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  #1  
Old 04/10/13, 03:30 PM
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Fodder for pigs

I am thinking of starting a home made fodder system to feed my pigs. We buy 3 feeder pigs in the spring and I want to do 3 more this fall. Next year I want to get 2 breeder Idaho Pasture Pigs (IPPs) gilts and breed them to a friends Berkshire boar. I need to bring feeding costs down before I start breeding. Does anyone else feed fodder to their pigs? What advice do you have?

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  #2  
Old 04/10/13, 04:40 PM
 
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My pigs love fodder. But I can't imagine how much you would have to grow to make an impact in your feed costs. It's wonderful food but pasturing is easier if its avaliable.

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  #3  
Old 04/10/13, 05:02 PM
 
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CJ, what do you put in the pasture? I don't think we have enough space to move them frequently enough to keep them from destroying any of the plants they really enjoy, any tips?

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Old 04/10/13, 09:19 PM
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Pasture can be very small. The key is to divide up the space into at least four sections and then move the pigs at least weekly. This is managed rotational grazing at its simplest. More paddocks is good and really you want to move out based on grazing down with a maximum in time of no more than 20 days on a paddock so as to break parasite cycles. Move in based on a minimum of 21 days, preferably 30 days or more and then based on forage growth. That's the ideal range.

I also use rooting as a sign to move out. Reality can be pretty simple. This breaks parasite cycles, maximizes grazing, minimizes rooting, minimizes soil compaction. Over time the pastures improve.

Cheers,

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/

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  #5  
Old 04/10/13, 09:39 PM
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There is a guy on the highway up from me that is using a hot wire to graze cattle in a wagon wheel on oats. He also has about a dozen shoats that are following the cattle.

Like Walter said, when they start rooting, they move over one.

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  #6  
Old 04/11/13, 12:28 AM
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I tried fodder....didn't put a dent in the feed costs because i only has so much capacity for trays. the Sow loved having salad with breakfast....but you are basically only adding water weight to your food. So while you are increasing digestibility 8 lbs of fodder is not equal to 8 lbs dry food. My one pig would have needed a good 30 lbs sprouted weight....at least. While barley goes from 10% protein dry to 14% sprouted after 6 days that is still shy a couple percentage points of protein for growing pigs. Thats fine for keepin' em, but not growin' em.

The pigs loved having both grain and fodder grass...but its alot of work for not much measurable gain. Now chickens? Their egg output quadrupled with fodder. I would like to run an experiement with a few sows and see if those who are flushed with fodder before breeding have larger litters....but i don't have the capacity to run that kind of experiment!

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  #7  
Old 04/11/13, 07:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ErikaMay View Post
I tried fodder....didn't put a dent in the feed costs because i only has so much capacity for trays. the Sow loved having salad with breakfast....but you are basically only adding water weight to your food. So while you are increasing digestibility 8 lbs of fodder is not equal to 8 lbs dry food. My one pig would have needed a good 30 lbs sprouted weight....at least. While barley goes from 10% protein dry to 14% sprouted after 6 days that is still shy a couple percentage points of protein for growing pigs. Thats fine for keepin' em, but not growin' em.

The pigs loved having both grain and fodder grass...but its alot of work for not much measurable gain. Now chickens? Their egg output quadrupled with fodder. I would like to run an experiement with a few sows and see if those who are flushed with fodder before breeding have larger litters....but i don't have the capacity to run that kind of experiment!
I agree with you about fodder grass in trays and such. I tried that awhile back and it just didn't work out.

O.T. a bit. I was just wondering if you were comparing egg output with chickens on regular laying feed vs. fodder ?

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Old 04/11/13, 11:55 PM
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The chicken thing was with my neighbours chickens. They have 10 girls who were giving them 2 eggs tops a day so they figured they were laid out. Now they are on Purina Layna with oyster available free choice. I started throwing them fodder and their egg out put went 4-3-4-3-6-5-4. Then my fodder got moldy and i threw it out. Their chickens went a few days without fodder and dropped down to one egg a day. I started giving it to them again and their output jumped up again. Then I gave up the whole fodder thing and they are hardly getting any eggs at all. I need to show them how to do it....its not hard to make enough for chickens, but for pigs? its a pain in the butt! Particularly if they have pasture already available.

