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Our experience with raising pigs for the first time

                  


Joined: Aug 16, 2010
Posts: 19
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Hiya all,

We raised 3 Berkshire hogs this year for the first time.  They were raised free range on organic food, fenced in with 2 strands of 16 gauge wire and a 10 joule fence charger.  We used Story's Guide To Raising Pigs as our main source of reference, and bounced questions off the breeder from time to time.  All in all, I would say they were easier to raise than chickens, and the meat is unlike anything I have ever tasted.

We fed them commercial organic hog ration, which was a bloody expensive $25 +tx for 25kg.  They were going through 3 bags every 10 days for the most part.  Added to the feed was 2% diatomatious earth for parasite control.  One pig got sick at about 3 months old, and we were able to nurse him back to health.  Not sure what caused him to get sick, but he went off his food and water, and couldn't stand up for a week.  It cost us $110 in Gatoraid, maple syrup, and skim milk powder, fed through a bottle every couple hours for a week, but we saved him.  At the time we were really happy about this, but soon found out he just wasn't the same.  He went from running around with the others all day, to laying in the range house non stop.  We had to force him out for feedings, and he wasn't interested in rooting much at all.  He would eat some apples and other veges, but not at the rate the others were doing.

When we slaughtered him and measured his weight (length * 2girth / 400) he only weighed in at 145# at 27 weeks old.  The second one came in at 228# at 28 weeks old.  The third will be slaughtered this weekend, but I expect he will be between 225# and 230# as well.  In retrospect, we should have got the sick one healthy and slaughtered him soon after.  This is what we will do if it happens in the future.

We are doing the slaughtering and butchering ourselves.  We skin and debone them outside, then wash, cut and vacuum bag the meat in the kitchen.  This worked out great, even though it was our first time doing it.  I have lot of video footage, and once we finish the third pig, I'll get it all edited for a Youtube video here - http://www.youtube.com/user/Permaculturist

Next year we are going to add more pigs, and maybe get a breeding pair.  We're going to try tamworths in addition to the berkhires too.  We're going to try to grow all our own food for them, but we may end up buying in some grains or something until we get more experience with these animals.  Ultimately, I would like to mill my own feed from my own cereal grains, but feed them a wide variety of healthy organic veges and local fruits as their main diet.

We also fed these pigs beaver and goose carcasses from hunting, and they went wild for them.  They even ate all the feathers.  I'm thinking about shooting a couple bears in the spring, saving the best cuts for mixing into pork & bear sausages, saving the hides for tanning, freezing and feeding out the rest to the pigs in equal portions until it's gone.  My goal is to not pay almost $30 a bag for commercial feed ever again, but honestly, it will take some work this winter to figure out how to do that.

If anyone else is raising organic free range heritage pigs, I'm interested in hearing what you feed them.  We're still really new to this, and from what I have seen online, there are not many people raising their own hogs any more.  I find this really strange, since they are easier to deal with than dogs, and the taste... oh my god!

Oh yeah, one more thing, I am also wet rendering the fat into lard on our cook fire (at least I would be if it stopped raining).  Really amazing stuff that is, from what I have seen so far.  I'm really surprised to read online how healthy lard is compared to all the hydrogenated garbage we are lead to believe is healthy all our lives.  The first batch we made, from the first pig we slaughtered (named "Bacon" was dry rendered cut into blocks, and frozen.  The second pig (named "Sausage" is wet rendered, but I got interrupted by weather.  This lard will be heated to 250F and poured into 250ml mason jars for storage in a cool dark place.  Depending on which lard we like better, we will do the same process to the third pig (named "Ham" this weekend.

