in the fall to winter. They're very easy to scatter plant.
I too can testify to the attraction of pigs to beets and the more sugar in them, the greater the attraction! :-)
Just a question....was the sugarbeet production in the Panhandle as noted below always under irrigation??.....or is/was some of it non-irrigated acres? The long taproot may indeed be an ally in your situation.
"Sugar beets were also grown in the 1950s in Texas, mainly in Deaf Smith and other Panhandle counties. The 1954 production of sugar beets was estimated at 135,000 bushels. In the early 1960s an import ban which closed the United States's market to Cuban sugar production stimulated an increase in domestic sugar beet production. The first sugar mill for processing beets in Texas was opened at Hereford in Deaf Smith County in 1964. In that year approximately 539,000 tons were processed, and by 1967 sugar beet production in Texas yielded 663,000 tons. In 1980 the state produced a total of 386,000 tons of refined beet sugar. The leading sugar beet counties were Castro, Deaf Smith, Parmer, and Randall. "
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posted 10 months ago
Hi John. Those are some interesting facts I was not aware of. Actually my wife was born in Hereford Texas. I'm not sure if the beets were irrigated or not. I do know back then irrigation consisted of row watering, a type of flood irrigation. Now days most people use pivot irrigation. Very few people still row water because it is very labor intensive and wastes a lot of water. Our farm is in Lamb County about 60 miles south east of Hereford. I'll ask my wife's uncle what he remembers about sugar beet production in our area.
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