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  #9  
Old 04/12/13, 09:21 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ErikaMay View Post
The chicken thing was with my neighbours chickens. They have 10 girls who were giving them 2 eggs tops a day so they figured they were laid out. Now they are on Purina Layna with oyster available free choice. I started throwing them fodder and their egg out put went 4-3-4-3-6-5-4. Then my fodder got moldy and i threw it out. Their chickens went a few days without fodder and dropped down to one egg a day. I started giving it to them again and their output jumped up again. Then I gave up the whole fodder thing and they are hardly getting any eggs at all. I need to show them how to do it....its not hard to make enough for chickens, but for pigs? its a pain in the butt! Particularly if they have pasture already available.
Thanks for your reply. Good too know about the green feed. When on the farm years ago the chickens had lots of green grass etc. outside and did very well for eggs. But in the winter the eggs production dropped a lot.
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  #10  
Old 04/12/13, 03:47 PM
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I've read about the fodder systems and looked at the adds but I have a hard time seeing them pay back. It looks to me like one is just buying a lot of grain (seed) and adding water but not letting the plants grow enough to really get the benefits of growing pasture. Instead we feed hay in the winter. I use about 400 lbs of hay per growing pig per winter - that's dry weight. Wet that would be a lot more and require a lot of fodder trays. I'm sure the animals would like it but don't see it as being economically viable. If anyone does it on a large scale (~400 pigs) for a year I would be very interested to know how it goes.

We keep a lot of chickens. Mostly for their organic pest control but also for the egg production. We rarely feed commercial feed to the chickens. In the warm months they eat insects and pasture. In the winter they get meat, pastured pork, from our pigs. Feeding meat and having a light to give them 14 hours of light a day keeps the egg production up fairly well right through the winter. Egg production does drop in the worst of winter but there are still lots. Cooking eggs doubles the available protein. I tend to concentrate the egg supplement to the younger pigs. Older pigs rarely get any eggs.

Cheers,

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/

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  #11  
Old 04/12/13, 11:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by highlands View Post
I've read about the fodder systems and looked at the adds but I have a hard time seeing them pay back. It looks to me like one is just buying a lot of grain (seed) and adding water but not letting the plants grow enough to really get the benefits of growing pasture. Instead we feed hay in the winter. I use about 400 lbs of hay per growing pig per winter - that's dry weight. Wet that would be a lot more and require a lot of fodder trays. I'm sure the animals would like it but don't see it as being economically viable. If anyone does it on a large scale (~400 pigs) for a year I would be very interested to know how it goes.
There is this place thats had alot of success with it for fiber animals: http://pacapride.wordpress.com/2012/...outing-trials/ They arn't large scale, though. I will hopefully run into that montana shephard again who first told me about fodder and see how it went for him doing it large scale for his sheep. He was saying it would allow him to triple his herd.

I think its a nice supplement in the winter. The animals really appreciate "salad" that time of year....but it think its most viable as a supplement and not a full feed system. I found my sow was happy with half a tray a day. I might do it again in the winter, but in the summer when there is grass and foraging in the woods to be done? no way!
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Old 04/13/13, 08:23 PM
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I think you are right, that the animals would love the supplement of fresh greens in the winter. My problem is figuring out how to make it work on a larger scale. I've thought about this sort of thing for years. Envisioned putting a whole acre under glass. But for 400 pigs it becomes just a taste of summer and at a very high cost.

The best thing I've found I can grow in our cold season in greenhouses is kale. Does well in the low light and cool temps producing very large plants which can be cut from. I did this for rabbits, chickens and ducks for years. Pigs love it too. But it isn't much.

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  #13  
Old 04/13/13, 10:49 PM
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Walter, this is off topic but where do you get your seeds from? I was looking at bulk prices from Johnnys for kale and its pricey for the amount I would need to broadcast around. My pasture is finally starting to recover from the terrible thatching last year, but i really need to add more plant variety.

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Old 04/14/13, 09:12 AM
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Yes, they are expensive. Fortunately it regrows both from the plant's seed and from the roots protected by our deep snows. Kale and rape I planted in 2009 were still putting put new leaves last year as well as seedlings from their pods. I expect that again this year although it is too early to tell - we still have snow. It's snowing right now as I write this. Spring will come.

My suggesting is to get some of many varieties since some do better in some soils and micro-climates than others. Then observe what does well.

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  #15  
Old 04/15/13, 06:24 AM
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Originally Posted by highlands View Post
I think you are right, that the animals would love the supplement of fresh greens in the winter. My problem is figuring out how to make it work on a larger scale. I've thought about this sort of thing for years. Envisioned putting a whole acre under glass. But for 400 pigs it becomes just a taste of summer and at a very high cost.

