Kim Williams-Guillen

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since Jun 26, 2017
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My partner and I are working on establishing a sustainable and biodiverse pasture/forest reared hog silvopastoral system on our 40 acre property in southeast Michigan. We are always looking for interesting information, conversation, and advice!
Southeast Michigan Zone 6a
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Recent posts by Kim Williams-Guillen

Hi pig people--

First time pig owner here (as you may deduce from all of the questions I've been posting). We have four piglets, a young boar and half-sister gilt, 5.5 months old, and brother-sister barrow and gilt, 4 months old. The boar was already 3 months old when we got him, and between his already being pretty big and reading more about how boar taint can be managed via feed and pasturing, we did not attempt to castrate him. (The barrow was already castrated when we bought him, due to being the result of an accidental father-daughter mating).

So the problem is, we now have a super horny teenage boy of a pig, and he is mounting everyone and everything. His pen-mates seem to be very frustrated and annoyed by this behavior, and while we are thinking of breeding the gilts, we don't want to do it till they grow more. It seems like our options are to either separate him from the others, potentially leaving him lonely; or pay a vet to come and castrate him despite his advanced age (expensive and painful healing, I suspect). To me, separating them seems like the best option, but I'm concerned about him becoming depressed and lonely, as I have seen some other solitary pigs. We could divide the pen with an internal fence of wood or hog panel, which might help him still feel like part of the gang, but then I'm thinking he will just bust the fence down. We could put him with the barrow, but he tries to mount the barrow as much as he does the girls, so that would be stressful for the little guy.

We just had a perimeter fence completed around our little orchard, so that they can start to forage and play outside. Would simply having more space help relieve the behavior? He seems (ahem) "motivated" so I'm doubtful.

I'm doing additional research online and in our pig guides, but any suggestions are most welcome. Thanks!
1 year ago
I'm not sure -- I'm thinking that the only way to figure out will be to go on a distillery tour (they just started offering them) and then sampling the resulting product, ha ha. Anything for my animals, right? :P
1 year ago
Hi All

I got my hands on about 60 gallons worth of spent brewers grain in late October from our nearest microbrewery. Pigs and chickens loved it, they got good portions of the fresh stuff on a daily basis while it was still fresh. We took a good portion of it and made haylage/silage from it by layering it in large garbage bags (the extra thick kind that contractors use) with chopped hay. We used a shop vac to suck the air out of the bag, tied it up, and let it sit for a couple of weeks before feeding, and the pigs LOVED it.

Our little local brewery has more farmers interested than it can really support so we've expanded our search for spent grain to other breweries in the area. (Hooray for living in Michigan!) One is a distillery, and they are happy to send stuff our way. However, apparently they use flour as a base for their mash rather than crushed grain like in beer. They also mentioned that the copper content can be a problem for some animals. Does anyone have experience using such a mash as a feed? I imagine a flour-water slurry would be way more difficult to handle as a feed, but I don't want to turn it down without doing my due diligence.

Thanks for your thoughts!
1 year ago
Hi All -- for the sake of anyone who might have a similar problem and come across this thread in the future -- the pigs eventually got their act together and now eat apples up! They especially love the fermented apples that I put up at the end of the summer, when we were drowing in apples but didn't yet have any pigs to eat them. yay!
1 year ago

Corrie Snell wrote:I just read an article in the Art of Eating magazine titled, "Poultry and Perfection," which used interviews and farm visits and discussions with Frank Reese of Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch (and others) as its information base.  Frank Reese was quoted as saying that breed is one of the largest factors in flavor, and the author went on to taste-test three different heritage breeds of chickens raised by Frank (and so I would assume they were all fed the same stuff), and fourth and fifth varieties raised at other farms, and reported that they each had their own flavor.

I would agree with Wes on the fish meal (don't feed), and the grains and milk (do feed), as this is what my chickens ate, and they had copious amounts of fat at slaughter time.

