Pig tractor???

Discussion in 'Pigs' started by Dreams30, Feb 15, 2005.

  1. Dreams30

    Dreams30 Lady Rider

    Messages:
    820
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2003
    Location:
    SW Ark
    Along the same lines of "chicken tractors"...has anyone built one of these and how did you build it? Did it work?
     
  2. Shazza

    Shazza Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,538
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2004
    Location:
    Victoria Australia
    LOL...OK pardon my ignorance, what's a chicken tractor and a pig tractor, please. :D
     

  3. pjd

    pjd Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    90
    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2004
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    I think it was this forum I read about a pig tractor in the garden. They used hog panels with 4x4 in the corners where they met and then steel posts on the 16' sides with the ends being cut, so the pen was 8x16. They moved it about the garden letting the pigs root it up. They say it is better to let them root a small area at a time than the whole garden. Another person who did this said to train the pigs to come to rocks rattling in a coffee can so that when they got out you could get them back. We are currently training our gilt to come to the can of rocks for an egg. She has caught on quick and will leave her dinner and run 60 feet just to get that egg! We are going to build the above tractor and use the rock can to move her from the pen to the garden. This will also give her pen a rest. An animal tractor is a moveable pen. So the animals are pasture raised without being loose in the pasture. I am currently building rabbit tractors and will put the chickens I intend to eat in tractors also. I am looking forward to those posting who have actually used pig tractors and how they built them. I am a little nervous about putting Suky in the tractor, she is a pet and I would not want to lose her. Oh and someone said they laid 2x6's on the ground and this helped with rooting out. If I can find it, I will repost with the link.

    Phyllis
     
  4. Pat

    Pat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    542
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2004
    Location:
    Arkansas
    I built the one I think pjd is referring to. It is 4 feet wide (not 8) as my garden rows are 4 feet wide. They till 6 to 8 inches (and sometimes deeper), and throw any rocks I missed (as well as eating all the weed roots and seeds). I did have one escape once, (they will root along the combination panels too) so I laid used 1 by 6's outside the 16 feet sides. I haven't had another escape since (more than 2 months now).

    It's a hoot to see them when they know we are ready to move them. I use baling twine to tie the combination panels to the 4 steel posts and they know when I start to untie them we are fixing to move them. Now that they are bigger, we move them about once a week. When they were smaller it was about every 2 weeks (so they would work the plot over well).

    We do have a large plastic dog house in there for them also. I put hay in the there (so they can burrow into the hay on the cold nights, and they eat some of the hay too.

    This is the 2nd year for our garden, the only thing I would have changed is I wish I would have used them for the first year. They do a super job getting rid of the weeds (and grass that has worked back into my wide rows). I couldn't do it for the first one, as I was still working (worked 28 days out of the country, spent 3 days total commuting and was home for 25 days) and it definitely takes 2 of us to move it. If it was light enough for one person to move, they would move it also). As well as fertilizing it for us.

    I do plan on raising 2 more the same way next fall. We do supplement feed them with corn chops, hog ration and some sweet feed twice a day. And I change the water for them at least once a day (twice if they have rooted dirt into it or if they have drank it dry). We do plan on moving them to a already built hog pen in probably a month or so (they should be finished with the garden by then) then finish them off there before we butcher (probably in April or May).

    Pat

    Pat
     
  5. pjd

    pjd Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    90
    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2004
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Oh thank you for posting, you are the one I read! My memory really stinks for details. I am printing your post out so I can keep it for reference when I build mine. Suky will love it! She has all the rocks dug out of her pen which is 60 ft across the front and about 50 ft deep but the sides are crooked as we went tree to tree. We are going to use the rocks to build a rock wall around her pen.

    Thanks again Pat for your posts!

    Phyllis
     
  6. Pat

    Pat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    542
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2004
    Location:
    Arkansas
    I was (and am) very glad to respond to this. It's something that really worked out for us. If you (Phylis) or anyone else has questions that they would like answered, pm me and I'll respond, or I'll respond in a thread for others to read also. I don't remember if I read the original idea in Countryside, MotherEarth News or the old Farmstead magazine (nor did it include the 1 by 6's on the outside), nor when (but I'm sure it was a while ago).

    I had originally had responded to a thread about front or rear tined garden tillers in Gardening & Plant Propagation forum. I still prefer the 4 legged tillers! They don't chop the weeds up and give 10 pieces to regrow from instead of the original one piece. Plus the added plus of free fertilizer already incorporated into the rows.

    We're looking forward to the meat this summer also!
     