Anyway, that's what we have going on right now.  Thanks for reading, and I hope it wasn't to boring. 

d

(pigs are 11 weeks old in the attached pic, assuming it uploaded)



[Thumbnail for 11_weeks_old.jpg]

                    


Joined: Aug 24, 2009
Posts: 106
we got two piglets in late winter to hopefully eradicate a problem with grubs that we had. for this reason we put two strands of hot wire around the garden, covered a cattle panel hoop with a tarp and lined it with straw bales for shelter.  Later moved them to a second garden down the  hill, then into an area that we had just cleared with access to a pond.  One pig we gave away, after they busted out and killed a new born lamb.  The second pig just goes with the other animals and has turned out to be affectionate and trusting.  I feel like a traitor, she comes running up to me and noff noffs at me. We often see her with the sheep out in the pasture, she also goes in the woods and eats acorns.  I am not going to get another pig,  they are way too personable.  The goats are mean to her,  but she is a sweety pie, no less.
Emil Spoerri
pollinator

Joined: Oct 19, 2009
Posts: 415
    
    8
Ugh, feeding bear meat to pigs? Ugh. Well I guess the offal...

If you are that daring, why not feed road kill deer?

Try planting sunchokes. That's a great feed pigs can self harvest.

I have heard of pigs who are ranged year round, never hand fed. They plant corn and the pigs self harvest for 2 months out of the year and then after the nut trees are finished dropping, slaughtered.
                  


Joined: Aug 16, 2010
Posts: 19
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Emile Spore wrote:
Ugh, feeding bear meat to pigs? Ugh. Well I guess the offal...

If you are that daring, why not feed road kill deer?


Why?  What's wrong with bear meat?  Seems like lots of good protein, fat, calcium, etc to me.  Good idea on road kill though.  I think I'll get ahold of the MNR and see what they do with road kills.

Try planting sunchokes. That's a great feed pigs can self harvest.


I planted sunchokes this spring, but I think I was too late.  I will try again earlier next year for sure.

I have heard of pigs who are ranged year round, never hand fed. They plant corn and the pigs self harvest for 2 months out of the year and then after the nut trees are finished dropping, slaughtered.


Ultimately, this is my goal.  I want pigs that can forage their own food with the help of some frost seeded crops, etc.  Timing the slaughtering to happen after the apple season is part of my plan also, as we have loads of apple trees around our property.
Irene Kightley
pollinator

Joined: Apr 13, 2009
Posts: 335
Location: South West France
    
  15
Hi NB Permie,

Well done on saving the piglet !

We've had a variety of breeds, Gascons (a local old breed), GOS and at the moment we've a Berkshire and a Gascon cross.



We manage to find food all year round without having to buy in food but we grow our pigs slowly. In the summer it's easy because we just give them what we have in the garden plus some corn.

At the moment (Autumn here) they feed on chestnuts and acorns in the woods but we also give them corn cobs, brambles, apples, pumpkins and anything in the garden that didn't quite make the grade. Later on towards yuletime we'll also feed artichokes, potatoes and beetroot but we have to cook that. My partner is a hunter/trapper so we too feed wild meat from time to time and the pigs love it and do well on it. 


La Ferme de Sourrou : Nos projets avec PHOTOS
                  


Joined: Aug 16, 2010
Posts: 19
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Irene Kightley wrote:
We manage to find food all year round without having to buy in food but we grow our pigs slowly. In the summer it's easy because we just give them what we have in the garden plus some corn.


Good to know, thanks.  We have a harsh winter here on the east coast of Canada, so we'd be hard pressed to find food for half the year without buying it in.  At what age do you slaughter your pigs?  What kind of weight are you seeing?

At the moment (Autumn here) they feed on chestnuts and acorns in the woods but we also give them corn cobs, brambles, apples, pumpkins and anything in the garden that didn't quite make the grade. Later on towards yuletime we'll also feed artichokes, potatoes and beetroot but we have to cook that. My partner is a hunter/trapper so we too feed wild meat from time to time and the pigs love it and do well on it.   


Ya, mine love it too.  I figure they would be eating animal protein in the wild, and I'm trying to basically recreate a structured wild environment for them, where I don't have to do all the work of feeding them, or bear the cost of commercial feed.
Irene Kightley
pollinator

Joined: Apr 13, 2009
Posts: 335
Location: South West France
    
  15
The youngest we've killed is at about 10 months and live weight was 140 kilos (300lbs) and we've also (unfortunately  ) killed a three year old sow who weighed about 350 kilos.

