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Chestnuts as Pig food staple?

 
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As I learn more and more about grain, the less excited i am to grow it for anything more than chickens, which is unfortunate as a big part of my plans involve small scale pigs.

Today I Heard that chestnuts can produce the same pound per acre as corn! So now i have questions for anyone out there doing chestnuts.

If you are in zones 4/5/6 how well are your chestnuts doing? Nutritionally is there any reason pigs cant staple on chestnuts? How long do chestnuts store before molding?

Any input welcome, as i think this might be key for producing all/most of my pigs food on site.
 
pollinator
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Location: Victoria BC
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In mostly out of interest; I have only planted a handful of chestnuts so far, and harvests are a long ways off.

Storing for pig food should be quite a different variable than for human consumption, but mold is definitely a concern, and when dealing with large quantities sorting through to pick out problems becomes a big deal..

My hope is to focus pretty heavily on syncing up slaughter with seasonal abundance, and minimize overwintering and thus storage requirements..

I also figure that acorns and hazels will be much better storage nut crops, and am planting some of each.


Chestnuts for cattle is another interesting option...
 
C. West
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i think i would try to hang large bags of them off the ground in a dry place, i wonder if you could pulverize them into a fermented mash perhaps? i think my wants are niche enough that experimentation might be the only way to find out. finishing pigs on nuts is one thing, but im looking to staple them and finish on fruit, supplimented on fruit and grain mash from breweries/cideries if possible/free.
 
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I'm not growing any myself at this point, but hope to someday.

I've read that 'Virginia Hams' became famous back when they fattened the pigs on mast, mainly chestnuts.  I read in an old book somewhere that the pigs would sometimes get so fat on mast that their foreheads would wrinkle over their eyes until they couldn't see.  

I've also read that in some parts of France many of the commoners lived on chestnuts instead of grain.  The rich and the righteous didn't like it because it was harder to get your share of the harvest (tax) and that since it didn't take as much work (their trees were mature), they had more free time and got into more trouble.  When the opportunity arose the powerful got rid of most of the trees.

Please note:  just because I read it doesn't make it so.  
 
C. West
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interesting info mick, sounds promising. i also dont mind paying for feed for a few years (3-7) if it means zero work free feed from chestnuts in the future
 
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Location: West Midlands UK (zone 8b) Rainfall 26"
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My perception is that like many trees, chestnuts have good years (mast years) and bad years, and some years you will hardly get any.  This might be because I live in a part of the world where chestnuts aren't very common, and maybe if you had acres of them with good genetic diversity (and beech and oak in the mix as well) then at least some would have a good crop in most years.  Chestnuts are a traditional fattening feed for pigs in parts of Europe, but that's different from trying to store enough to feed your pigs exclusively on them, and capitalises on the pigs' natural abilities to forage and process the nuts.  
 
pollinator
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I'd be inclined to grow a variety of "feed trees" along with the chestnuts. Things like white acorns, English walnuts, beech nuts, apples, honey locust, etc. That way if one type has a bad year, the others can make up for it.
 
C. West
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i will definitely be growing sweet crab-apple and white oak in there pasture as self feed, not to mention the hundred other fruit and nut trees i will be growing for me that the will be getting food from. i just wanted a good staple and i think chestnuts are it
 
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