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Pastured pigs and grass cultivation?

Lauren Dixon


Joined: Apr 15, 2012
Posts: 62
Location: Kalispell, Montana
    
    2
In Joel Salatin's setup, he proclaims that by running pigs through his forested areas, he has been able to knock back the limited native shrubbery, and in its place, grasses and forbes have come up naturally. He has never seeded the area. He says that the regular disturbance by the pigs simply opened the niche to allow the grasses to take over. This sounds like a fantastic idea, but I am scared!!!

I purchased last year a 1.5 acre forested lot that had been neglected for a long time, and the trees are overcrowding and becoming unhealthy. My idea was to thin the trees out a bit, removing the ones in obvious states of disease/decline. We have accomplished this. Now, we are looking at a slightly healthier wooded area, but with TONS of baby doug firs coming up (I would guess 5 baby firs in every square foot), along with a population of mostly false solomon's seal, a few huckleberry bushes, wild rose, black raspberries (1 or 2 bushes total), and a few other things. I love the native flora and think it's beautiful, but mostly it won't feed me or my critters. I am thinking about how I might get a little more grass going for pastured poultry, and was wondering if by clearing the native flora in the understory of the wood lot with my two pigs, might the grass come in behind them? Or....will I find myself swimming in a sea of noxious weeds?

Our soil is VERY high in clay...90% or better...With perhaps 1/2" of topsoil. I am working to remedy this by getting my hands on every scrap of organic matter I can, composting it, and dumping it all over the place. So far, I have been successful in using the pigs to eradicate the hawkweed from the front lawn. Yes, they tore the yard up and made it look TERRIBLE at first, but I followed behind them with a wilderness seed mix, including native grasses and legumes, and already I'm seeing grasses and clovers come in where there were only weeds and compacted clay previously. Am I going to totally screw up my land by running the pigs through the woods and letting them tear that up too, or am I going in the right direction with my thinking? And, if I divide half an acre into, let's say, 10 or 12 pig paddocks, move them once per week, and let the land rest about three months before the next pig disturbance, will this be enough? Or am I pushing it too hard with that setup? Joel Salatin allows his pig paddocks a rest period of a month or so before the pigs return, and he is stocking about 30 pigs on 1/4 acre section at a time. This, to me, seems like a very high stock rate, but he's also in a very fertile area with a long growing season. I am on a mountainside with a short growing season. By the time his pigs come back to a paddock, it looks like this: http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6069/6069195499_74f8b2778b_z.jpg . I would LOVE to see grass like this on my forested areas, as I DO get grass like that around the house where it's been cleared. Pipe dream?

R Scott


Joined: Apr 13, 2012
Posts: 2332
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
    
  28
not pipe dream. You will need to seed, expecting to get exactly what you want might be a stretch. And it may take more than one step to get there (several intermediate species to do soil prep).

Have you watched the new Geoff Lawton video? http://www.geofflawton.com/sq/15449-geoff-lawton

He does a similar thing with chickens.

We have tried both, it really depends on your ground and what you want to get rid off. Pigs will root out tubers and grubs that chickens won't. Chickens will scratch the ground bare without disturbing the soil so much. I can't say which is better long term--moving them out when they have done enough work but not TOO much is really the important part, and it can go from not enough to too much in a matter of hours.


"You must be the change you want to see in the world." "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." --Francis of Assisi. "Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus
Walter Jeffries


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 907
    
  18
There are seeds in most soil that are waiting for the right conditions to sprout. This is call the seed bank. However, they may not be the seeds you want growing. I have cleared about 70 acres and run our pig herds through it (~400 pigs) and sheep herds to graze it down. I seed after felling the timber and I seed again after mob grazing areas. This has produced lush pastures of the species of forages that I want. It works very well. I simply broad cast seed with frosts, rain and mobbing. See:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2009/08/02/field-clearing-grapple-skidder/

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2010/09/15/frost-seeding/
Ivan Weiss


Joined: Dec 19, 2009
Posts: 157
Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
My experience is the same as Walter's. I ran 16 hogs on a field slightly less than 1 acre in size from fall to spring, which they rooted up wonderfully, and then reseeded with basically a grass-clover mixture. The grass and the clover all came up, but the dominant "crop" was common tansy. Clearly it will take more than one year to make that field what I want it to be. I sure won't put hogs on the same field two years in a row.