  7. tbishop

    tbishop Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    672
    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I personally am hoping to hear about the rabbit tractors. Maybe you can post about them in the rabbit forum? It's something I"m considering now that I'm raising meat rabbits.

    Tim
     
  8. Dreams30

    Dreams30 Lady Rider

    Messages:
    820
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2003
    Location:
    SW Ark
    Whoa, back that tractor up!! I am trying to get a very clear idea of how to make one which will be sturdy enough for the hogs and yet still movable.


    Pat, you said that yours was 4 feet wide, I didn't see where you say how long it is or how many hogs you had/have in each one...

    Please, also tell me what materials you made it from...

    At this point I am tired of digging up the cattails and taking them to the hogs and I think it would be real nice if they could dig their own treat!
     
  9. Pat

    Pat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    542
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2004
    Location:
    Arkansas
    I used 16 feet combination panels (could also use hog panels). I have 4 by 4 posts in the corners (cut off so they are about 4 feet high and just rest on the ground), and 2 steel post (I used the ones you'd use for a barbed wire fence) per side on the 2 long sides. I cut one combination panel to make the 2 4 feet long ends. I just use a pry bar (up North they used them for breaking ice on things also) to put the posts into the ground. I used plastic cable ties to attach the posts to the corners of the pen... the plastic wasn't strong enough we when were moving it (several broke), so I reinforced it with some baling wire at the bottom, and baling twine at the top. I used "fresh" baling twine to tie the sides to the steel posts. (seems like I replace it about every other move - I use half hitches every other row on the combination panel for the twine, and bent the baling wire over itself every time around the corner posts also. That way if they break one, the whole thing doesn't just come apart. Because the posts are only in the ground 1 - 2 weeks, it's fairly easy to "wiggle" them free enough to pull them out each time. (and we've had a nice moist fall / winter also.)

    I wanted to be able to break it down easily to store it for the late spring, summer and fall while it's not in use in the garden (why the twine, cable ties and baling wire instead of doing a "good" job of putting it together. The one that escaped rooted under the side (again, why we just lay some old 1 by 6's on the round outside of the long sides). Even when we broke a cable tie (moving) the corner did not come apart. I just felt after we had broken several that it didn't provide enough strength to keep it together (the cable ties were rated for 100 pounds). They never have broke any of the cable ties, nor the baling twine.

    We bought 2 piglets in early November. One of them now is over a hundred pounds now, the other is probably in the 80 pound range (I suspect they were from different litters, and one was younger than the other). Originally the bigger was about 30 pounds, the littler one was just a little less than 25 pounds.

    As I said earlier, we've been real pleased with this experiment, and are already planning on doing it again this fall (even though normally I don't like to buy young animals in the fall). Actually, I think it's probably had the best results of all our experiments, and with only the one minor problem. Usually my experiments take more adjustments to finally get it going the way I think it's supposed to work (if it ever does, as I've some total failures too.)

    Pat
     
  10. dla

    dla Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    356
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2004
    Location:
    Damascus, Maryland
    This is a great idea, and very informative!

    Tho' I will admit I was hoping to hear Uncle Will jump in with some jokes about pigs driving tractors! :D
     
  11. pjd

    pjd Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    90
    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2004
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    We built it today! We used hog panels. We made it 8 x16 since Sukey is used to a large area. We put 4x4 in the corners with 2" staples and then wired them around. On one corner the staples are not driven in all the way so we can slide the cut edge of the panel in and out giving us a way of opening it. We used 4 T posts to secure it. The first place we put her was virgin ground to see how she would do in the hardest spots.

    There are four of us so we took it to her pen and put her in it and then walked her pen and all to the garden. if you look at the rizomes rooted up in the second picture this was all done in less than ten minutes. We figure we will have to move her twice per week. After the pictures were taken my husband put barn tin across the top and on the sides of one end to provide a shelter. We are going to get her a nipple waterer in a 5 gallon bucket to sit on the outside of the pen.

    Thank you very much Pat, not only will my garden get tilled but Sukey's pen will get to rest. I am going to plant something in it so when she goes back she will have fresh greens. I am going to build a second one for my 3 piglets that I will be getting in April.

    I have never posted pictures so here goes.......
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v508/PJD/Sukey2.jpg
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v508/PJD/Picture001.jpg

    Now for those rabbit and chicken tractors!!!!
     
  12. Pat

    Pat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    542
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2004
    Location:
    Arkansas
    Thats great! Our pigs are smaller, and I like the wide row concept in gardening (why the 4 instead of 8), and I think the 4 feet wide is easier for 2 people to move. (But up said there was 4 of you.) Being smaller I was able to use a large plastic dog house for ours. Putting the tin on for cover is a great idea also. Nice thing about yours and mine is mostly it's from things that we already had. All I had to buy was the hog panels.