I prefer them not too fat and like you, we do our best to give them loads of room, lots to do outside and let them feed themselves as much as possible.

 
Emil Spoerri
pollinator

Joined: Oct 19, 2009
Posts: 415
    
    8
Though I love bear meat, I don't know if I could even bring myself to kill a bear to feed myself. The native americans considered the fat and meat to be sacred. I think that it is folly to waste any usable morsel on a pig.
Irene Kightley
pollinator

Joined: Apr 13, 2009
Posts: 335
Location: South West France
    
  15
I think it's worse than folly, it's disrespectful, wasteful and sad.

Everything can be used, the blood can make a wonderful black pudding, the skin can flavour so many dishes. In the depths of winter there's nothing nicer that making a quick soup with pigskin and beans - it's a very special dish in France !

Kay Bee


Joined: Oct 10, 2009
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
NB Permie wrote:
Hiya all,

We raised 3 Berkshire hogs this year for the first time.  They were raised free range on organic food, fenced in with 2 strands of 16 gauge wire and a 10 joule fence charger.  We used Story's Guide To Raising Pigs as our main source of reference, and bounced questions off the breeder from time to time.  All in all, I would say they were easier to raise than chickens, and the meat is unlike anything I have ever tasted.

Anyway, that's what we have going on right now.  Thanks for reading, and I hope it wasn't to boring. 

Not boring at all!  thank you for sharing some of the things you learned.  It's very helpful to hear how things like this work out when people try it for the first time.

I can definitely understand wanting to reduce that feed bill - sounds like some expensive pork!

Thanks again


"Limitation is the mother of good management", Michael Evanari

Location: Southwestern Oregon (Jackson County), Zone 7
                  


Joined: Aug 16, 2010
Posts: 19
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Emile Spore wrote:
Though I love bear meat, I don't know if I could even bring myself to kill a bear to feed myself. The native americans considered the fat and meat to be sacred. I think that it is folly to waste any usable morsel on a pig.


And...

Irene Kightley wrote:
I think it's worse than folly, it's disrespectful, wasteful and sad.

Everything can be used, the blood can make a wonderful black pudding, the skin can flavour so many dishes. In the depths of winter there's nothing nicer that making a quick soup with pigskin and beans - it's a very special dish in France !


How is feeding what I won't eat to something I will eat wasteful?  I live in an area where bears are everywhere.  I can't walk 100yds in any direction without finding bear scat.  Should I allow the bear population to grow to a point where they eat my pigs, my dog, and do damage to my property just because people like you think that is more acceptable? 

Americans come to Canada to hunt black bear so they can get a picture of them kneeling by a dead bear, which is then landfilled because all they want is that picture.  I respectfully suggest you save your self righteous indignation for them.

d
                  


Joined: Aug 16, 2010
Posts: 19
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
SouthEastFarmer wrote:
Not boring at all!  thank you for sharing some of the things you learned.  It's very helpful to hear how things like this work out when people try it for the first time.

I can definitely understand wanting to reduce that feed bill - sounds like some expensive pork!

Thanks again


Well, it works out to about $3.91 a pound for boneless, skinless, fat trimmed organic free range meat, so we still came out way ahead.  There's definitely lots of room for improvement, though.  Gotta start somewhere.

d
Emil Spoerri
pollinator

Joined: Oct 19, 2009
Posts: 415
    
    8
NB Permie wrote:
And...

How is feeding what I won't eat to something I will eat wasteful?  I live in an area where bears are everywhere.  I can't walk 100yds in any direction without finding bear scat.  Should I allow the bear population to grow to a point where they eat my pigs, my dog, and do damage to my property just because people like you think that is more acceptable? 

Americans come to Canada to hunt black bear so they can get a picture of them kneeling by a dead bear, which is then landfilled because all they want is that picture.  I respectfully suggest you save your self righteous indignation for them.

d


I don't think it's wrong to eat them, but feeding bear to pigs is about the most far fetched food source for pigs I have ever heard of. Is there no one to take these excess black bears off of hunters hands? I would be a happy candidate if I lived there, cause like I said, I love bear meat but I don't think I could bring myself to shoot one.
                  