Pastured poultry, pork, and beef on Vashon Island, WA.
Raine Bradford


Joined: Sep 24, 2011
Posts: 42
Location: West Fork, Arkansas
    
    1
So what does everybody recommend reseeding with? Assuming that your purpose is to rotate pigs through for pasture grazing. We are just getting started and have two red wattles so far. I have an unused pasture of a couple acres that is just grass, no clover or anything. On another note, I also have 5 acres that is unusable because it was logged a few years ago and never cleaned up. Now it is overrun with blackberries. I know the soil is magnificent down there though...all that wood had just been decomposing and doing it's thing for years. I was thinking about putting the pigs down there with an electric fence...Sepp Holzer says they will clean out blackberries... But not sure if I should section it off, or just fence the perimeter. All advice is appreciated! Thank you.
Walter Jeffries


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 907
    
  18
We seed with a mix of digestible grasses, seed forming grasses (grains), clover, alfalfa, other legumes, kale, rape and other things. Climate and soils will make a difference. Find out what your local dairies are planting and then boost the protein content with legumes, brassicas and such. I also seed garlic, onions, scallions, mint and some other medicinal plants. The alliums would not be a good idea if you were seeding for dairy animals as it comes through in the milk as a taint but in the meat it is delicious as well as fighting parasites.

Then do managed rotational grazing. Grazing pigs, sheep and poultry together or following is a good strategy for field development. Cattle would probably work in well too but I have no experience with them and can't comment. The different animals eat differently.

Leaving the wood and roots in to decompose is good. It will take time but that puts nutrients into the soil. The carbon helps balance the nitrogen from the animals and legumes.

Our pigs devour blackberries, raspberries, thistles, burdock, strawberries and blueberries so if you want to keep those you will need to fence them off. See these articles:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2012/10/01/perfect-pear/

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2011/10/03/rootless-in-vermont/
Raine Bradford


Joined: Sep 24, 2011
Posts: 42
Location: West Fork, Arkansas
    
    1
Thank you Walter! I was just reading some of the vast information on your website. I will definitely be referring to it often. You and I are living in very different climates, as I am in Arkansas, but the principals still apply I'm sure. When you re-seed, do you just go in after the pigs have torn it up sufficiently, and throw down your seed mixture? Or is there more to it than that? Also, are your blackberries the ones with vicious thorns? For some reason, I just can't imagine anything eating them. I don't need to fence them off to save them for us, as there are plenty everywhere. I would like to get red of them in the one area I spoke of. Thanks again!
Walter Jeffries


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 907
    
  18
Raine Bradford wrote:Thank you Walter! I was just reading some of the vast information on your website. I will definitely be referring to it often. You and I are living in very different climates, as I am in Arkansas, but the principals still apply I'm sure. When you re-seed, do you just go in after the pigs have torn it up sufficiently, and throw down your seed mixture? Or is there more to it than that? Also, are your blackberries the ones with vicious thorns? For some reason, I just can't imagine anything eating them. I don't need to fence them off to save them for us, as there are plenty everywhere. I would like to get red of them in the one area I spoke of. Thanks again!


Aye, the thorns are nasty and the quills on the thistles are worse yet it doesn't bother the pigs at all. I guess they have tongues like giraffes.

Certainly adjust the seed species mix for climate. Brassica may not do as well in the heat.

We tend to frost seed, storm seed and mob seed. Anything that will help drive the seed into the soil. See:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2010/09/15/frost-seeding/

Seeding just before you move the pigs out of a mob grazed area works in any climate. First they prepare the soil. Then you seed and the drive the seed in with their feet. Then you move them on before the seed sprouts whence they will damage the seedlings.
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6498
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
133
Here in Washington state, pigs are considered the absolute best way to rid a field of our invasive wild blackberries.
Anything short of pigs is just a temporary measure.

As far as seed mixtures go, I consider it important to use the 'Herbal Ley' system.
By incorporating a diverse mixture of herbs, the animals will 'self-medicate' themselves.
When they have a common ailment, their instincts tell them what plant to eat.

