how well do pigs forage?

Discussion in 'Pigs' started by okiemom, Apr 14, 2004.

  1. okiemom

    okiemom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,292
    Joined:
    May 12, 2002
    Location:
    N.E. OK
    Do domestic pigs forage well? We will have a 5 wire fence w/ 3 hot wires (low to the ground for goats) and I was wondering if pigs can forage acorns, nuts, and other plants plus scraps and grain and do well or do they need mainly store bought feed.

    The pigs would not be in the same fenced area as the goats at the same time. I like the idea of pastured pigs but have not found much info. We live on a hilly slope and are slowly thinning the trees and briers etc. to grow more grass on the terraced areas. Any one else let their pigs free range? What else should I be considering?
     
  2. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    5,067
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2004
    Location:
    deep south texas
    pigs will and can forage they eat just about anything, they get fat on mast (nuts and such off trees) they root also unless ringed and a hot wire won't mean alot to a hungry pig.some supplamental feeding would not hurt. after all our domestic pig returns to the wild easily.
     

  3. bearkiller

    bearkiller Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    252
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    Location:
    Northern California
    Okiemom,

    Pigs are quite adept a foraging up their own dinner. Out here in "my" valley, the original homesteaders in the 1880's would feed the pigs only a short time after weaning, then turn them loose to fend for themselves. Usually they fed something once a day to keep the pigs closer to home and "tame" enough to catch. They do well for themselves, but their rooting can be problematic. And since they will eat anything, that can be problematic.

    You can put the rooting to use if you have problems with stumps that must be removed. Simply use a digging bar to make deep holes near to the stumps, then fill the holes with corn. The pigs will burrow to China to get at every last kernel of grain. Your electric fences can work well to contain the pigs if you train them to it. Low wire height depends on size of pigs. Higher as they grow. Check with a electric fence supplier for details.

    If they can get to your chickens or your garden they will not be shy about eating them too. Acorns they will snarf up so fast you'll barely know there ever were acorns on the ground. The biggest problem with acorns is they produce a soft fat which many people don't much like. Bear in mind that the soft fat is higher in omega 3 fats essential in human nutrition so there is an upside too. Most people feed corn for the last 4 to 6 weeks before slaughter to harden up the fat (which reduces the omega 3 fats and increases the omega 6 fats which we do not need because they are so abundant in our diet. The ideal ratio should be 1/1 while most of us get 1/20-30.) But "oily" pork may not be completely agreeable either.

    In the old country where my dad was born, the family pigpen was built around an ancient mulberry tree. I think the pigs listened to hear a mulberry hit the ground because there NEVER was any evidence of them. Helped the flavor, too. Amazingly, my dad left the old country in 1927 and when we visited in 1984 that same tree was still there and still supporting its latest crop of pigs. The old family homestead has found renewed life since the wars in the Balkans have begun, too

    You might also consider growing a corn crop intended for the pigs. Once it is mature, simply turn the pigs into the field and let them harvest the crop. Actually, a mixed crop of corn, beans, and squash or pumpkin works well giving them more variety.

    I also like to grow root crops for them. I plant mangle and sugar beets, Lutz beets, carrots, and any other seeds I happen to have. I prefer to harvest these crops myself, store in the root cellar, and hand feed to the pigs. The big beets need to be chopped...I use an axe. I also feed chopped beets soaked in water...so sweet the pigs will be all over each other to get to it. No reason you could not pasture the pigs in with the roots, except they will be a bit more wasteful in the early abundance.

    They will need a salt block and additional protein which I provide by planting the beans and by giving them alfalfa hay and goat's milk or whey.

    Pigs can do very well without store bought grain. In fact I consider that to be the least desireable feed. Remember the old stories and songs from yesteryear that the man who buys the pigs and grows the corn, does well; the man who grows the pigs and buys the corn does well; but the man who grows the pigs AND grows the corn gets rich, while the man who buys the pigs and buys the corn goes broke.

    Pigs are so easy to take care of and are quite forgiving of your foibles. Plus they offer a good way to turn waste into good food. They are such a pleasure to have around I cannot imagine why more folks do not raise them. Give them a good life and enjoy them while they are here and enjoy them even more when they are gone!

    bearkiller
     
  4. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    594
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    centeral Okla. S of I-40, E of I-35
    we are very new to pigs, having got our two just this year, they where penned for about a month then I took them for walks and returned them to the pen with food. Now they run loose all day and some nights. They will follow the chickens in distance from the house, but swing around to 'check in' several times a day, today they where off far enough to miss out on boiled eggs, the dogs cats and chickens had everything cleaned up pretty quick.

    I like haveing some kind of food on hand to lure them if needed, but they will follow me anywhere that I have tried to lure them so far just by voice, and even follow on long walks with the goats for browze [I am going to try getting them to walk up into my pickup, but haven't taken the time to build a ramp or steps yet]

    They have rooted up several places, it looks like a tiller was used, and I put it to good use in the chicken pens, where the soil was getting sour from the droppings, it is now well mixed, fresh and dark with no odor, they prefer moist areas so far, the hard dry places hold little interest.

    The rooting in places I need to walk is a little bit of a hassle especially in the dark, but the only thing I really have to watch out with from mine is to not get bitten, they will fight with the dogs some and have scraped teeth on both of us, and bitten shoes. So I stomp my feet and sound off when I know they are near and have had to kick them in the head a few times. I really believe I could break every bone in my foot and ankle before I could hurt one of them, and mine are 1/2 potbelly!

    bearkiller I want to thank you for the feeding ideas! I am expecting two high quality piggys to be ready for sale this fall.