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Starting a Tropical Piggery

 
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Slope stabilizing hedgerows. 

 Nitrogen producing bushes will be grown along the lower ridges, of each paddock, amongst the rocks. They will stabilize the material and provide rich leaf drop and fodder. With nitrogen producing trees, there's usually going to be some other nutrient that becomes the limiting factor for growth. So we will make sure to add this to the crop areas and to the hedgerows. The most likely candidate for the hedgerows is ipil ipil, a bushy form of lucena, which is commonly used as firewood and charcoal. Mother of cacao, is another fast-growing legume tree.

 Goats and cattle graze on lucena. It is probably the most commonly used pioneer species in the Philippines, because of its value as fuel and fodder.

We will also try tagasaste or tree lucerne and pigeon peas on hedgerows. These areas won't be cultivated, but will still play an integral part in stabilizing soil while providing nitrogen, firewood and other products.

 There will probably be other species that thrive on neglect, that could be placed in the hedgerows. I'd like to plant larger fodder trees at regular intervals. These could be harvested daily, to feed the carabao and at the end of the work day, the carabao could haul a load back to the barn for the other animals.
.....
Once land is worked up, it needs to be quickly repaired and planted. So we might want one or two laborers, working close by the carabao. It would be their job to clear rocks and any other debris that might make work difficult. They could dig out pig wallows and harvest forage trees. After each day's clearing, that area could be planted, and would need to be clearly marked.

 Hedgerows are probably where the snakes will live, and hopefully retreat to, whenever we are trying to get some work done.

Everything can be planted either with seed or small plants from a propagation area, so that we don't have bare soil for long. Mulch whenever material is available. Each day's work would need to be marked and labelled, so that I can tell how much is getting done. We would also need to have a ledger, that states how many feet of a given terrace is handled on a given day.

 I will work with the crew, for several weeks, until they understand what I'm trying to do. Many will be accustomed to destroying everything in their path, in order to just get something planted. After I've determined how much ground can be cleared in a day, I will place coloured stakes, numbered from 1 to 31 for each day of the month. I will take pictures of these markers with land features in the background so that workers can't move them. It's always difficult to get work done, when the boss can't be there. But I have 25 years of slave driving behind me.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Goats ...
When we first tackle a property, I will want to give the whole place a once over, to improve access and identify areas where something useful might already be growing.

That is likely to be trees or bushes that produce nitrogen. Anywhere that looks like the land is doing something useful on its own, will be given some of the minerals that are almost always in short supply. This will allow biomass to increase, as that area waits to be transformed. Future roadways and hedgerow lines will be identified.

Depending on how good or bad forage possibilities are, it might make sense to graze this area, first with goats, and then with cattle and pigs, only if they exhaust other food supplies.

I'd like to use a shepherd, to keep goats in the prescribed area. This may require tethering mother goats or others, so the herd will stay in the desired area. The attendant would be required to do machete work, to improve access and provide the goats with difficult to reach food supplies. He would also carry water and a supply of a supplemental food, as an inducement to keep the animals around. I will eventually supply the attendant with either a horse or carabao, to haul supplies.

I have used cordless electric hedge cutting equipment extensively. Forage can be cut very quickly, using power equipment. I hope my brother-in-law can become proficient, since this would break up the monotony of constant machete work, and the goats would stick around, when they know that at any moment, he may drop more stuff that's hanging 12 feet above him.

I've had goats wait under trees where I'm doing pruning. I think they will stick around. I'm not sure about the situation with herding dogs. I didn't see any of that, but we will have dogs for protecting the property and livestock.

Goats will help to get rid of the tangly mess that often confronts those tackling neglected land. One man with a machete can only clear a small amount of land each day, and it will quickly grow in behind him. But when that man is accompanied by 50 goats, they will do more work than he does and they will make constant demands on their keeper, to bring down more stuff that is out of their reach.