Here is a good read on herbal ley pastures. Bear in mind that the grasses he chose are for his climate and soils. You should select those that do well in your region. (And what he calls 'lucerne' is what they call 'alfalfa' in the rest of the English speaking world.) The herbs prescribed should work almost anywhere. Besides providing the animals a 'medicine chest', you are also providing more variety in diet, which can translate into putting weight on more quickly.

Link to AcresUSA article:
Herbal ley pastures

Raine Bradford


Joined: Sep 24, 2011
Posts: 42
Location: West Fork, Arkansas
    
    1
This is WONDERFUL information! Thank you Walter and John! For the great links and taking the time to answer my questions. I love the idea of seeding some medicinal herbs. I'll be putting up the electric fence/training area today in an area of tough pasture grass where I want part of my vegetable garden. So excited to let these guys go to work for me!

Also, when you (Walter) were talking about reseeding with the mob seeding method, why isn't the manure in there going to be too "hot" for the new seedlings?

And one more: John, when you talked about the pigs self-medicating, I assume that they also understand NOT to eat what is poisonous. We have a lot of poke weed here, and while it is very medicinal, the root is especially poisonous, even to pigs, from what I've read. But it seems like as long as they have plenty of forage to choose from, they would eat smart and stay away from the bad stuff. Am I on track with that thinking?
Walter Jeffries


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 907
    
  18
The link John gave is great. This is what we do although I didn't have a word for it. We mix in a variety of forage species to aid with parasite control, health and flavor of the meat.

As a general rule animals don't tend to eat poisonous things unless pressed to through starvation. This is because poisons taste bad. The plants produce poisons and a bad taste to warn off animals from eating them. The animals evolved taste buds to detect poisons as a bad taste to avoid getting killed by poisoning. It's a cooperative warning system of sorts. "See, I taste bad, that means I can hurt you so leave me alone - Oh, you taste bad, maybe you are poisonous so I won't eat you." If you mob graze everything down then toxic plants become more of an issue since there is no other food and the animals are more willing to eat bad tasting things. This is a generalization of evolution, I'm sure there is somebody out there who tastes good and is poisonous too...

The density of grazing isn't so high that burning is a problem from 'hot' manure. Perhaps if it was a feed lot situation that would be a problem. Even our winter paddocks are not a problem this way. Maybe that is because the majority of our pig's diet is pasture/hay so their manure has a higher level of carbon in it that tempers the 'heat' of the manure.

One other trick in this regard is to feed seed to the pigs. They'll plant it. This does not give nearly as even a spread as we get by hand seeding. Hand broadcase seeding is not hard and it is a nice rhythm of work. We've done up to 120 acres by hand. We have small hand crank seed spreaders but I like just broadcasting directly from my hand. I can go faster than the mechanical broadcasters with a bag of seed over my shoulder and just walking across the fields. Criss cross for the best pattern. That 120 acres included criss crossing much of it, it was only about 70 actual acres but we criss crossed about 50 acres so it got seeded from two directions. This helps go around stumps and other things so you don't have seed shadows.

Cheers,

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6498
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
133
Walter pretty well hit the nail on the head regarding animals not eating poisonous plants.
Instinctively, they know better. But if left too long on the pasture, they have no choice.

Another factor to consider is, say your field has 10% poisonous plants.
If you leave the animals there too long, fewer of the good plants will naturally reseed.
But, the bad plants, which have been ignored, will all have the opportunity to reseed without competition.
Next spring, they may represent 20% of your pasture, and 50% within a few years.

You don't want to put yourself in a position where reseeding is needed every year.
Watching a pasture is much easier than working a pasture.
That's time and money better spent elsewhere.



Fournier Lyra


Joined: Jan 17, 2013
Posts: 4
Location: FRANCE - Ambierle
Hi

I just share this information (it is in french ! but may be it can be find in english).
"Paturage and récolte en élevage porcin" (ecological agriculture projects, by Jean Duval, juin 1993)
It mean :" intensive managed grazing with harvest of pigs"

http://eap.mcgill.ca/agrobio/ab370-06.htm

John Polk, what do you mean by
"Watching a pasture is much easier than working a pasture" ?


I am French, sorry for my english !
Renate Howard
pollinator

Joined: Jan 10, 2013
Posts: 755
Location: zone 6b
    
    9
I just wanted to add in, at different times of the year you'd plant different things. I.E. annual rye in late summer/fall, garlic in fall/winter, cilantro in winter/spring, etc.