Joined: Aug 16, 2010
Posts: 19
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Emile Spore wrote:
I don't think it's wrong to eat them, but feeding bear to pigs is about the most far fetched food source for pigs I have ever heard of. Is there no one to take these excess black bears off of hunters hands? I would be a happy candidate if I lived there, cause like I said, I love bear meat but I don't think I could bring myself to shoot one.


In the wild, pigs are omnivores.  Obviously, they would not be capable of taking down a bear, but if they came across one that was already dead, you better believe they would be all over it.  Far fetched?  In comparison to what?  Have a look at what commercially farmed livestock is being fed these days, and then tell me how far fetched my idea is.  Ever see cows eating ground up dead chickens, chicken feces, corn, or anything else that didn't look like grass in the wild?

As for not being able to shoot one, I believe it is my responsibility as a meat eater to take part in the harvesting of the meat I eat, instead of pretending it magically appears on store shelves wrapped in plastic.  I take no pleasure in killing an animal for food, but when I do, I make sure it is done in the quickest, most efficient manner available to me.  Regardless, people like me are looked down on by the anti-hunting crowd as if we are cruel to animals.  Meanwhile, they're chomping on burgers made from animals that lived a life of pure terror.

d
Emil Spoerri
pollinator

Joined: Oct 19, 2009
Posts: 415
    
    8
NB Permie wrote:
In the wild, pigs are omnivores.  Obviously, they would not be capable of taking down a bear, but if they came across one that was already dead, you better believe they would be all over it.  Far fetched?  In comparison to what?  Have a look at what commercially farmed livestock is being fed these days, and then tell me how far fetched my idea is.  Ever see cows eating ground up dead chickens, chicken feces, corn, or anything else that didn't look like grass in the wild?

As for not being able to shoot one, I believe it is my responsibility as a meat eater to take part in the harvesting of the meat I eat, instead of pretending it magically appears on store shelves wrapped in plastic.  I take no pleasure in killing an animal for food, but when I do, I make sure it is done in the quickest, most efficient manner available to me.  Regardless, people like me are looked down on by the anti-hunting crowd as if we are cruel to animals.  Meanwhile, they're chomping on burgers made from animals that lived a life of pure terror.

d


You aren't going to get any sympathy points from anyone here by comparing yourself to commodity agriculture. I kill my animals that I eat too. But I am afraid of guns and feel it's a bit unfair to the bear. I don't pursue eating bear meat, though if I know someone who has plenty to go around why shouldn't I indulge?

You know, pigs will eat just about anything that tastes good, human shit even.
But here is the thing, bear meat is about on par with pork. So you are trading a lot of meat for a little bit. You weren't specific on what parts you use, I myself wouldn't be particularly keen on eating stomach, intestines or rectum, but heart, kidneys, lungs, liver, gonads and brain are the best parts! The fat is the second best part. If some of the cuts are too tough, you can just soak them in apple cider vinegar, wine or kim-chi. All the bones and paws will make a delicious broth or gelatin.

I don't want to dwell on the subject any longer, but I just don't get making less out of more.

It's just that, if you listed out all the things that I would ever think of feeding to pigs, meat in general, and much more so bear meat, would not even make it on the list. Offal is a different story.

If you killed enough bears for it to make much of a difference in your pigs dietary plan, then well that just ain't too sustainable.
                  


Joined: Aug 16, 2010
Posts: 19
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Emile Spore wrote:

I don't want to dwell on the subject any longer, but I just don't get making less out of more.