The best thing I've found I can grow in our cold season in greenhouses is kale. Does well in the low light and cool temps producing very large plants which can be cut from. I did this for rabbits, chickens and ducks for years. Pigs love it too. But it isn't much.
I am going to experiment this year with Kale. After doing some research, I found that Kale has such super high amounts of calcium and iron. Almost as much as sardines. I do so much preserving here that I was thinking about possibly dehydrating some, bagging it in a vacume sealer and then using it in the late winter/early spring as a supplement around farrowing time seeing as calcium is so important for sows, and the extra iron should be good for nursing piglets seeing as we don't do iron shots. I was sold on kale after a piggy friend of mine has a sow that was apparently bleeding internally from a hard birth (20 piglets). She was off her feed but would drink however was looking mighty anemic and had prolonged birthing fever. I blanched some kale and saved the water as well, put the whole thing in a blender and added it to her water. She drank it down with gusto and was back to eating the next morning! It could have been coincidence but I made some more of this concoction and froze it into icecube trays for her so she can add it to her water and also give it to her other sows. I know this sounds crazy but anything that is a natural alternative is good in my book!
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Old 04/15/13, 06:44 AM
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Originally Posted by ErikaMay View Post
There is this place thats had alot of success with it for fiber animals: http://pacapride.wordpress.com/2012/...outing-trials/ They arn't large scale, though. I will hopefully run into that montana shephard again who first told me about fodder and see how it went for him doing it large scale for his sheep. He was saying it would allow him to triple his herd.

I think its a nice supplement in the winter. The animals really appreciate "salad" that time of year....but it think its most viable as a supplement and not a full feed system. I found my sow was happy with half a tray a day. I might do it again in the winter, but in the summer when there is grass and foraging in the woods to be done? no way!
Thank's Erika,
Although I question using bleach to soak the seeds. I have read elsewhere to use hydrogen peroxide. I don't use bleach around anything food in my house. I plan on keeping it low scale. 2 sows. Will probably wait till this fall to start the setup. I'll be busy with a garden this year.
I will have them on pasture and will rotate them weekly. When out on pasture: do you feed any grain?
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  #17  
Old 04/25/13, 12:45 PM
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We feed our entire ranch fodder and have seed about a 40% decrease in our feed costs. We designed the system our self and are producing 60lbs of feed. Now that it is functioning properly we will be doubling the system to get 120-150lbs of fodder a day.

You can see the set-up on our blog or listen to the podcast I did on The Survival Podcast.

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  #18  
Old 05/01/13, 08:15 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ErikaMay View Post
I tried fodder....didn't put a dent in the feed costs because i only has so much capacity for trays. the Sow loved having salad with breakfast....but you are basically only adding water weight to your food. So while you are increasing digestibility 8 lbs of fodder is not equal to 8 lbs dry food. My one pig would have needed a good 30 lbs sprouted weight....at least. While barley goes from 10% protein dry to 14% sprouted after 6 days that is still shy a couple percentage points of protein for growing pigs. Thats fine for keepin' em, but not growin' em.

The pigs loved having both grain and fodder grass...but its alot of work for not much measurable gain. Now chickens? Their egg output quadrupled with fodder. I would like to run an experiement with a few sows and see if those who are flushed with fodder before breeding have larger litters....but i don't have the capacity to run that kind of experiment!
When I first got my little pigs, I could really smell them in the barn. After having them a few weeks and feeding them fodder and soy free feed, I don't notice the smell anymore.

Did you notice a difference in the smell when you where feeding fodder? I'm not sure if it's the fodder or the lack of soy in their feed.
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Old 05/01/13, 10:52 AM
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I have had many farm visitors that are amazed I have pigs and they cannot smell them. I believe it is the commercial feed that makes their poop stink! I am not saying there isn't any smell but it seems to not linger after they do their business.

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  #20  
Old 05/01/13, 11:49 AM
 
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I feel Fodder is a good setup for people that want to raise animals, but lack the acerage and/or equipment to grow pasture grass. I do agree that if you got a pasture, it would be best to go that way. Also If you can not free range your chickens, then fodder is a good way to give them some greens. I made this automatic set-up for cheap and it works good, but I wish it was 5 times as big---LOL. I get around 20lb of fodder a day with only minutes a day put into it. I now have this setup outside with some tin over the top. I collect the water and use it in the garden when we do not get much rain.

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