You can get bulk seeds for things like cilantro, dill, mustard, etc. at places that sell bulk seasonings for way cheaper than seed catalogs. You can also harvest seedheads of plants as you find them in your pastures to sprinkle around when you see bare spots. If you grow garlic in your garden (and imho everyone should) the scapes at the top can be planted in the pastures if you let any of them go. You can also let lettuce, onions, etc. go to seed and sprinkle them in the pastures.

I threw extra peas in the pasture and see the plants coming up now, also got some indian corn last fall on clearance and removed the kernels and threw them around and see them coming up now, along with plants from squash and pumpkin seeds I've saved from ones we ate.

I've got one paddock I'm mowing when I move them off of it, and am leaving the rest at the moment to see if mowing makes a difference in the make-up of the pasture plants. It's hard to mow where the pigs have made ruts and mounds of soil, so I'm hoping it doesn't make much difference!

Last fall they tore up the pasture and made huge bare spots, but this year they only rooted a very little bit and are mostly just grazing. I think they hadn't had the chance to root and eat dirt before and were trying to make up for maybe mineral deficiencies or something.
Walter Jeffries


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 907
    
  18
Renate Haeckler wrote:Last fall they tore up the pasture and made huge bare spots, but this year they only rooted a very little bit and are mostly just grazing. I think they hadn't had the chance to root and eat dirt before and were trying to make up for maybe mineral deficiencies or something.


Could be. Another factor that causes this behavior is that the first time they go through the pasture they get out grubs, tubers and other underground things. On subsequent passes they focus on the easier top grazing.
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6498
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
133
John Polk, what do you mean by
"Watching a pasture is much easier than working a pasture" ?


I guess that was my 'shorthand' way of saying:

If you carefully watch a pasture's progress throughout the season(s), you can easily step in and broadcast specific seeds as needed for say example, either increasing the percentage of something, or hitting some areas with a good smother crop to restrict overgrowth of less desirable species. If you don't keep up with it, you may eventually need to completely re establish it. If it is just allowed to progress as it sees fit, it could degrade to the point that it no longer suits your purpose.

It is much more labor (and cost) to correct an ignored pasture than it is to 'fine tune' it as it progresses.
(Kind of like "A stitch in time saves 9.")


J.D. Ray


Joined: Apr 01, 2012
Posts: 44
I've been working on a design for a managed intensive grazing (MIG) system for a combination of pigs and chickens. Right now it's all paper (well, electronic paper) design and theory, as we're still living in our urban neighborhood, but we're hoping to move out within a few months, and need to have a plan in place.

So....

I'm designing the system around rotational grazing of one litter of pigs (so far I like Berkshires, which seem to litter around ten or eleven at a go) and a hundred laying hens. The plan is to divide an area of land (not determined yet, but I'm targeting one acre) into four parcels. I would plan the start so the pigs were in the first quarter of the land a month before the chickens were put into the system. I would rotate the pigs to parcel two, putting a chicken tractor into parcel one that the pigs just vacated. Dividing parcel one into four subsections, I'd rotate the chickens around one subsection per week until they'd been in all four, and the pigs had been in section two for a month. Then it's time to move everyone again. Lather, rinse, and repeat. By the time the pigs have hit the fourth quadrant, they've grazed on new pasture every month for four months, and quadrant one has been left alone for two months.

I've spent a lot of time chasing down helpful information, with a lot of it coming from this forum, more pointedly much of it coming from posters in this thread. So it makes sense to me to come here looking for answers. My trouble is that all of the answers tend to center around, "Well, it depends..." Ultimately, I realize that there are so many variables you can't control for (land productivity, weather, rooting tendency of the pigs, etc., etc.), and that I'm just going to have to try things. However, I'd like to run my basic plan by people with experience before I jump in the pool (or paddock, as the case may be).

So, my questions are these:
  • Is one quarter acre sufficient pasture to graze ten pigs for a month?
  • Can chickens go onto pasture immediately after pigs have vacated it, or does it need to sit for a period (regrowth, parasite death) before they occupy it?
  • If the pig-vacated paddock needs to wait a while before the chickens enter, how long should it sit? Is a month sufficient?
  • If I let the pig paddock sit for a month, can the pigs rotate onto a paddock that chickens vacated just a month ago?