That's great, now that you've derailed this thread with a 'save the bears' campaign.  ALL feed is making less out of more.  There are no 100% feed conversions.  I see no problem feeding my pigs the good protein they will get from bear meat, and I intend to do so whenever I can along with the meat of any other nuisance animals.  The bear population in this area is bordering on dangerous, so I have absolutely no problem shooting them for pig food, dog food, etc.  The only way we enjoy eating bear is in sausages, so after we have enough meat for our needs, the rest has to go somewhere.  Whether I am eating the bear myself, or feeding it to my animals, it is still getting used 100%.  They will be shot regardless of their usability because I don't intend on becoming their dinner instead.

d
                        


Joined: Jul 07, 2010
Posts: 508
Pigs really are omnivores and you have to be careful sometimes mixing new pigs with old ones..I was at an auction one time where a new pig was put in with pigs which had lived together and been sold as a batch..went to see what was going on when the most godawful screaming was echoing through the building and nobody was paying any attention whatsoever..the "family" of pigs was busy trying to eat the newcomer..blood everywhere. 

That said, has anyone got any Red Wattles? Raised some of those years ago and they were the best tempered pigs ever; we had one yorkshire sow (she was a scary pig but when crossed with the Red Wattle boar she had 23 piglets in one batch and somehow raised 20 of them). Her piglets got under the fence and in with the RW gilts and when I found them two gilts were on their sides trying to nurse the  babies.  The RW meat tends to be fatty compared to "modern" pigs but the flavour and tenderness --ahh, unbelievably good. The pigs all ran with chickens and sheep and horses and never bothered any of them (or maybe they just couldn't CATCH them ) although our  800 or so lb. RW boar outran the horses to the barn one day when a hot air balloon flew overhead and landed in the field next door.

We fed mostly ground wheat and/or barley from the farm next door (in a mash) and gave them chunks of hard coal free choice  in a separate feeder..I was amazed to see the pigs happilly crunching these down like ice cubes from time to time. Other than that, not sure if we worried a lot about minerals and such..the babies were given iron shots if I remember. I dont know what they foraged for themselves; they didnt do a whole lot of rooting and seemed to spend most of their time ambling about or snoozing in the mud next to the pond. Wheat will give you a firmer meat, barley a softer meat. We never had any health issues except for the three piglets out of the batch of 23  which were just simply more than the poor sow's body could manage at once. The litters from the purebred  RW were much smaller..I think we averaged 11  with them, with at least 12 being the goal...one unfortunately tended to small litters and brought the average down, so she moved into the freezer. After eating  that pork I could never be happy about eating commercial  pork again.

Old fashioned farmers used all sorts of methods to bring the cost of pigfeed down; it depends a little how strict you want to be with the organic side of it. Spoiled bread from bakeries was a favorite; and any waste material from kitchens. They didnt need to worry about separating out the vegetable from the animal; pigs ate it all with relish. The only thing with that, though, is that kitchen waste MUST be cooked/sterilized ..not talking about vegetable trimmings here but leftover food and such. Otherwise trichinosis is a real concern. I have read that the the decline in human tapeworm infestation is directly correlated with the decline of the practice of feeding kitchen garbage to pigs.

I once raised a pig on grass and cow's milk. The cow was supposed to be a jersey but she overwhelmed us with milk..I made butter and cheese and ice cream and custards and gave away  milk.. she wore me out. That cow took over my life until I gave up and got the pig.As a side note..we didnt dry her up, but milked her for well into two years before we finally sold her because we were moving. I had had her a.i.d  but wasn't at all sure it had taken. I don't know how long she would have gone on producing milk without a new calf but she sure wasn't showing any signs of slowing down.
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
Not sure anyone has yet mentioned conventional root crops as pig feed. I've read rutabaga (swede) and beet (mangelwurtzel) can be good for them.

If you don't mind my asking, why Gatoraide? The electrolyte balance in dehydrated milk is very nearly perfect, and has a complete array of minerals, compared to the two in Gatoraide. Some table salt and potash and bagged sugar, with the right recipe, will get you just as far as those mid-century sports physiologists got, if you really want to go that route.


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
                  


Joined: Aug 16, 2010
Posts: 19
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
If you don't mind my asking, why Gatoraide? The electrolyte balance in dehydrated milk is very nearly perfect, and has a complete array of minerals, compared to the two in Gatoraide. Some table salt and potash and bagged sugar, with the right recipe, will get you just as far as those mid-century sports physiologists got, if you really want to go that route.