  Goats are available for between $10 and $20 each, when a few months old. I've had goats before, so have a pretty good idea of what they would eat. We will start small with 10 or so, and see if someone is able to control them. If all goes well, I will increase the herd size, so that they can cover every bit of the farm, every few weeks.
.....
It's much easier to clear land that has been grazed regularly. If we are able to get a large chunk of land, it might be a couple years before we are able to convert it all to forest and cropland. By that time, I would expect to see most of the really brambly stuff gone, with grasses and fodder trees dominant.

 The goat herd will be reduced, as necessary, as we conquer more territory, but hopefully through good management, we will be able to increase the carrying capacity and always keep plenty of goats around, to eat up the trimmings from the ever-increasing supply of tree forage, from the cropland areas.
...........
Goats in the crop areas.

A Hedgerow and pathway will run parallel to the slope, along the lower portion of each crop area. Goats will be confined to this area.

Goat manure spreads easily and doesn't put too much nutrient in one place. They will be confined to pens or tethers, and fed weeds, from crop areas, and leaves from hedgerows.

Employees who are tasked with weeding, sometimes work at a leisurely pace. Goats are quite vocal, if there's something they like, that isn't coming fast enough. Free taskmasters, whose friendly nature, makes people want to feed them.

A mobile pen, could be moved along the perimeter of the field, so that goats can consume weeds delivered by workers, along with whatever is growing under foot and overhead. Workers will be carrying the basket of weeds, downhill. They will sometimes carry manure and leaf mulch from the goat feeding area, up to areas where it is needed.

The edges will contain legume trees, which can be fed, whenever weeds aren't coming fast enough. They can also be fed wilted azolla, and sometimes silage, if we experienced a dry period, when forage trees should be given a rest.

In this setting, goats fulfill 6 functions.

1. They eat the weeds.

2. They eat the tree cuttings

3. They keep the trail, between the trees and row crops open.

4. They push workers to continually provide weeds and to move the pen as they graze the path.

5. The cleared area they provide will give me another indicator of how much work is being done on any given day.

6. Preliminary processing of very bushy firewood.

Whenever there's enough food in one location, for them to cover the ground in poop, it will be raked up and hauled up slope, to plants in need of fertilizer.

If they can get along, there may be times when pigs and goats are penned together. Goats and pigs like to eat different things, so I think that having goats will actually increase available pig food, by converting roughage to easily used fertilizer.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Pigs on tether

Whenever plants are being harvested or weeded , there will be some things that are best fed to pigs and others for goats. A few pigs could be taken along with the goats to each work area.

If a small section of crop field is completely harvested, a pig can be tethered on a line that lets them only reach that area. The anchor must be strong.

A cage might also be used, but they might just tunnel under or lift it with their snouts.
 
pollinator
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On the first farm I interned on, at the direction of the optimistic farmer, I built a 14x16 pig tractor out of dimensional lumber and crappy screws, with  very heavy cattle fence wire over that.

It needed better fasteners and more lumber for corner bracing, neither of which were available. It was a pure miserable bitch to move with less than 4 people, 1 per corner. And this was on quite level ground


It held 6 pigs well until they were perhaps 100lbs. After that they quickly became strong enough to lift the edges with their nose and flip the side of the pen 2+ feet in the air.

They had never actually escaped when I left that farm, at which point they must have been approaching 140lbs.. but this seemed more in the way of good fortune than good design...


You could do better with bamboo if portability was the goal, but the sheer mass of the monstrousity was what kept them in.. So a lighter pen, would even more urgently require attachment to the ground....
 
Dale Hodgins
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I expect to build it quite heavily and on skids. The Buffalo can easily pull 1000 pounds. There are probably more skid carts than ones with wheels, on the farms.

Goat enclosures can be bamboo. Panels made of 1-inch uprights spaced every three inches are going to be very light and strong enough. A pig enclosure could also be built in bamboo, but I would want to use 4 inch material for the main beams and 2 inch material with thick walls, for the uprights. Much lighter than wood but it is still going to weigh a few hundred pounds

It's very cheap to get things custom made, so it might also be possible just to put four wheels on something.
 
Dale Hodgins
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The economics of using a buffalo instead of a tractor.

A good buffalo cost about $1,000.
...
A suitable small tractor is $3,000 to $5,000
......
Buffalo can pull a harrow or plow. It can skid logs. It can pull a cart.

