Pigs & Gardens

Discussion in 'Pigs' started by Trisha-MN, Oct 10, 2005.

  1. Trisha-MN

    Trisha-MN www.BilriteFarms.com

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    Anyone run their pigs thought garden after the season is done? Looks like we have a week or so extension but after then frost is any time. The garden is already fenced somewhat to keep the chickens out. Will it work to run the pigs though after we're done with the harvest (pulling out the pepper/eggplant & tomato plants - any other things to make sure we remove?).

    Thanks,

    Trisha-MN
     
  2. RedneckPete

    RedneckPete Well-Known Member

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    I run my pigs in the garden in the spring. I move all the manure from the chicken coop to the garden, add the pigs and let them do their magic. They get about three weeks in there before the last chance of frost comes and they get moved to the pasture. They till the garden like crazy, make the manure disappear and push all the rocks and sticks to the edge by the electric fence.

    By the time we put the garden to bed, however, the pigs were already put to bed, thus no fall cleanup.

    Pete
     

  3. Trisha-MN

    Trisha-MN www.BilriteFarms.com

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    Wow - sounds like a great way to go. I fogot about electric. I'll bet that is a good way to reinforce our current welded wire fence. Thanks Pete.
     
  4. luvrulz

    luvrulz Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Why are you pulling out the nightshade veggies? Hmmmm.......they can't eat those plants/roots??

    We let the pigs in our garden in the spring to ready it for planting but am not sure we'll put them in this fall. They're much bigger and not as easy to control. It's a good distance and they always get lose.....

    :1pig:
     
  5. .netDude

    .netDude Well-Known Member

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    Had 5 75-85lb'ers in an 8x16 hog panel pig tractor all last week. On the two weekends I moved them 4 -6 times / day; during the week, once in the morning, once at night. I used 4 t-posts (1 each side) and didn't have any escapes. They absolutely loved it, and I was able to cut their feed ration in half. They really 'dug' the tomato and pepper plants?!?(even the hot peppers!) Is there a reason to remove them?
    Maybe next year I'll fence the whole thing and keep them in longer, was really just an experiment this year. Worked out really well.
     
  6. Trisha-MN

    Trisha-MN www.BilriteFarms.com

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    I had thought that the pepper, eggplant and tomato plants were toxic or at least not very good for animals to eat.... that is why I removed them. They're always on the bad plant lists for pets. Anyone know for sure?
     
  7. Paul O

    Paul O Well-Known Member

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    Pete,
    I recently went to a lecture given by our state veterinarian and I had asked about running hogs and chickens on the same ground. He said that the chickens could pass a disease to the pigs. Don't remember what the disease was but the vector was from the chicken droppings to the earthworms then to the pigs.
    BTW - I also asked about turkeys and chickens and his reponse was a more emphatic "Don't do it". Apparently the chickens can pass blackhead to the turkeys.
    I am planning on free ranging my chickens next year but I may keep the pigs and chickens on different patches of ground. With all the talk about avian flu etc. I guess I'll err on the conservative side.
    Paul
     
  8. highlands

    highlands Well-Known Member

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    We winter our pigs, sheep and chickens in the gardens. In the spring I entice the pigs to dig by sticking some corn in the ground. Two days later move them out so the soil stays unpacked. Then I move in the chickens to smooth and weed the soil for a week or so. Then I move them out and plant immediately. No weeds, great gardens even though we started with poor mountain soil (1/8th inch top soil and acidic at that).
     
  9. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    Highlands,

    Do you till your garden or otherwise cultivate it after the pigs and chickens are rotated through?

    Has your garden ever been double-dug?

    Basically I'm interested in learning how well this method gets the soil ready for planting and how much compaction you notice.
     
  10. highlands

    highlands Well-Known Member

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    No, I don't use a tiller at all. Nor do I hand till nor has our garden ever been double dug or machine tilled. It would be too much work and the pigs and chickens have already done the job. It is important to remove them in a timely manner after they do their work or they will compact the soil.

    We live on the side of a mountain. There is about 1/8th inch of top soil. Below that is a few inches to a couple of feet of subsoil. It is very acidic, low in organic material (like almost zero), rocky (high in minerals though!) and not very fertile. Blueberries, raspberries, maples and pine grow well. What I have been doing is cutting terraces across the hill side. They are typically about 30' wide and sometimes a couple of hundred feet long. I move some soil downhill to fill and cut into the hill as far as I can.

    At this stage not much will grow on the resulting leveled subsoil cut. Then I fence the area and put the animals on it for the winter giving them plenty of hay. The next summer it is able to handle some plantings. I plant lots of deep rooted plants like radishes and other things that will help make the soil better. In the fall the animals go into clean it up. Then they go back out until we get ground frost. Then the animals go back in and fertilize the soil for the winter. In the spring they dig it up and I move them to another spot where they dig up. Chickens follow pigs. When the fields are ready I move the animals back out to pasture and plant the gardens.

    By the second summer the gardens are quite good. By the third they have spectacular soil.

    Because the animals dig it up and then kill of all the weeds I don't have to weed all summer. I pull a few weeds here and there but nothing much so it is virtually weed free.

    One funny side benefit is if you feed the pigs tomatoes then you'll have the most increadible crop of volunteer tomatoes the next year... This morning we just finished harvesting crates and crates of tomatoes from one of garden/corrals. The especially interesting thing is that the tomatoes the pigs ate were commercial hybrid types. So the tomatoes I got this year were F2 and they are wonderful. When saving seeds I normally avoid hybrids so I was surprised at how good these F2's are. It will be interesting to see what comes up there next year (F3's).
     
  11. RedneckPete

    RedneckPete Well-Known Member

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    I don’t really buy all that stuff. People have been running pigs, chickens cows and sheep together for thousands of years.

    The problems you hear about are the result of factory farming. They start to talk about vectors, disease transfer and the rest, but really they are saying that when you feed thousands of pigs the offal of millions of chicken that you could create a problem.

    I’m not about to worry about twenty chickens and two pigs.

    Pete
     
  12. Paul O

    Paul O Well-Known Member

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    Pete,
    I hear ya. If the animals are not sick to begin with, they probably won't be passing things around. Another thing is if you are only raising the animals for one season, it is probably less of an issue.
    I just thought I'd pass along what the vet said, particularly regarding the chicken/turkey issue. I'm still undecided. I've got plenty of room but I also like the idea of different animals doing their individual thing.
    Paul
     
  13. Charleen

    Charleen www.HarperHillFarm.com Supporter

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    We're just not set up to have pigs run through the gardens. We have 5 separate gardens that total about 2 acres. Our pigs are fenced outside with cattle panels and a hot wire. Tarped hoop house for shelter. Very happy pigs.
    We've noticed corn bore where we have the field corn this year, so next spring we're moving the pig pen to where the corn is. Let them root it up and eat all the grubs and bores they can find.