Feed just hay?

Discussion in 'Pigs' started by ThePigeonKid, Jun 2, 2012.

  1. ThePigeonKid

    ThePigeonKid Well-Known Member

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  2. gerold

    gerold Well-Known Member Supporter

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  3. Lazy J

    Lazy J Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Simple answer is: No, you can't feed just hay and a cattle mineral block.
     
  4. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Staff Member Supporter

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    Don't use that mineral block. Wrong mix of minerals. Danger of salt poisoning. Make sure they always have plenty of fresh water. Two waterers are better than one.

    I have fed just pasture/hay several times. They grow a bit slower, about 2 months longer to get to market weight, and are much leaner with little marbling and minimal back fat. Pasture/hay tends to be rather low in lysine, a limiting amino acid. This slows down growth and muscle building in particular. The low calories of pasture means very lean meat.

    For faster growth add dairy which also is great because it gives a sweet flavor to the pork. Pasture/hay+dairy gets us to market size in about six months. There are many other things you can add too such as veggies, fruit, spent barley from brewing beer, bread (high calories, don't do too much). Watch the condition of the animals and adjust.

    Note that this all does depend somewhat on the pig genetics. Some pigs don't digest pasture/hay as well as others and learning to eat pasture/hay is a process. If you just dump factory farm cull feeder pigs on pasture or hay they likely won't fare well. Best to get feeders from someone who is raising them on pasture for generations so you start with a leg up on the genetics.

    We raise pigs on pasture and don't buy commercial feeds. For more reading of how we do it see:

    Pigs | Sugar Mountain Farm

    Feeding | Sugar Mountain Farm

    site:sugarmtnfarm.com managed rotational grazing - Google Search

    Cheers,

    -Walter Jeffries
    Sugar Mountain Farm
    Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
    in the mountains of Vermont
    Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
    ButcherShop | Sugar Mountain Farm
     
  5. livinzoo

    livinzoo HeritageSpotsAndFeathers

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    I agree you will need to give some supplemental nutrition. And pasture with more protein is better than all fescue or bermuda. You will need to figure out what is best in your area.
     
  6. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Staff Member Supporter

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    That's a very good point. There is pasture and then there is pasture. Our fields are filled with a lot more than just grass. There are many other forages including brush such as aspen, berry plants, roots, clover, rape, kale, nuts, apples, etc depending on the season.
     
  7. gerold

    gerold Well-Known Member Supporter

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  8. bruceki

    bruceki Well-Known Member

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    I don't think it's possible to raise a standard farm pig on pasture alone. The single guy who claims to have done it aside, there are hundreds of people here who raise pigs, and NONE of them are doing it with a full-sized pig on pasture alone now.

    And that includes the guy who claims to have done it
    ; he's not using pasture alone. I offered him $10,000.00 to raise 4 pigs on pasture alone, per his specs, and he declined.

    Every pig producer here, every single one, provides nutrition in addition to pasture access. No exceptions. We would all love to have no feed costs.

    You can raise your own feed for your own animals; figure a couple of acres of planted crops per pig, for instance. That means corn, and soybeans (or field peas, or chick peas, or whatever high protein legume grows in your area) -- that's what a bag of feed is. Someone else s field planted with crops to feed your pig, and you'll have to do what the feed mills do to make it a complete ration; roast the soybeans, grind it all up and then add trace elements and proteins to allow the better utilization of the food.

    If you could raise a pig with no inputs, we would all be doing that. No one is doing that now.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2015
  9. idigbeets

    idigbeets Well-Known Member

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    Walter,

    I'm confused. You tell the person not to use that mineral block, and that you've raised pigs on pasture and hay only. Then go on to say if you want better/faster growth to add vegetables,fruits, and dairy to their diet.

    I have NEVER known a farmer in my 20 years of farming to feed pigs grass/legumes as their only feed ration. Can you detail your amounts of hay (types too) per pig, and how much acreage you've used and what was growing on it? A good friend of mine raises 85 Tamworth, on pasture, and supplemented w/ hog rations, vegetables, fruits, vegetables etc... and still has slow growth (relative to all ration fed).

    Thanks.
     
  10. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Staff Member Supporter

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    Bruce, I can and have raised pigs solely on pasture repeadedly. Just because I can do it doesn't mean I do it all the time. Nor does it mean I have any interest in playing your silly $10K challenge. I have a farm to run. I don't play games like that. I use the resources I have. The fact is I use additional feeds like dairy because I can get them for free and they increase the growth rate, marbling and give a delicious flavor. If a good food is available that produces the desired results then it makes sense to use it. If I didn't have access to the free feeds I would just use pasture, as I've done at times, or I would setup my own dairy herd so I would have dairy - better than milking for human consumption. There is also the confusion of pasture vs grass. Pasture is not just grass. There are clovers, nuts, fruit and many other forages on pasture. Your pastures are probably different than mine. Each of my pastures is different.

    iDigBeets, You've now met a farmer, me, who has used just pasture as a feed ration, repeatedly. As I noted, it takes a couple of extra months for them to reach market weight. The advice about the mineral block was that it was incomplete minerals and the salt is a problem. We have about 300 pigs on pasture and use no hog ration - For details about how we do things, see my blog. Way too much information to give all in one discussion list reply here.

    It is puzzling that some people insist something is impossible just because they haven't done it or don't know how to do it yet when presented with someone who has done it they continue to claim it is impossible. It is like how people used to insist that man could never travel faster than 60 mph, 100 mph, the speed of sound or said that it was impossible that a bumblebee can fly. Yet the evidence is right there that it happens.