It eats trees and grasses from the farm.

When well-trained, they can stay put and then come to the handler, when called.

They are self-replicating. About every two years, you can sell a calf for $1,000

It cost about $6 a day to pay the handler.
........
A tractor can do pretty much the same things. The tractor is probably better at pulling a plow or harrow, but not as good at pulling logs.

The tractor will need fuel and repairs.

They don't come when you call them and they are not self-replicating.

It costs about $6 a day to pay the man who drives the tractor.
........
There are torrential rains. Tractors get stuck. Buffalo are comfortable in mud beyond their shoulders. They don't seem to get stuck.

I'm sure there are some very good tractor operators. If I were operating the tractor , I expect that 80% of my time would be spent extracting myself from the mud, or repairing the tractor. When working on slopes, I would eventually roll the tractor, breaking my spine in the process.

The buffalo wins. It wasn't even close.
...........
The man and buffalo in the picture, are doing exactly what shouldn't be done on steep tropical slopes. They are plowing down corn stubble and he planned to replant corn. He had perfect control over the animal, who is very docile.

We fed our vegetable scraps to the buffalo, and we shared rambutan fruit with the man. Older workers sometimes have trouble finding work. I would gladly hire this guy, because he's so good with buffalo. Let the young men do the back breaking stuff.
IMG-20190823-WA0020.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG-20190823-WA0020.jpg]
 
Dale Hodgins
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Lots of thoughts on how to feed the animals on crop residues, in this thread.

https://permies.com/t/124796/Sisters-continuous-cropping-tropics-food

... Goat meat doesn't enjoy the same popularity as pork, and it's probably not as economic to produce. Goat cheese, is quite valuable, particularly if it is shipped overseas. Here in Canada, it goes for about $55 a kilogram, retail. The market will probably end up being a lot closer, but we're going to want to stuff our bags with something to get to the maximum weight limit, whenever we travel. I like that it's not so dependant on refrigeration, as if we were trying to store and sell milk.
 
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Dale Hodgins wrote:I'm sure we will try several types of pig. These large black ones are well adapted to the climate and they are good foragers. It's important that at least some of our pigs, not only root for their food, but also consume browse from trees and shrubs. We may want to use them to clean up ground cover in the edge zone between silvopasture and field crop zones. On hot days, which is almost every day, I would like to allow them to retreat to dense stands of giant lucina and neem. Some testing will be needed, to see if they decide to debark those trees. We can't have that. If they are bent on destruction, we will put chain link around maybe one acre of trees, so they can have a shade run. If they are well-behaved, I'd like to run them in many areas.

They will never be allowed to just roam the entire farm. I intend to grow several things that they are bound to destroy. I hope to make moringa leaf a big part of our income. The bark is tender, nutritious and tasty. Just about everyone throws moringa to their pigs, branches and all, and they completely debark it.

When managed for leaf, these trees are cut to within 3 feet of the ground, at least twice a year. The soft wood rots very quickly and does not make good charcoal or firewood. It is worthless as a building wood. So, I expect to throw all of our tops to the pigs, so they can eat it and then stomp all over it. It will then be mixed with manure for composting.



Hi Dale, I also live in the tropics (Morong, Bataan, Phililippines). We have a 3.2 hectare farm (http://MountainAir.farm). We have Large Black Pigs like the ones you pictured... one boar about 5ths old and 6 gilts about 8 months old... they will be breeding soon... there is a group for these LBP (https://www.facebook.com/groups/2396155430651969/). We are also planning to feed our pigs organically with the main staples of Moringa/Malunggay, Mulberry and Madre de Aqua. Also banana stalks and more. We now have over 7000 Moringa/Malunggay seedlings and hope to have a total of 30,000 before rainy season ends. These Moringa/Malunggay will be grown in hedges 2 meters wide, 0.4 meters on center (5 plants per width). We plan to harvest the Moringa/Malunggay like tea leaves. Some will be fed directly to pigs and some turned into pellets for other livestock.
Most of what we are doing/planning is similar to your 30 year plan. One exception is that we have piggeries and bring the food to the pigs.
We have had our farm going on 3 years... running a farm here is akin to herding cats... Workers here tend to not be loyal, don't care, wanna do things their way and don't work well unless someone is watching. We now have 5 permanent workers and 2 seasonal. One worker we have had from the beginning and slowly have added the others... but we went through a LOT of workers getting to those 5.
We have found it best to not push and just go one day at a time... so things don't get stressed.  Sometimes it seems like no progress is being made, but then when we walk around we can see our dreams coming true.

