I'm wondering if any of you could help me make a plan for raising pigs. I would like to keep from buying as much food as possible and grow as much of it as possible.
First off, I've never raised pigs. I've been reading a lot all over the web and am just getting more and more confused. I keep reading to plant rutabagas, mangels, squash etc in the pasture and rotate them through the planted land. I'm in eastern Canada, with a very short growing season, can this possibly work? Are they just supposed to graze the green tops of these plants all summer or are these meant to be late season root crops? How fast do they grow?I don't plan on keeping any pigs through the winter, at least not at first, so if the beets, rutabegas and squash are meant as winter feed, what do they eat in summer? I'm totally lost here.
I also have access to hundreds of pounds of free , fresh mackerel for a couple weeks in mid-late July, seems to me that would be a good source of protein and fat, with a good 2-3 months to finish on apples and other feeds so any fishy taste should have plenty of time to dissipate. Any thoughts?
Would cooked beaver and muskrat carcasses be OK In moderation?
What would be the minimum amount of pasture needed to feed one or two hogs? What should I plant as food? Is it even possible to pasture pigs in my climate?
martin doucet wrote:I'm wondering if any of you could help me make a plan for raising pigs. I would like to keep from buying as much food as possible and grow as much of it as possible.
Having a plan is fine but the information load will be overwhelming. I would suggest easing into things. Get two to four feeder weaner pigs this spring and raise them up over the easy warm season. For your first year start out feeding a commercial hog grower feed so you don't have to figure the ration. Then start adding other things you have. The fish is good but not in the last month or longer or it may flavor the meat. Same for other strong flavors.
For your first year just get some pigs. Don't worry too much about breed. You need to get a little infrastructure in place like fencing and get your feet muddy, get some experience. You'll know a whole lot more after one seasons pigs. You'll better understand what questions to think about.
martin doucet wrote:What would be the minimum amount of pasture needed to feed one or two hogs? What should I plant as food?
I figure I can raise about ten pigs per acre with our pig genetic on our pastures in our climate using managed rotational grazing. The rotational grazing is critical. This article will help you:
and then from there follow the links about grazing and feeding to see how we do it. There are many ways to raise a pig. Anything anyone else is doing needs to be adapted to your local climate, resources, skills and style.
martin doucet wrote:Is it even possible to pasture pigs in my climate?
I'm in the mountains of northern central Vermont which is USDA Zone 3 - probably pretty similar to where you are. We raise pigs on pasture. Pasture makes up about 80% of their diet. I've done them purely on pasture but get better growth rates when supplementing with some dairy or other things as available. Good food makes good meat. Winter is a _LOT_ harder. Get your experience through the warm season first.
The articles in this and other forums are gold. Find a breeder of pigs and get a deposit down. Then start reading the back articles.
A good book is "Small Scale Pig Raising". It is an oldie but excellent book which just came out again in 2014 in an updated version. That is the first book I would suggest.
Thanks for the response Walter. That all sounds like very good advice. The pigs will have to wait until next year, but your suggestions will be helpful when the time does come. I think you're right, I'm probably over thinking this, but I do like to have a solid plan before starting things.
I wonder if USDA zones are the same as the zones in Canada, all I know is I'm in zone 5.
you got a microbrewery close to you? my local nano brew has promised 100-150kg of mashed barley every week. thats great FREE feed. also our local markets have agreed to give us 'expired' produce. use all your resources.