    I would suggest laying some 1 by 6's on the outside of it though. If not, she could escape under it.

    Congradulations! I'm very happy it worked out for you, I'm sure you'll be surprised how good she tills also. (I think they are happier in the moving pen also.)

    Pat
     
  13. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

    Messages:
    7,380
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2003
    Location:
    east ont canada
    we raised pigs this way for years. made out of heavy duty hog panels and a cover over them .would move it weekly with the loader tracter . had tried a lighter version but chased pigs way to much! even ringed they would dig under and flip the panels. friend used lite flexinet lsat year with a heavy duty charger with great sucsess.sure beats shoveling! we used this method on a barren hill side that today grows great grass!
     
  14. rwood

    rwood Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    88
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2005
    Location:
    NSW Australia
    PJD, thats unreal.

    Thanks for the photo's. I can only visualise these things poorly, so its great to see the pic's.

    Did you burn the grass first?

    With that size pig, and that size pen, how long before you move the pen?

    Looks like she will have that soil ripped over in a few days.....

    Thanks again
    Raphael from Australia
     
  15. pjd

    pjd Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    90
    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2004
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    We did burn it first to shorten the grass and encourage her to eat the roots. We thought we would be moving it twice per week but we are moving every morning! She piles all the crab grass roots in a pile and eats the rest. There are holes in her pen about knee deep in one day!

    My husband says he has never been able to till this deep before! All rocks are lifted, all rizomes are removed, Sukey is incredible!

    I will always use this method for adding new ground to my garden. Although I won't have to burn it next year.

    I had doubts about keeping a gilt as a pet but she is earning her keep as a tractor. I have a large pen on the ridge that is completely shaded and I will put her there when it gets hot and then next fall move her back.

    I cannot thank Pat enough for the idea and directions!

    Phyllis
     
  16. gccrook

    gccrook Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    998
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2003
    Location:
    SC Kansas
    Pigs are the greatest rototillers around. I have hard horrible clay, and they did a great job. I threw old hay bales in after they finished the grass, and they tilled those in for me. It is not necessarry to burn the grass. They will first eat the grass, then they will continue to rototill untill they are gone. I am putting my pigs this year in the same spot as last year, so they can do more work before I turn it into a garden this fall. Next year they will begin preparing another area. I will probably rotate them around every 3 or 4 years. Great job guys.
     
  17. pjd

    pjd Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    90
    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2004
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Our normal gardening routine is to let the grass grow in the fall and then burn it off in February. We also do this in our two pastures because we have not had any grazing animals on them. I saw Pat's post and then did the tractor, it wasn't planned. I went ahead and burned it off because I didn't think she would be able to root in knee high grass quick enough to get the garden done in time for planting, I was wrong. She is doing a 8 x 16 everyday.

    She piles all the crab grass roots in a pile, has anyone else's pig did that? We just pick up the pile and pitch it in her old pen each day. I am hoping some will root so that in May when she goes back it will have new grass for her.
     
  18. luvrulz

    luvrulz Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    3,232
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2005
    Location:
    Kentucky
    My hubby saw this idea in an old issue of Mother Earth News and our pigs have done an excellent job of clearing our (permanently) fenced garden area! We're getting ready to put together a tractor for them to get to clear out some of the underbrush in our wooded areas next!

    Great descriptions and ideas and thanks too for the photos! Makes it much easier to visualize!
     
  19. QueenB04

    QueenB04 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    362
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2005
    Location:
    Virginia
    Hey everyone,

    Love this idea! We recently began talking about putting the pigs out in the garden, should be getting to steady thawed ground by next month, and now is a good time to put them in the garden. I saw the pics on here and that gave me a better idea of how to make one, really like the 3 fence panels cut down to 8'X16'. I saw someone used to baling twine to tie the fence to the posts. I wasn't sure if using t-posts with fence clips would work? I would also like to put my pigs in the woods and this would help with fitting around brush/trees. Plus when we're not using it to dissesmble and store. Anyone used this? I'd use the twine I'm just afraid it wouldn't always hold.
     
  20. Pat

    Pat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    542
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2004
    Location:
    Arkansas
    I use the twine (check every time we move them too). I also put a couple of half hitches as we are tieing (working our way from bottom to the top). They've never broke one yet, nor have I had one break while in use... I have blown it and not replaced and broke a couple retieing them. I do think the clips would work also (just didn't have any "spare" just laying around). Besides I want to be able to break it down, it's easier for me to tie and untie everytime we move them. (we use the t posts to reinforce the sides.)

    Pat