Everyone will tell you that growing Moringa/Malunggay is easy, but if you want more than a few trees... it is not. At least not intuitive like sticking a few seeds in the ground. (yep, I did that... with ZERO results). We now have soldiered on and have a strategy that seems to be working.

Well, I am new here... hope to hear more about your progress. I found this thread today because I am looking for a tropical "high energy"(starch) pig feed replacement for corn.

You can read a little more about my dreams here... https://www.facebook.com/groups/CFTWI/

RonnyInBataan
https://www.facebook.com/ronny.mauldin51
 
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❤️ simple seems like such a great idea. How's yours going?
 
pollinator
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Hi Dale,

wondering what is the real outcome now two years after the post went
silent.
Did you get pigs and if, did they work after your plans?

I am since 2014 working out the "perfect" Silvopasture and getting close enough to start this winter my farm.
With chickens first and maybe 2 pigs (of 20 planned).

One thing caught my eye was you wanted to start with a lot or Leucaena which is in Thailand not recommended to go above
15%.
It's said too much is poisonous for pigs.

Moringa will be also a major part of my Silvopasture BUT the hook is, even it is looking like a nitrogen fixing tree, unfortunately it isn't.
But thinking only trees in Silvopasture makes no Silvopasture and lacking nitrogen fixer makes it a disaster to come.

But there are enough lower plants that are brilliant to add the missing group of nitrogen fixer.
Arachis pintoi or Pinto Peanut.
As more it get stressed by grazing as better it grows, pigs love them too...

Well, 8 years trials on my father in Law's Land gave me a huge advantage.
He is too old for pigs (loves his fighting Chickens) and so I could try and try, fail and fail and fail...
...until I am ready to start on my own Land.

certainly nice to hear what you have done and found out over the past 2 years..

Cheers


 
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Any updates on this?

I have experience keeping pigs in -40 C to +50 C but I am definitely interested in your project. How did it go?

Dale Hodgins wrote:Starting a Tropical Piggery

I hope some nice moderator will put this thread in Tropical and Pigs. I put it here because I plan for this farm to be quite large.
.......
Here in the southern  Philippines, the weather is perfect for pigs. We never get under 70 Fahrenheit and it seldom gets over 90. Pigs raised with a wallow and shade, don't require any heating or cooling. This helps with feed conversion. Every pig wallowing in mega-farm shit, wishes he could live on a tropical island.

Good quality mixed feeds are available. Small farms almost always supplement this feed with waste products from other operations, like cut and carry feed, including grasses, unsaleable fruit, and leaves from nitrogen producing trees. Restaurant waste and leftovers from the markets, are fed to pigs... Successful use of supplemental feed often determines profitability.

Pork is worth between 2 and 4 dollars per pound, at the market, depending on the cut. I expect to market most of mine on restaurant plates. Sometimes we will roast whole hogs on a spit. Very popular here. The cost of pork is often the single greatest cost for a restaurant. I want to have my own supply and all of the vegetables that grow well in pig manure.

One goal, is to have all of the manure I need, to get thousands of young trees up and going, on a plantation that will specialize in dried leaf and spices for the foreign market. There will be lots of other crops grown between the trees. Sweet corn and beans are popular and their waste can be ground up and fed to pigs.

I expect at least half of our trees to be nitrogen producers that far surpass clover and alfalfa in their ability to provide protein and biomass.

The primary export crop will be moringa leaf. When the little leaves are stripped from the stems, to make dried leaf powder, about 25% of the weight is a fairly soft stem that has protein, vitamins and minerals. Sounds like pig food to me.

