Pastured pigs for profit

Discussion in 'Pigs' started by Rob30, Nov 17, 2006.

  1. Rob30

    Rob30 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Is anyone raising pigs on pasture for profit?
    I am thinking of expanding our herd. But I have never finished extra pigs. I only finish what my family and extended family eats.
    I am thinking of rotating small pastures monthly allowing the pigs to turn the fields well so it can be re-planted. Allowing group housing with a creep of some sort for the piglets.
    Are predetors a problem?
     
  2. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    That's something we are aspireing to but haven't fully gotten to where we want to be yet. Here at HT I think Highlands is the only one that does this on a large scale. There is a pastured pig group at yahoo that would be worth checking out. The organization ATTRA (http://attra.ncat.org/) has lots of articles to research the subject. Also the publication GRAZE (www.grazeonline.com) has a regular column written by Jim Van Der Pol. He grazes and direct markets pork from his farm in MN. I like reading his articles. Hope this helps.

    Heather
     

  3. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Supporter

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    We have a herd of 30 sows plus boars. Our total herd including growers and all is about 100 pigs. Pastured pigs are our main farming product. We sell the piglets as well as finished pigs direct to consumers. People are very interested in higher quality, naturally raised, free range, healthy meat for their families. See my blog at http://SugarMtnFarm.com/blog and look in the right sidebar for the Favorite Articles for discussion of how we do things.

    Where are you located? We're in northern central Vermont where it is fairly cold. Pigs are hardy and do well just about anywhere. The big thing is providing them with shelter from the wind/rain (in winter), plenty of hay in the winter, shade in the summer

    You can raise them just on pasture with no other feed, I've done it for three groups, but they will grow slower (7 months or so to slaughter vs 6). If you add other feed they grow faster. We feed excess milk, organic goats milk whey and cheese trim. The dairy makes the meat and fat of the pigs taste sweeter - delicious! We also grow a small amount of crops like pumpkins for the pigs to eat in the late fall when the pastures are used up. In the winter we feed hay. A full size sow or boar eats about 800 lbs of hay over the winter.

    As to predators, we have lots but we also have large livestock guardian / herd dogs. They eat predators, literally. I would not try and farmstead without dogs. They are our partners, protecting the livestock, terminating pests, alerting us to strangers, cleaning up after slaughter and sharing in the harvest.

    Check out http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PasturedPigs/ for a excellent discussion list about pastured pigs. Greg Gunthorp who does it in a big way is on that list.
     
  4. Rob30

    Rob30 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Highlands I have read through your blog. I enjoyed it very much. I have even talked via email with you. I live in Northern Ontario. It gets pretty cold here. The pigs go in and out of the barn right now, but I want to isolate them in field to turn them under and spread manure. The area out side the barn looks like it is ready for a garden. I am trying to think up easy, moveable, cheap, and expandable shelters to get them out of the barn. I need the barn for the goats and horses. Also, I want to creap feed the piglets. Straw is pretty expensive here, bot alot of grain crops. Saw dust and shavings are plentiful though. I tend to mix the three.
    Thanks for the links I will look them up.
     
  5. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Supporter

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    Rob, I've heard of people using calf huts as well as quanta-set style huts made of culvert type pipe. Also a-frames of plywood. I made an experimental ferrocement pig hut that was big enough to sleep three sows and could be moved with a tractor bucket loader. We have also used 60 gallon plastic barrels as houses for piglets and growers. Lastly, a round hay bale works. They dig into it and eat the hay as well. I've wondered about staking a umbrella of sorts through the middle and into the ground to keep the rain off. A thought...