Native Bee Guide by Crown Bees
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S Carreg

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since Mar 29, 2013
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Recent posts by S Carreg

Thank you for that, it's a good tip and I will definitely keep a close eye on how they react to it. The breeder - who comes highly recommended and with several generations of experience - says they have used up to 50% SBG at times when it was available and the pigs have thrived. But as we're newbies we'll be cautious.
10 years ago
Just wanted to clear up this common misconception that spent brewing grain has been fermented or is alcoholic. It's not. In the brewing process you take malted grain and mash it - basically steeping it in hot water - usually for no more than an hour. You then strain out the solids, and the wort - the liquid - goes on to be fermented into alcohol.
So the grain has only been steeped in hot water, thus extracting the fermentable sugars (most of the carbohydrate) and leaving behind high bulk fiber and protein content. The resulting SBG is in no way fermented or alcoholic. It will go on to ferment if left like that, but there is also a high risk of spoilage. We find that our SBG keeps fine for about a week in sealed plastic tubs, but I wouldn't feed it to stock beyond 1 week old. Our chickens love it but they only ever eat about 1/3 of what they are offered (whatever the amount) - I think they pick out the best bits and leave the chaff.

We are getting our first pigs soon and hoping that SBG will form a large part of their diet - the breeder we are getting them from says that for up to 50% of their diet it should be fine.
10 years ago
Yep, that seems likely, I have seen some of those pupae cases in the compost pile and in the lasagne bed. I had not noticed any in the tunnel, but I guess that's likely. So what do I do? Some sites said basically, just assume a certain % of loss, some suggested grounds/DE, and some said cultivate heavily - bit of a problem there since i am aiming for no-dig/little-dig in much of the garden... any suggestions?
I grew borage from seed and planted about half of them out when they were sort of palm-sized with two pairs of true leaves. Some in the polytunnel (my first season with indoor grow space) and some outside. Nearly all of the ones I planted, both indoors and out, have been nipped off right at the soil level but otherwise undamaged, just left lying there.
Ive got broad beans coming up in the tunnel and a few days after the borage massacre, about 1/3 of these were also nipped off at the ground, but left lying there. I've never really had this happen before.
There is other stuff around and growing, both inside and out, although not tons.

Some slugs have been spotted, not much damage yet, and this doesn't look like slugs to me.

All but one of the borage seedlings were NOT near any mulch or woodchip.

There certainly are mice in the area but not really infesting, as far as I can tell.

What on earth is going on?
I don't know - I don't know anything about horn fly. Just from googling, it says eggs are laid in fresh cow dung and the larval stage is not that long. The cow muck we had was delivered (from a local farmer) in October, and it was already a couple of months old then. The heap steamed for a couple of weeks and then cooled down. In late October I spread it thickly on the lasagna beds and left the rest in the heap. We have not had a cold winter, temperatures have stayed above freezing except a few brief hard frosts, we have had a lot of rain. I don't know if HF maggots would still be around after all that time?
10 years ago
That could be it, although I think they are shorter and more 'grub like' and less 'wriggly' than the pictures of those I've been looking at.

Are there any parasites that I would need to worry about that they could potentially be?
10 years ago
Upon further investigation I saw fewer of the things that looked like actual worms, and more of the things that looked like grubs. White, less than 1 cm long, and not wriggly in the same way as worms. They are most concentrated in the 'lasagna' bed where large lumps of cow muck have not broken down well, they are in the middle of such lumps. They are in clusters, not throughout.
10 years ago
I'm interested to hear how your work goes. I know dozens of people around here who feed SBG straight to pigs with no processing, in many cases making up 50%+ of the pigs' diet, and have only ever heard positive things. We have a nanobrewery and currently our chickens and ducks eat most of the waste, but we're planning on increasing production and feeding the SBG to pigs - it was appealing because of the ease and convenience. if an intermediate step is necessary it's a lot less appealing! But as I say, this is not the experience of people I know, so I am curious.
10 years ago
I have discovered tiny white worms in two places. The first place was in a large pile of woodchip - shredded fresh a few months ago and left untouched except for the chickens scratching around in it. Then the chickens were gone for a month and the pile had lots of rain. When I came back I dug out a scoop and discovered tiny white grubs, 1cm or less long, and very thin. they looked like grubs but they might have been worms.

The chickens did have worms at one point in the fall, I cleaned out their coop thoroughly, disposed of the bedding far away, dusted everything with DE, and have not had any obvious reoccurence of worms. I don't think the grubs are the same as what I saw in the chicken coop but I can't be 100% sure. The chickens free range over a very large area.

Then yesterday I went to check on my 'lasagna' bed - last August I piled up 12" of woodchip, 8-12" of semi-composted cow muck (cow poop mixed with straw), topped it with 12" of dried hay. It's been out in the rain since then untouched. When I dug into it I discovered these white worms in the cow muck layer - but impossible to tell if they came from the cow muck or the woodchip. I'm not 100% sure these are the same as the ones in the woodchip pile, as these looked more like worms and less like grubs - these are 1-2cm long and very thin and wriggly. They are totally white. This bed has not decomposed as much as I would have hoped - all the elements are still indentifiable. But it also has plenty of nice fat, healthy-looking earthworms in it. I think mostly earthworms, not red wrigglers, although I have plenty of those in my garden compost heap.

So, does anyone have a clue about this white grubs and/or worms? Should I panic - are they horrible parasites and having them near my chickens, compost, and vegetable garden going to make me terribly ill? Or are they juvenile earthworms? Or something else? Help!
10 years ago
I want to put some pigs on a swampy/marshy area. The problem is how to fence it because the ground is so wet - some is mud, some is standing water, it's all covered with tussocky grass. I'm not sure about getting fence posts in there solidly enough for wire fencing, and with electrical I am worried about clearing an area well enough to keep it from grounding out. One side of the area is a very steep old railway embankment fenced off with a solid fence which is two strands of barbed wire. I don't know if they'd be able to get under the wire, or if they would try to climb the bank (my brother who has experience with pigs reckons probably not but isn't totally sure). The other side, if they got out of whatever fence I manage to erect, is a small river, 6-8 feet across and 2-5 feet deep. Would they swim this? How worried would I need to be about that? My plan is to get weaners and keep them in a small paddock on a raised dry area for a while until they are used to 'homebase' and a bit bigger, then give them access to the swampy area. But I am concerned about how to keep them in a contained area of the swamp. Any advice appreciated!
10 years ago