We will cover much of our land, in nitrogen producers such as giant luceana, tagasaste and pigeon peas. Giant luceana will be grown for saw logs, but probably half of the volume will only be good for firewood or charcoal. I want to be in the energy business. In rural  Philippines, that doesn't mean oil wells. It means fire wood and charcoal. Two things that are in great demand and sometimes short supply.
........
It all starts with pigs. When I first decided that we need a plantation, I thought we would start with trees.

 I didn't realize until recently,  that my export spice and leaf business, with rental rooms, horses and camping, must start with pigs.

Most land that is available at rock bottom prices, has been seriously abused. A program of forage tree planting, manure application and crowd grazing, is required to turn it into something other than scrubland. I want that to be a mixture of regenerated forest and useful farmland. It must be a beautiful place to visit, and to live.
........
For just about anything to be successful, someone must live there full time. This is to prevent theft of tools and crops and to prevent others from squatting on the land. A pig farm gives an instant reason for workers to live there. That is the preference for most farm workers. They don't want to have to pay rent somewhere.

Areas to be planted, must first be cleared of other growth. In most cases, what is already there won't be palatable to pigs. It often requires machete work and yields some firewood and very fibrous material that might be suitable for bedding. After ground has been cleared of this stuff, it can be fertilized with pig manure and it will grow grasses, sweet potatoes  and other things that pigs like.

The default crop in many areas, are coconuts that are barely worth picking off the ground. Lots of places that are for sale, contain the trees that the last guy couldn't make any money from. They can be worth 50 cents each in the city, but often only five cents in the countryside. They make excellent pig food. Coconuts don't live a long time. As they die out, we will replace them with more profitable crops.
...
Since I've never run a pig farm, I will hire someone who has. They are available for about $6 a day. I will also hire my brother in law, but he will not be in charge. I want someone experienced to teach him everything, so that he can one day do it himself. Most of his work experience involves swinging a machete at a coconut. He will be in charge of gathering cut and carry feed and digging tree planting holes anywhere that I put a stake in the ground.
...
Manure handling will be the most difficult thing to teach workers. I want this manure to be used for the establishment of trees and other crops. I want it to be mixed with lots of bedding.

I want it kept dry and contained, so that nothing ever runs into the river. I don't want it to stink.

This all sounds simple enough, but manure handling is the most common thing I see going wrong on small farms, mostly because no one has impressed it upon the workers that this is important, and that their jobs depend on it.

Often, pigs are kept without bedding or without enough beddeng. This creates a stinky situation, where nutrients are leaving by air and often by water. I want to convert a lot of rough fiber, to usable compost and mulch. This is easily achieved by mixing it with pig shit. 

So, I have to find a way to make Sonny, my brother in law and the other guy, prioritize the creation and utilization of bedding. Pretty easy to do when I'm there, but there will be times when I'm away for months. It might be as simple as insisting on a video call every day. And we could mark out daily allotments for machete clearing. The cleared material becomes bedding.

Rice hulls, bagasse and some other waste materials are available free, in large quantity.

I envision using a large concrete sewage lagoon that has a roof over it. Right beside it should be a silo for rice hulls, corn cobs, peanut hulls etc. that could be used to absorb liquid and smells.

You can almost always trust workers to feed and water the animals. It will take lots of oversight to make sure that they clear the land, to create bedding and gather manure to the lagoon on a daily basis. Given the opportunity, many people will avoid jobs they consider unsavory.

Big side note...
 I have witnessed hundreds of employees in this country, lounging and socializing when there is work to be done. When there are few customers, the girls at 7-eleven make phone calls and chat, while every table is covered in food packaging and ketchup splatters. When I ask for a washcloth, one of them usually rushes out to clean one table, before she goes back to yakking.

