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Alright so I raised two commercial breed pigs over the summer and now that they reside in my freezer. I have taken on the 4 more that I will be picking up in 2 weeks 3 are large blacks and one is a large black/tamworth cross. Anyway I have done my research extensively on these breeds and picked them of their excellent foraging abilities as they will be pastured pigs. My fence is all set up and they are acquainted with electric (unlike the last ones I had) I have read that providing them hay through the winter and supplementing with grain is the way to go but I guess that I'm skeptical on this. Mostly because my last pigs couldn't survive with out grain. Is this true? Also how much hay will I need? I just ordered 20 bales of second crop and plan on getting more but I want to know I just don't want to get them and them to turn up their noses at the hay :hair
 

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Grass hay is not sufficient. A legume hay/silage or legume and grass hay/silage will go a long way in providing most of the nutrition for the winter. Minerals are also very important especially in the winter. Some additional protein is helpful...dairy works well. Also, some sort of high energy feed is especially necessary if they will be wintered in a cold climate. You haven't filled out your location, so I can't tell if that applies to you.
 

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Good choices but do be aware that the line with in the breed is very important and learning is important. That is to say getting pigs from parents that were born and raised on pasture will be likely to be better than random pigs of the same breed. Breed is not as uniform as one might think.

Our pastures are a mix of soft grasses, legumes, brassicas, millets, chicory, etc. Our hay is primarily soft grasses. Winter growth is slower because they're getting dry hay rather than fresh pasture and it takes energy to stay warm in the cold weather so not as much energy is available for growth. We supplement with dairy, about 7% of their diet at max. Unfortunately typically we only get a quarter of that. Look around for what you can grow to supplement with and I would suggest easing into pasture feed rather than abrupt transitions. You have to adjust their habits, digestion and possibly genetics as well as your management skills.

Do get your soil tested so you know if it is complete or not. Iron and selenium are two biggies. Kelp is a good source. There are bagged pig minerals. Do not feed goat, sheep, cow or horse minerals as those are very high in salt which can kill pigs.

Do read the sticky threads, especially the pasture one, at the top of the forum.

Please fill in your location information which makes it easier to answer questions. At the very least your zone. See this thread:

http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/livestock-forums/pigs/505485-please-fill-location-info.html

Cheers,

-Walter
 

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the Tamworth boar I have is a great forager, better then a LBH sow I have.

The Tamworth boar spent it's life in a 10x10 enclosure fed 1 gallon of pea pellets a day. He looked terrible with skin conditions rubbing on any post or surface he could find trying to scratch the itch away. I've treated him and changed the feed to a higher quality feed with open pasture and he's looking great. Grew his hair back out looking to be a great boar. I almost didn't get him he looked so bad with skin conditions, but the conformation and temperament was excellent so I picked him up. He's looong bodied and I wanted some bacon. Now I'm pleased he's showing excellent foraging habits.



I hope Hoary alyssum is ok for them, they seem to really like it and that's good news for the horse hay buyers.
 

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Being in Maine, they will need some good nutrition to get them through the cold. I don't believe hay is enough for their diet. I use it for bedding all winter, but they eat a lot of it, so I keep adding more. 20 bales might be enough to bed them, but it would be close. I only bed a small porta-hut, so I'm only bedding enough footprint for them to sleep in. I would get more than 20 bales. You can always sell it in the spring if you keep it dry.
 

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Those breeds will do more rooting and munching on hay than most commercial pigs. What most people think of as pasture, isn't adequate for pigs, pig pasture is more like an untended garden.
Raising pigs in cold weather and getting them to grow, too, takes lots of easily digested protein, not found in most hay. I'd plan on feeding hog feed (corn, soy bean and a shot of vitamins and minerals) and use the hay as humans use salads and vegetables.
 

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"Hay" is a broad reaching term and can mean many different things to many different people. There is hay, even grass hay, that can come close to grain in terms of nutrition. The thing to look at is the TDN on your hay, which you should test so you know what you are dealing with. Sometimes grain isn't all that it's numbers suggest, when it comes to digestibility, and utilization of nutrients.

"Pasture" is another of those broad reaching terms that has infinite meanings. I have "pasture" that will make hogs shun hog pellets at times. Worlds of difference in rotational grazed mixed grass and legume, intermingled with hardwoods and fruit trees, and a small lot with some fescue and briars. Wish someone would hurry up with the GMO American Chestnuts, then I could show you some pasture!
 

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When someone says a bumble bee can’t fly and I observe a bumble bee fly by I think to myself, “they need a better theory.”
Walter, what portion of your pigs' diet is hay in the winter? I know you feed whey through the winter and stockpile mangels and such. How much of the stockpiled stuff do you feed in addition to hay?
 

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About 90% of our pigs's diet is pasture/hay, sometimes as low as 80% in any particular week if we get apples or spent barley but over all it is on the higher end of that. See http://SugarMtnFarm.com/pigs for more details on diet and follow the feed links.

Whey makes up a maximum of about 7% but for the last couple of years we have not gotten as much as we could use. Currently we could use two to four times what we get. We've grown but our supplier hasn't.

The mangels, beets, turnips, pumpkins and such are really fall stuff. We don't store them but rather turn the animals into those growing areas for them to self-harvest in batches as the fields wane. I would love to grow a lot more but we lack in cultivatable land. Most of our land its stumpy, stoney, steep, thin, sandy soils.

-Walter
 

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"Hay" is a broad reaching term and can mean many different things to many different people. There is hay, even grass hay, that can come close to grain in terms of nutrition. The thing to look at is the TDN on your hay, which you should test so you know what you are dealing with. Sometimes grain isn't all that it's numbers suggest, when it comes to digestibility, and utilization of nutrients.

"Pasture" is another of those broad reaching terms that has infinite meanings. I have "pasture" that will make hogs shun hog pellets at times. Worlds of difference in rotational grazed mixed grass and legume, intermingled with hardwoods and fruit trees, and a small lot with some fescue and briars. Wish someone would hurry up with the GMO American Chestnuts, then I could show you some pasture!
There's no need to wait for GMO American Chestnut projects. There are many hybrids that are 15/16 American Chestnut and 1/16 Chinese available, or seedlings from older trees in the last areas that have been proven to be resistant to blight over the years.
 

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I know, but I want roundup ready, BT, American Chestnuts spliced with Kudzu genes. We still have a few of the old ones, they usually fruit a couple of times before the blight chokes them down and then they sprout again. The wonderful thing about chestnuts is that they bloom so late. Acorns get killed by frost some years, but not chestnuts.
 
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