  • I'm designing the system to be scalable, so if I have to gap the rotation so there's regrowth space between the pigs and chickens, I can do that either with more paddocks (six or eight rather than four), or the paddocks are larger, so there's less impact on a particular amount of ground. My research indicates (which is different than saying "I've determined") that 100 chickens on 2500 square feet for a week is a reasonable number. If 10 pigs on 10,000 square feet for a month works out, then I can go ahead with implementation. Ultimately, I'm aiming for a design that has twelve quarter-acre paddocks that I can have several groups of chickens and pigs rotating around on a planned schedule, with enough space between the groups that the paddocks can regrow well. In the short run, I'd like to prove out the concept on four paddocks, but your answers may change that plan.

    Thanks, all.

    Cheers.

    J.D.
    Walter Jeffries


    Joined: Nov 21, 2010
    Posts: 907
        
      18
    J.D. Ray wrote:fourth quadrant, they've grazed on new pasture every month for four months, and quadrant one has been left alone for two months.


    I would suggest dividing to more paddocks since depending on the season the forages regrow faster or slower. Four is the very minimum so that they come back no quicker than 30 days.

    J.D. Ray wrote:My trouble is that all of the answers tend to center around, "Well, it depends..."


    Ah, reality impinges... Well, you know, it depends on the local climate, soil, rainfall, season, size of the animals, how good a grazer they are, the mix of species of animals, the mix of species of forages... "It depends" is reality. I can give you lots of measures from our farm such as 3.6 gallons/HWt/day of whey and 0.8 lbs/HWt/day of hay in the winter but those are averages over an entire herd, big to little, so if you're raising a batch of small growers the numbers will come out a little different. The rule is don't be too tied to the rules. Other people's experience gives you an idea of things that have worked or haven't worked for other people but there will likely be a need to adapt to your own needs, management style, etc.

    J.D. Ray wrote:However, I'd like to run my basic plan by people with experience before I jump in the pool (or paddock, as the case may be).


    Throw things out on the forum and get feedback. Some of it will be good and useful. Just keep in mind that you are the one who is taking your risks and must make your choices in the end.

    J.D. Ray wrote:Is one quarter acre sufficient pasture to graze ten pigs for a month?


    Yes. Absolutely. Probably. Provided it is not a clay mud hole. If there are good forages and not toxic plants. Depends on the size of the pigs (growers vs 600 lb breeders)...

    I find that I can raise ten pigs per acre on our pastures during the warm months (May-October) for feeder pigs (30 to 250 lb) using managed rotational grazing. Our pastures are a mixture of palatable grasses, legumes, brassicas, other forages, apples, nuts and we feed whey which adds lysine to their diet. However, I like staying lower than that limit so that I can manage the maturation of seeds so that the plants reseed themselves.
    Ref: http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2007/10/12/how-much-land-per-pig/

    J.D. Ray wrote:Can chickens go onto pasture immediately after pigs have vacated it, or does it need to sit for a period (regrowth, parasite death) before they occupy it?


    We graze our chickens with our pigs. They naturally follow the pigs and sheep around looking for insects, picking apart poops, etc. No need to separate.

    J.D. Ray wrote:If the pig-vacated paddock needs to wait a while before the chickens enter, how long should it sit? Is a month sufficient?


    No need for a wait. Chickens are organic pest control.

    J.D. Ray wrote:If I let the pig paddock sit for a month, can the pigs rotate onto a paddock that chickens vacated just a month ago?


    No need to wait. See above. The pigs, sheep, etc should move off the pasture after one to 18 days or so, not more than that to help break parasite cycles, avoid soil compaction, root death, etc. You want to time the reintroduction into paddocks for the pigs after pigs to be >21 days (parasites) and preferably >=30 days but most of all after the forages have regrown sufficiently.

    Mob grazing is useful for seeding to change the forage mix. Frost and storm seeding work well for us too. See:

    http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2010/09/15/frost-seeding/

    As a general rule I would say smaller paddocks moving faster is better. Don't worry too much. Don't use too sharp a pencil. Try things out. Be flexible and most of all, move forward.