I wonder, if one were to feed other fattening stuffs, if exactly what is being fed would produce different qualities of fat (like with corn-fed foie gras ducks, or avacodo fed pigs!).

On when to butcher, and how to age and cook it, it's being discussed now here on Permies.



Thanks for the info and link! I ended up mainly giving them scratch and letting them forage for grass on their own -- of all the things we offered them, scratch was the only thing they wanted. I'll know soon enough how they turn out. Fortunately (?) they're so big that it's extremely easy to catch them, at least compared to chickens!
1 year ago

Annie Lochte wrote:I really can't answer any of your questions but want to share this. About 15 years ago I got a couple broad breast bronze poults. A hen and Tom. Once out of the brooder and ranging about the yard my dad started feeding them Walmart dog food. About 2# a day. They grew and grew and grew. Huge. I was worried theyd taste like stale dog food, old oil or worse, but they were delishious! The Tom dressed out at 48# and I had to cut it in half to cook it... smoked one half in a large barrel smoker and oven baked the other half the next day. Probably best turkey I ever had. I can't remember exactly on the hen... I'm thinking she just went over 30#...  Frankenturkey...



LOLOLOLOL! What a great story. FORTY EIGHT POUNDS is bananas!!! I do have some dog treats that I got as pig treats, but the pigs are pretty indifferent to them. (My picky pigs are another post, haha.) Maybe it's time to teach those turkeys to fetch!
1 year ago
Hi All --

Apologies for the not-strictly-chicken posting, but wasn't sure where else to put this question.

I just acquired two lovely Bourbon Red toms for a song, they are fully grown at 2 years old. These are BIG boys, I figure they will dress out to about 25 lbs each. I'm hoping to keep one for our holiday table and sell one locally. I figure they may be a little tough, like any older bird/heritage breed; I plan to butcher a few days before thanksgiving and then let them chill in the fridge for a few days to soften the meat a bit.

With pork, my understanding is that finishing animals on a certain diet (e.g., apples or acorns) can give wonderfully sweet meat. I've not heard of the same for poultry, though I imagine better feed will produce better flavor in the end. My chickens get some regular layer feed but mainly free range and forage on local grasses and critters, and they taste great. These turkeys have been also reared free range, and I plan to do the same of providing a base feed appropriate for turkeys that they can supplement with all the grass/fallen apples/pumpkin bits/etc they would like.

I wonder, since I have a month to finish them -- are particular foods I can offer that might enhance their flavor? Any other general observations about feeding turkeys are welcome!
1 year ago

Ken W Wilson wrote:I wonder if they had more protein in their diet, if they'd eat more fruit? It seems to work that way with my chickens, but it's hard to tell for sure.



You and Lorie may be right -- these are growing pigs and so they may just need their protein! (Not that I've seen growing kids turn down sweets.) I'm sure as winter sets in and produce gets scarce, they will reevaluate their priorities!
1 year ago

thomas rubino wrote:Hi Kim,  William is right, what a pig doesn't like they will eat last.  Sometimes piggys are stubborn... (Pig headed) most years my piggys will knock you down in their excitement to have an apple... this year for some unknown piggy reason...they are turning their noses up at the Macintosh apples , however if you offer them a partially eaten honey crisp they will gobble it rite up! They must have a sweet tooth... Come winter they may change their piggys minds about those apples. And if they just won't eat them, then put them in your compost pile and chalk it up to a learning experience.  



Thanks Thomas -- I've been enjoying reading your other posts in the pig forum! Very helpful stuff as we get started. I put a few apples through the shredder and the pigs ate some of it. Some. So much for their reputation of eating anything, lol!
1 year ago

William Bronson wrote: I've no pig experience but my experience with children says they WILL eat those apples-if they are hungry enough.



Ahahahaha! Hopefully your kids don't also knock you over when you offer them a treat of peanut butter.
1 year ago