Questions about raising pigs on pasture

Discussion in 'Pigs' started by QTee, Sep 1, 2004.

  1. QTee

    QTee I love country living!

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    I have some unused grassy/weedy pasture I'd like to get cleared off for planting and was thinking about raising a couple of pigs on it until they reach butchering size. I have raised small livestock and horses for years but know nothing about raising pigs. First and foremost would 2 pigs raised on 1-2 acre pastures create alot of odor as we do have neighbors near-by to consider. I plan to use 2-3 strands of hot-wire to contain them but do they respect hot-wire or will they try to escape? How much food do they require on top of the pasture and what can they be fed besides commercial hog feed when it come to grains such as corn or oats? Do they like or benefit from alfalfa hay? What kind of feed makes the best meat? Do they get sick easy if well cared for? Which are the best breeds for good temperament and over all hardiness? I would like to get some heritage breeds if I can find some reasonably priced (since they will be used for meat not breeding) in Michigan but if I can't I will go with the most common breeds.
    Any advise most appreciated
     
  2. sancraft

    sancraft Well-Known Member

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    I haven't had pigs yet, but will when we get to our new place. From what I've read, pigs will clear off and plow up a spot better than anything.
     

  3. Lolli Pop

    Lolli Pop Member

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    Hi! Pigs will certainly clear the land! I call mine my little roto tillers! :D I really don't think electric wire will keep them in. Maybe someone else has more experience with that. Two pigs on that much land won't cause an odor. They're like anything else, if you don't pick up the poop and turn the land over where the are going...it's gonna stink. Nice thing about pigs (unlike a dog) is they will pick a potty area and keep it all there. Makes it for easy clean up. My main word of caution for pasture pigs is to not get a pink pig or a light colored pig. Pigs with access to weeds can eat a toxic weed that will cause them to develop an allergy to the sun. Sometimes they can get over it, most times not. It effects the lighter skin pigs the worst. I had to put my little Blue Butt down because of it. It ultimately causes liver failure and they will die a slow painful death. I would look for a Duroc or a Duroc Cross. It's a red pig that grows quickly. Really sweet natured! As far as food, I'm not real sure about that. I slop mine. Two restaurants save their leftovers for me. I have four pigs and they eat a five gallon bucket for breakfast and a five gallon bucket for dinner. I did give them the medicated bagged feed for the first two months or so. It's important (I think) to make sure the younger pigs get the bagged feed because it has all the daily requirments in it along with a medicine that prevents twisted snout. A lot of people are against slopping, but this is a high quality slop from high dollar restaurants...they're all real healthy! Hope this helps. Lolli
     
  4. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The fence wil ork it it don't get shorted out. It is easy for stuff to grow up into low wires. Pigs without rings in their nose will root out some foot deep holes. In doing this they may sometimws cover the bottom wire with a pile of dirt. Two acres is a lot of ground for two pigs to make much of a showing in before winter. Unless you plan on making a pasture more than one year, putting up the fence, and keeping it working would hardly be worth it. With neighbors that close if your pigs get out into their lawns and gardens, the damage they could do will be great. Not a friendly neighbor type thing. In a pen that large the manure wouldn't raise much stink unless they get a mud hole made
    somewhere.
     
  5. Paul O

    Paul O Well-Known Member

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    I have some overgrown fields and would like to use pig power to clear them up. I have been looking at the different breeds and the Tamworth looks like the best pig-dozer there is. My main concern is keeping them in. They are described as the “most active” breed. To me, that sounds like frequent jail breaks and many late night round-ups. Has anyone had any experience with them?
     
  6. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If a bush hog type mower won't cut the stuff growing on your land, neither will pigs. Pigs will make it so rough that it will be hard to work it down to get somethng worth while growing there. If there is any native grass, they will do away with it by rooting it out looking for grubs in the roots. When they get done the trees will still be there with nasty chuck holes all over the place. If you want to make it a perminate hog pasture then put a good woven wire fence around it and let them do their thing.
     
  7. JAS

    JAS Well-Known Member

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    We have a eight wire high-tensile fence with the second, fifth and top wires hot. We moved our two pigs over to this area when they were about 50 lbs. They stay away from the fence fairly well be I have seen them "testing" it every once and awhile. They have never gotten out but they do push a lot of dirt onto the bottom wires. You do need to train them on the wire (they might bolt through the fence at first).

    I feed my pigs a mixture of corn, rolled oats, alfalfa, molassas and soybean meal due to that is what I have as a general mix for all the animals. I mix a pork suppliment in with this. I fed them a small amount at first to encourge them to dig up the lot. I also feed kitchen scapes and a lot from the garden (I planted extra for the pigs). The "Feeds and Feeding" book I have recommends alfalfa free choice even for pasture pigs. I like to add DE to the feed but we usually worm the pigs when they are young.

    Corn fed pigs are usually good eating. A friend of ours used slop only and the meat was very different (we got the pigs at the same time from the same place) kind-of grey compaired to our pink?.
     