I had to yell several times to get the attention of the girls selling rice at a roadside market, owned by their parents. Both were so engrossed in Facebook, that they allowed several customers to move along, without buying anything. It's absolutely rampant, and probably the number one reason why I will look for mostly male workers. They don't seem nearly so attached to their phones. Even then, phones may need to be locked in a cabinet during work hours.
........
Marketing... With many endeavors, probably most of them, marketing is what makes or breaks it. Marketing is simply not a problem with pork in the Philippines. If the price and quality are right, it's a very easy thing to sell. So it's all about production. Feeding the animals and keeping them healthy and growing, at low cost. Preventing theft is right up there as well, which is why the operation needs to be large enough that it's worth always having someone there, night and day.
.......
The majority of new agricultural  enterprises seem to focus on producing one or a couple of commodities, often with purchased inputs.

 My goal is to improve the land by covering it with crop trees and forests. It has to be nice enough that people will want to rent a room, a horse, a motorcycle or spend money in other ways.

 It can't look or smell like a regular pig farm. Pigs must occupy a small percentage of the land at any given time, but if they are a good money maker, it's ok for much of the farm to be given over to producing their food.

 Pork production will allow me to feed a restaurant, workers and motel guests. It will also feed the soil.

Pigs can be used in land clearing and maintenance. The moving of fencing and tethers, the bringing of water and feeding in remote corners of the farm, can be a labor-intensive thing. That's ok, when the entire cost of employment is under $10 a day, for a person to handle these tasks while at the same time, doing machete work and digging holes in prescribed places for new trees.

The costs of doing this is low enough that I don't mind giving it a year-long trial. It's likely, that at first, the majority of feed will be purchased, which will consume most income. All that bought feed, will give a nutrient boost to the land.

Low-grade sugarcane can be the primary energy source for pigs. The juice is pressed out, leaving large amounts of bagasse which is a good mulch.

 Rock powders and mineral rich salt licks will help to build soil.

I expect to improve the land in an ever widening area around the pig house. As land becomes productive, it will be put into paddock rotation. We will also produce fruit and vegetables in the improved areas, and graze each block after harvest.

 Forage grows all year. Mixtures of corn and beans and other things can be produced all year. There's a 2 month dry period, but even then there's pretty regular, light rainfall.

Forage trees can produce some roughage when annual crops are in short supply. Many crops don't have a season, they just give you a harvest somewhere between 40 and 120 days after planting.

It's easy to see why poor farmers, with small amounts of land are able to deplete it so thoroughly. Many crops per year, in a wet climate, often without replenishment of nutrients. Works with slash and burn, but much of this land has been continuously cultivated for generations.
......
During periods of abundance, we will fill a silo. Some things are more easily digested after fermenting. Luceana and tagasaste are more palatable when fermented with sugar cane or molasses. When cassava is finely chopped and sun dried, then turned into silage, most cyanide is removed.
......
 Pigs have been shown to thrive on silage that is 70% azolla. Azolla can be over 25% protein when dry. The remainder can be mostly, cassava, sugar cane or corn stocks with other starches, such as sweet potatoes or breadfruit.
....
It's possible to raise pigs on pasture, without purchased grain. Native pigs don't usually get grain unless they steal it. Pasture that contains lots of pigeon peas and beans, can provide more protein than if only grasses were used.
....
Azolla produces more protein than any other thing I could grow. Areas that hold water naturally, will be managed for azolla, mostly by controlling phosphorus levels. I've seen pigs and chickens eating azolla on YouTube. Temporary ponds made by laying out rubber and raising the sides, could be used to contain water for azolla growth and when the pond is moved, we would have soil beneath with all weeds smothered.

Azolla is by far the fastest nitrogen producer to release that nitrogen to other crops. Within a few weeks of seeding a pond, it can be fed to animals who will spread fertility around the farm. Narrow ponds could be used to build a moat around crops that need to be protected from ground crawling critters. Chickens can feed directly from azolla ponds. Pigs would destroy the liner, so they must be fenced out , except for a small area just big enough to drink from.

One video showed pigs harvesting their own azolla from a pond, but it is so wet that it can cause the runs. After spending a day in the sun and losing 3/4 of its weight, pigs readily consume it. It can provide virtually all protein but must be mixed with sources of energy and fiber.
........
Controlling smell.
Smell control is mostly about proper manure handling. Workers will be instructed to gather up every bit of manure that is near the house. Manure around pig housing will be either smothered in bedding or placed in a covered lagoon. Wallows can get smelly. Sometimes the old clay may need to be spread, away from the dwelling and new clay put in place of it.