    Have fun and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

    Cheers,

    -Walter
    Craig Dobbelyu


    Joined: Dec 22, 2011
    Posts: 937
    Location: Maine (zone 5)
        
      30
    I bought two piglets from Walter in June and they've done amazingly well. I've done just about all the things Walter recommends, aside of having a good supply of whey. The pigs have thrived and are very happy on the pasture in a paddock shift system. I haven't bought any feed for them and I don't really expect to. That pasture looks better now than it has since I bought my place. I have chickens in with the pigs and they keep the pig poo cleaned up so there is NO SMELL. All in all... an awesome experience I intend to expand on next year. So... Listen to Walter. He knows his stuff... for real.
    I can't wait to know how the taste compares. I have great expectations that so far seem like they will be met or exceeded.


    "You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result”

    -Gandhi
    J.D. Ray


    Joined: Apr 01, 2012
    Posts: 44
    Listen to Walter. He knows his stuff... for real.

    Oh, I'm listening; to Walter, John Polk, you, and anyone else that cites experience and seems helpful.

    I'm interested to know what sort of forage was in your paddock and what state it was in when you put the pigs in there. Also, you say that you don't expect to have to feed them, which is entirely contrary to almost everything else I've read. Lastly, how large is the paddock for your two pigs?

    Thanks.

    JD
    Craig Dobbelyu


    Joined: Dec 22, 2011
    Posts: 937
    Location: Maine (zone 5)
        
      30
    J.D. Ray wrote:
    Listen to Walter. He knows his stuff... for real.

    Oh, I'm listening; to Walter, John Polk, you, and anyone else that cites experience and seems helpful.

    I'm interested to know what sort of forage was in your paddock and what state it was in when you put the pigs in there. Also, you say that you don't expect to have to feed them, which is entirely contrary to almost everything else I've read. Lastly, how large is the paddock for your two pigs?

    Thanks.

    JD


    I started with a field that used to be hay fields about 10 years ago. The last time it was bush hogged was in 2006. The majority of it is now grasses, small trees and shrubs, berries of all sorts, nuts, roots and greens, clover and vetch. Moles and voles don't last too long in a paddock either. Chickens eat anything too small for a pig to pick up. I'm paddock shifting them and the chickens over an area of about 2 acres but there is a total of almost 7 acres that I could use if I needed it. The acreage that I'm not using is going to be the area I intend to expand into next year.
    Paddock size has changed throughout the season. The faster the fields grow, the smaller the paddock are. As the season has gone on the paddocks have been made larger to account for the forage growth and the pig size. Because of my schedule, I'm only able to move fencing and animals -at max- twice a week, so I've tried to do it in such a way that works with the schedule, while keeping them on good forage. When they were small they ate less too so... "it depends". I moved them when they ate about 50% of the total stuff in the paddock (give or take a bit). The intention was to really tear up the ground so that I could seed heavily after the season was over. Turns out that most of what I was going to sow has managed to come up from the "seed bank of the soil". I've been adding clover, lambs quarters, collards and kales as well as sunchokes as the animals move out of a paddock.

    What I meant about not having to feed them was that I don't expect to pay for any thing to feed them. Before I picked up my piglets, Walter and I talked about things to plant for fall. With that info I decided to plant a winter forage crop area for the pigs. I tilled a small side field and planted greens, squash, sunflowers, mangles, beans, pumpkins and peas. As the season went on, I harvested stuff from that area and brought it to the pigs as treats. Now that we've had a few frosty nights, I have a lot of these extra calories stored away in the root cellar for when the pasture starts to diminish. I also figure that I'll be able to use some of the uneaten area in a similar way to hay as long as the snow is not too deep. For my efforts I'm pleased with the results. I look forward to the day when the snow is too deep and last of the winter squash and pumpkins go over the fence. Once the food runs out, the pigs go in the freezer or into salt. Based on my calculations... I need another freezer and a lot more salt.
    I should also mention that I have a number of large oak and beech trees that dropped a good amount of mast this fall too.
    The pigs are doing really well so far as I can tell. I suspect they are smaller than their brothers and sisters, back at Walters place but hey... This is just my first year. The pigs are about 4 ft long and gaining weight at a noticeable rate. Every day I see them they seem so much bigger.
    I hope that clears that up a bit.
     
     
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