We were winging it, really.  We had no idea what to do, since this was our first time raising pigs.  We tried Gatoraide for the electrolytes, and since it was sweet, he would try eating it.  He was at a point where he had no interest in eating whatsoever, so we were trying everything.  The powdered skim milk mix was a flop until we added the maple syrup, and then he hit it real hard.  It was touch and go for about 3 days, where he just laid on his side in the same spot, and didn't move.  We fed him with a water bottle every 2 hrs or so, and somehow he bounced back.
                                  


Joined: Nov 01, 2010
Posts: 1
Hello All..

I see Absolutely no ethical reason Not to feed any scraps of Anything you aren't planning to use to other animals be it your own or wild...

When I'm done butchering an animal the left overs go in the woods to feed the Coons, Coyotes,Crows or Vultures .. Feeding the portions you aren't using to your hogs isn't wasteful, it's smart.

I'm sure NB isn't shooting bears to turn into feed,, so I'm not sure why anyone should be offended, unless you are simply anti hunting...

Culling is the best Natural way to change the bloodline in a species(And Yes,, Culling is Natural)..

This keeps the bloodline Strong Healthy and Evolved..Anyone against that Doesn't understand how the food chain works and is partially responsible for the Degradation of that species..

The Squashed on the road and Distemper infested Raccoon population in S. Ont is proof positive of interference in harvesting these animals..

P&L

TG
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
NB Permie wrote:We were winging it, really...It was touch and go for about 3 days, where he just laid on his side in the same spot, and didn't move.  We fed him with a water bottle every 2 hrs or so, and somehow he bounced back.


So glad he made it through that time! And I didn't mean to sound as critical as I did.

I just read that turnips, peas, and buckwheat can be a nearly complete diet for pigs.

                  


Joined: Aug 16, 2010
Posts: 19
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Joel Hollingsworth wrote:

I just read that turnips, peas, and buckwheat can be a nearly complete diet for pigs.



Hi Joel,

Would you happen to have a source for that article?  I am interested in finding a complete diet that the can forage for on their own as they want it.  My goal is to have animals as close to wild as possible, so there is little to no work or expense involved.

d
                                          


Joined: Oct 15, 2010
Posts: 95
Location: Ferndale, MI- Zone 5b
i have no experience with pigs, so excuse me if i sound ignorant.  maybe you should make sure you have adequate fencing in place before you get those pigs as close to wild as you say you want them to be.  redundancy may be a good idea.

my cousin got chased into a tree by a ferral pig and he says it was the most horrifying 2 hours of his life.  between bears and ferral pigs, it's a toss up as to which one is more dangerous.
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
from the 1906 edition of Dudley Leavitt’s Farmer's Almanac:
Profitable Feed For Swine

An Aroostook county, Maine, farmer, who has great success with hogs, writes a farm paper as to his system of feeding. He says: "I raise peas, buckwheat and turnips for my hogs. I boil the turnips and peas together and mix the buckwheat with them. A few raw pumpkins are cut and fed each day in addition to the grain ration. I never had hogs do better than on this class of feed."


The permie way might be to let the animals harvest and eat whole plants, rather than processing the feed. Buckwheat, especially, seems like it would have a lot of nutrition still in the stem and leaves, as the first seeds are beginning to drop.

I've read that turnips, pumpkins, and winter squash store well in a clamp over the winter. I think hogs would be happy to open up the clamp on your behalf, if there's some elegant way of controlling their access to it.
Wyatt Smith


Joined: Feb 19, 2010
Posts: 111
Location: Midwest zone 6

Acorns - Best food we found, the pigs harvest themselves and seem to never get enough

Corn - We soaked corn on the cob, the pigs would consume about 2/3 of their diet in corn but they wasted a lot

Vegetable Garden seconds (eggplant, sweet pepper, tomato, squash, etc) - the pigs would eat all of these in moderate portions, but if they got too much they would refuse to eat any more of it.  They would only eat squash if we chopped it up and soaked it.

Wheat - they loved wheat porridge with whey or meat drippings and so forth.  Wheat was more expensive than corn, and they often just wasted the dry stuff.