    Pasture works for me. I've done it pure pasture and with various additional feeds. I've reported about what works for us. Perhaps for you it doesn't work but that merely means you're doing it differently, you don't have the right hogs, right pasture, right conditions, who knows what. Something is different. It also doesn't mean you have to do my way, heaven forbid. That's the nice thing about a semi-free country we live in - you can do it your way. Just stop bashing someone for doing things differently.

    I have no vested interest in you doing things my way. I'm not selling you anything. You are free to doubt. You are free to do things differently. But please be polite.

    Cheers,

    -Walter Jeffries
    Sugar Mountain Farm
    Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
    in the mountains of Vermont
    Sugar Mountain Farm | All Natural Pastured Pigs, Poultry, Sheep, Dogs and Kids in the mountains of Vermont
     
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  11. ThePigeonKid

    ThePigeonKid Well-Known Member

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    @highlands, Thanks! I had heard of someone doing it but couldn't remember who or where. But now I remember it was you. Thanks for the links! I am going to continue to study before I get my pigs. Do you mind if I pm you if I have any further questions? Thanks again for all your help! TPK
     
  12. Allen W

    Allen W Well-Known Member

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    Your going to have to have the right kind of pasture to make it work.

    The trace mineral block you asked about is simply a salt block with trace minerals, none of the main minerals in it. Hogs can't tolerate salt like cows do, they also chew instead of licking as a cow does.
     
  13. gerold

    gerold Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If you have pasture plant it in differ types of grass and grain crops. I plant wheat,oat,rye,rape and a mix of grasses. My sows and pigs feed in the pasture and also in the woods in the early morning hours before i feed them. They spend about 6 hours a day feeding on pasture and woods. This really cuts down on my feed bill. I feed them in the morning and also late afternoon. This way i can check on them in the morning and at night. They also love diff. leaves. I have a saw mill and when i cut down oak, maple, or any hardwood tree when i trim the limbs off the pigs are right there to eat all the fresh leaves.
     
  14. bruceki

    bruceki Well-Known Member

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    There isn't anyone on this forum who raises full-sized pigs that isn't offering them feed in addition to pasture access.

    Walter, with all due respect, you feed tons of dairy (cheese, cottage cheese, butter, etc) and thousands of gallons of whey to your pigs.

    And in fact, that makes you just like every single other person here who's raising full-sized pigs. There is no one who is raising them on pasture alone. No one.

    You can make the claim all you want. It's up the the reader to figure out who they find most believable: A guy who claims to have done it in the past, but doesn't do it now, and will not do it even when offered $10,000...

    or everyone else. EVERYONE else. Thousands of people.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2015
  15. idigbeets

    idigbeets Well-Known Member

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    Walter,

    The OP asked about JUST HAY. You are feeding dairy, nuts, fruits, legumes, grass, etc etc. Let's not mislead someone who asked a very straight forward answer.

    OP - just hay will not work.
     
  16. gerold

    gerold Well-Known Member Supporter

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  17. Karen in Alabam

    Karen in Alabam Well-Known Member

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    I have a mineral salt lick out for the cows. I started letting the pigs into the pasture and noticed one day they were messing with the salt.

    I have loose salt that I add to the cow feed, the block is just there in case they need more.
     
  18. Rogo

    Rogo Well-Known Member

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    All my livestock roam free on the acreage. No pasture here in the desert.

    Years ago when I put out trace mineral salt blocks, the only critters that used them were those that needed it. The pigs never went near them.

    When I started feeding DE, none of the critters used the salt blocks. The 28 trace minerals in DE has evidently satisfied them all these years so I haven't bought any more blocks for a lot of years.

    I don't know what this bruceki's problem is, but he's sure been annoying for a long time.
     
  19. haypoint

    haypoint Well-Known Member Supporter

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    There are about a dozen "hot button" issues on HT. Pasture raised hogs is one of them. Grass fed beef is another. When people promote either of these management styles, they often leave out critical information that is important to their case. I never hear anyone that is raising beef on grass offer up the fact that virtually all beef is grass raised for most of their lives. It is in the final days that most cattle get a grain ration added to their diet.

    In this case a person new to pigs has made a reasonable assumption about pasture raised pigs feeding on hay.
    After a quick caution on the dangers of salt, the person that promotes pasture raised pork jumps in with the claim that he's done it a few times. Rather than explain that the pigs will not be healthy, will be stunted and that the lean pork produced will be tough and dry, he rephrases it to be simply slower growing and lean.
    Then he repeats that he grows pigs on pasture and no commercial feed. To most that sonds like the pigs live on grass. That would be false.

    I think Briseski is fed up with the misleading information and lies by ommission that the pastured hog guy is famous for. But most of us have heard it all before and take it with a grain of mineral salt.

    To get back on topic, simply NO, pigs are not able to digest hay like cows do. Some breeds of pigs do more grazing and hay eating than other breeds, but pigs can no more survive on hay than a human can. Bruceski was filling in the blanks that the so called Pasture Raised Pork is actually gulping down great amounts of cheese plant waste and any other thing that will add calories to their diet.
     
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  20. idigbeets

    idigbeets Well-Known Member

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    ^^ From that link

    We custom mix our own pig feed.

    The Primary ingredients are

    ground Corn, Oats & Alfalfa hay

    ^^ They are "on" pasture, it is not their sole source of nutrition.