Every new thing that gets planted will need manure. If work is being done as instructed, there should never be a surplus.

Every new tree that is planted, could use a wheelbarrow load. Every new banana pit, could use 10 wheelbarrows.

Eventually I want most manure to go into a biogas generator. The gas is needed, once we start cooking for many people. It could also power a forage chopper or generator.

Chickens. Chickens can be raised in the tropics without any supplemental feed. My mother-in-law collects eggs daily, but does not feed her chickens. She provides them with housing and a dog that scares away predators. They are responsible for finding their own food and water. It's working for her. She does no other management of her little plot of land.

 Chickens can be part of a rotation with pigs and they don't eat much of what the pig would want. They will pick fly larvae and dung beetles anywhere that manure has been deposited, and in the process, they spread that manure over a wider area. They eat many insects that consume forage crops. They are better mousers than the majority of cats.

 I'm not sure what the chicken to pig ratio should be, but I suspect that we could have many more chickens. They are much smaller. There's probably a population density where they will eat up all of the dung beetles and I'm not sure how important that is. Chickens will also extirpate certain types of snakes, mostly through the killing of baby snakes. So, there needs to be places of refuge for those snakes. Pretty easy to do in the sort of rough land I've been looking at, where only 10 to 50% could ever be cropland. Lots of steep rocky spots that are best returned to forest.
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Goats, cattle and buffalo. When sugar cane or corn are being used to feed pigs, there are portions of the plants which are better utilized by ruminants. The tops of sugarcane are readily devoured by all of them. Corn stalks and bean vines and other fibrous crop residue that pigs may reject, are suitable for the ruminants. Several types of nitrogen producing tree are not top dietary choices for pigs, but the others do well on them, so it is their manure that would spread that fertility around the farm.

 The carabao, descended from the Chinese swamp buffalo is a very powerful animal, but also a docile and cooperative beast of burden. I expect to use at least one of them to haul the big cart that would be loaded with cut and carry feed for the pigs. They are also very useful in log skidding and general land clearing.

Ruminants will only be added after pigs and chicken are well-established, along with the forage trees that they help to grow. I think we would start with just enough goats to consume roughage that the pigs reject. There's no point getting a carabao, until there's at least half a ton of cut and carry to be hauled each day.

We are going to need some biochar. I wasn't completely sold on biochar while living in Canada, where hugelkultur performs pretty well. Wood placed in 80° soil that is wet all year, disappears very quickly. I want something that doesn't have to be replenished constantly.

We have pretty much the same type of climate and soil, as in the Amazon, where Terra Preta soil was first discovered.

Charcoal manufacture is often quite primitive. I know how to build a good quality kiln and can come up with lots of uses for the gases that are normally burnt off or allowed to pollute the neighbourhood. So, I will produce charcoal from my own tree cuttings, but also from free rice hulls and bagasse.

I will also offer my services to create charcoal from other people's trees. This will be done for a percentage of the finished product. Little bits and bark, often flake off of charcoal and are left as waste in the bottom of the kiln, along with some ash. I will use or sell my good charcoal and the low grade stuff, along with ash, will be added to the soil. It probably won't be broadcast on the soil. I think it makes sense to mix it with manure in order to control odour, but also to raise pH and allow the charcoal portion to become saturated with nutrients.

 After a certain amount of time in the lagoon, manure will be mixed with rice hulls or other materials, to make it dry enough that it can sit in big piles, under a roof, with a tarp on it. I don't know how long it will take for this manure to be ready to spread. It's likely that a pile like this will stay a little warmer than the average temperature of 85 degrees. There's only a three degree difference between the hottest and coldest month.
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I think it's best to write the book after this project is well established, so I will stop here and await input from others.

Do any of you have other ideas of how you would make money and build soil fertility, using pigs, 6.5 degrees from the equator?

 
These are not the droids you are looking for. Perhaps I can interest you in a tiny ad?
Green University by Thomas Elpel
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