Animal Carcass - they loved these.  Importantly scavenging and hunting are two completely unrelated activities in the mind of a pig.  We fed our pigs with dead chickens.  On occasion they were mixed with live chickens but the pigs did not display predatory behavior.

Pasture Forage - pigs would eat all sorts of grass and weeds, but in our paddocks they would consume everything they liked within a day or two.


Single wire electric works.  However we have not solved the problem of feeding slop over the fence, and having a movable feed trough that the pigs push into the fence.  We had to walk into the pig paddock to deliver slop, I do not recommend this.
                  


Joined: Aug 16, 2010
Posts: 19
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
from the 1906 edition of Dudley Leavitt’s Farmer's Almanac:
The permie way might be to let the animals harvest and eat whole plants, rather than processing the feed. Buckwheat, especially, seems like it would have a lot of nutrition still in the stem and leaves, as the first seeds are beginning to drop.

I've read that turnips, pumpkins, and winter squash store well in a clamp over the winter. I think hogs would be happy to open up the clamp on your behalf, if there's some elegant way of controlling their access to it.


Hi Joel,

Sorry it took so long to reply.  Been busy splitting my time between hunting and rendering lard.  Thanks for digging up that quote.  I'm hoping to find a food source I don't need to boil first, but more research will be needed this winter.  Great idea on storing in clamps.  I'll have to put some thought into how I can incorporate the clamps into my strip grazing scheme.

d
                  


Joined: Aug 16, 2010
Posts: 19
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Mangudai wrote:
Acorns - Best food we found, the pigs harvest themselves and seem to never get enough

Corn - We soaked corn on the cob, the pigs would consume about 2/3 of their diet in corn but they wasted a lot

Vegetable Garden seconds (eggplant, sweet pepper, tomato, squash, etc) - the pigs would eat all of these in moderate portions, but if they got too much they would refuse to eat any more of it.  They would only eat squash if we chopped it up and soaked it.

Wheat - they loved wheat porridge with whey or meat drippings and so forth.  Wheat was more expensive than corn, and they often just wasted the dry stuff.

Animal Carcass - they loved these.  Importantly scavenging and hunting are two completely unrelated activities in the mind of a pig.  We fed our pigs with dead chickens.  On occasion they were mixed with live chickens but the pigs did not display predatory behavior.

Pasture Forage - pigs would eat all sorts of grass and weeds, but in our paddocks they would consume everything they liked within a day or two.


Single wire electric works.  However we have not solved the problem of feeding slop over the fence, and having a movable feed trough that the pigs push into the fence.  We had to walk into the pig paddock to deliver slop, I do not recommend this.


Hi Mangudai,

Great info there, thanks.  Acorns I have no access to without buying them.  Corn is all GMO around here, so I can't buy it in.  I'm going to find some pure varieties to grow myself next year, but this would only be on a small scale, as I don't have enough land cleared for the amount of corn these pigs would eat.  The pigs we just raised got all the leftovers and trim from the vege garden.  They took a while to figure out how to get into the spaghetti squash, but once they figured it out they would go for the squash before the apples.  Animal carcasses are a certainty for any pigs I raise.  They have loads of pasture to forage on as well, as I like giving them plenty of room to run around.

We kept them behind 2 wires on a 10.6 joule fencer.  They would test it daily (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ov9whVBptg4), but I never had a problem with them breaking out.  I'm not a fan of being in the paddock unless I have to be.  I went through a couple pairs of boots this year from one little bastard that thought I was a chew toy.  Really had to watch your hands around him too.

d
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
NB Permie wrote:[corn growing] would only be on a small scale, as I don't have enough land cleared for the amount of corn these pigs would eat.


How well do you suppose wheat would do, sown in a section of pasture the pigs have just been removed from? I've read that it's competitive enough to produce fairly well even with some weed pressure, and I suppose you could time it such that the pigs could self-harvest during the "dough" stage of kernel development if they don't enjoy the dry stuff.
                  


Joined: Aug 16, 2010
Posts: 19
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
How well do you suppose wheat would do, sown in a section of pasture the pigs have just been removed from? I've read that it's competitive enough to produce fairly well even with some weed pressure, and I suppose you could time it such that the pigs could self-harvest during the "dough" stage of kernel development if they don't enjoy the dry stuff.


I'm not sure how wheat would do.  To tell ya the truth, I don't know anything about it.  I'm new to all of this, really.  I was a citiot (idiot living in the city) until a year ago when we chucked it all and moved 2000km away for 84 acres of land we knew virtually nothing about.  We're learning as we go, and reading as much as we can on rain days, and all winter long.  In the meantime, I'm trying to pick up as much info as I can from books and sites like this, and hopefully give something back, by showing others that you don't have to be raised on a farm to live this life.  Sure, the learning curve is longer, but that's half the fun!  Also, by going into this as a clean slate, I don't have old, conventional farming ideas cluttering up my brain.

This winter I'll be researching the plants that I want to frost seed in, start in a greenhouse (going up this Sunday), etc.  Now that we fumbled our way through the first year, we have a better understanding of this property.  We made a choice to not make any major changes or decisions until we had experienced the land in all 4 seasons (although, out here there are really only 2 seasons - winter and bugs).  Now we are starting to plan the layout of the property, and I have been brush cutting so much I have trouble closing my hands.  We are still under some pretty serious budget constraints, and will be until we can sell our house where we used to live in southern Ontario, but after a year here, I know we can make this work.

Basically, we are sitting on 84 acres in rural New Brunswick.  We have a river that runs half the length of the east property line.  The property gradually slopes toward the river, becoming steeper as it gets closer.  There are trout and beavers in the river, and enough flow for a micro-hydroelectric generator in the future.  The water table on this property is high, and in most places I can hit water at 2 or 3 shovels deep.  This area is strong in cranberry growing, with Ocean Spray working on a huge $40m plant near here.  Blueberries and peat moss are two other big crops around here.

This property, and the whole surrounding area of a couple thousand acres, used to be the Gray family farm.  They broke up the land and passed it down to the sons who planted it with trees, and used it as recreational properties.  We bought 40 acres off the estate of one of the sons, and the neighboring 44 acres off his brother.  In talks with him I have gained a lot of the history of this area.  15 years ago both properties were harvested for lumber.  They left lots of trees behind, but they also left a lot of damage where they did cut.  I have LOADS of wood debris rotting in the woods, and deep skidder ruts filled with water.  I'm filling the ruts with the wood as I cut the trails through.

In zone 1 we have 2 small houses, sheds, etc. and no topsoil at all.  we are on the high ground of the property here, and the water table is about 4 ft on average below us.  The soil is gravel and sand.  We are concentrating on hugelkultur and livestock to rebuild the soil, and buying in more manure and compost as well.  We will be converting to a compost toilet setup so we can capture all that good material too.

Basically, we're winging it and learning as we go.  I find that everything I read gives a different opinion on the right way to get a job done, so I try and use it all as reference only, and cut my own path.  So far this is working good for us.  We had a lot of successes this year, and we'll build on that next year.

Sorry, didn't mean to get so long winded. 

d
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
If the ground isn't frozen yet, it might be worthwhile to scatter a few berries of winter wheat, sparsely, in various parts of the pasture. Especially look for places where they won't be disturbed until late spring.
Walter Jeffries


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 907
    
  18
We raise our pigs on pasture/hay plus dairy for almost all of their diet. Add to that pumpkins, apples, beets, turnips and a little bit of boiled barley from a local brew pub and occasional treats of expired bread (great for training). We have about 300 pigs from the breeding herds through piglets to finishers and make weekly deliveries of fresh pork, bacon, ham, sausage and hot dogs to local "white table cloth" restaurants and stores. The combination of pasture/hay and dairy gives the meat a delicious slightly sweet flavor. This is a pig diet that was traditionally used for mortgage lifter pigs who use the excess whey and milk on dairy farms.

Cheers

-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
 
 
subject: Our experience with raising pigs for the first time
 
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