  8. dla

    dla Well-Known Member

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    I remember reading that Texas penitentaries used to keep pigs and slop them with dinig hall leftovers, but that the Dept of Health shut it down. Are there diseases which can be passed to pigs from humans like that?
    I mean, our own table scraps are one thing, but from strangers, you'd be dealing with a wildcard there.
    Not that I know anything about it.
    I was just wondering.
     
  9. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It is illegal to sell hogs fed raw garbage in Indiana, and I'd be surprised if it wasn't against the law around the country.
    If they eat raw meat their meat will be red when they are slaughtered. It is apparent at the slaughter houses. If the garbage is cooked, it eliminates this, or if they are switched to grain based feed 6 weeks before slaughter their meat will be OK.
     
  10. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Staff Member Supporter

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    We have four sows with 26 piglets along with sheep and chickens on about nine acres of pasture. There is no odor at all. They stay very clean and healthy on pasture - it is totally different than penned or confined. My wife's aunt, who is a very opinionated woman, told us years ago, "but the whole place will stink if you get pigs!" It doesn't in the slightest. Part is that the animals are cleaner out on pasture, part is that the manure is widely spread and quickly broken up by the chickens and part is that pigs who eat pasture and hay just don't have the stinky poops like pigs who eat grain. We grain fed them when I was a kid in a small wooded half acre paddock and their poops stank. They also destroyed the soil in the paddock unlike pigs out on pasture.

    We use electric. I have used:
    1. white plastic electric twine my least favorite but good for temp fencing.
    2. 17 guage steel wire - good stuff but it is not a physical barrier.
    3. high tension wire - the best but more work - use for permanent fence.

    We have stone walls around all of our fields and the animals pretty much respect those and stay out of the woods. There is no wire over most of the walls. Along the stone walls in front along the road we have a single strand of electrified high tension wire.

    Why don't they go in the woods? Because there be lions, tigers and bears in theres. Also we have four LGDs who keep the stock in and move it around according to their own mysterious schedule. The dogs tend to bring the animals in in the evening and put the chickens into the hoop houses, sometimes before the birds thing it is time. :)

    None normally. The month before and after farrowing we give the sows some commercial (Blue Seal) sow feed but that is all. We do feed them garden gleanings, easier than composting, and a little waste bread from the bakery as a treat to train them to come when we call. It makes moving them about easy. Dogs help with moving them too and are good for protection.

    Yes. We feed hay in the winter. The pigs actually prefer what I would consider the yukkier hay. Given a bale of great hay and a moldering bale they dig into the moldering one first - I guess it is like cheese to them. They thrive on all the hay during the cold months. I have read that if you grain feed then you need to slowly transition over to hay and pasture to give their digestive system a chance to adjust - a couple of weeks. Since we always pasture and hay feed them we've never been through that.

    Don't know. Never had a sick pig. Or sheep. Or chicken. Or duck. Luck or pasture? We don't worm either - no need as the fecal tests are back negative. I wasted $50 on a bottle of wormer that is still in the fridge. Or maybe that was insurance. :) I've read that having them on pasture and moving about makes them not get the parasites as much and that having chickens follow lets the birds get the worms before they become a problem. Might be true.

    Everyone has their favorite breed I suppose. We have Yorkshires simply because they are common here abouts and I've read they are good mothers which proved true with our sows. The boar is also a gentleman. I would look around at what people in your area are keeping. They may also have piglets to get you started.

    Cheers,

    -Walter
    in Vermont
     
  11. QTee

    QTee I love country living!

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    Walter I thank you kindly for all those details. :)
    I made a copy for future reference,
     
  12. Mary Ann

    Mary Ann New Member

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    We visited Joel Salatin's farm in Virginia this summer and he does pasture raised pigs. He rotationally grazes them and uses 2 strands of electric wire (low fence) to contain them. He says pigs will train well to electric fence, they do it when they are young and use a lot of charge for the first encounter. That's about all it takes, they say, for the pig to respect the fence. They found that, unlike chickens, they cannot just lay the fence down uncharged and get the pigs go over it to get to the next section of the pasture. They found that they needed to use gates which the pigs recognized as being different from the electric fence.

    They aim for a specific number of pig pounds on the pasture before moving on to the next area. The smaller the pigs, the longer they spend on the pasture. They also have feeders for the pig feed. Don't know the specifics on what the feed includes, but from visiting other pastured pig operations, I think the pigs get about 60+% of their nutrition from the feed and the rest from rooting around.

    At Salatin's, the pastures were totally torn up by the time the pigs were moved (just looked like mud), but they rejuvenated well during the time the pigs were off the pasture. Too much time on the pasture before moving and the grasses won't come back, too little and undesireable plants will grow.

    At a farm in North Central Texas, they said that they had great success with native grasses returning to the land after pasturing pork on it. Seems that the work the pigs do stirs up dormant native grass seed and creates a suitable condition for their germination.

    Mary Ann
     
  13. Lily Orleans

    Lily Orleans Member

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    QTee,
    There is a great article in teh Oct/Nov 2003 issue of Hobby Farms on Tamworth pigs. They seem to be very hardy & it gives a lot of good info. I am also in Michiagn & would liek to get some pigs next SPring but I have not had any luck with locating a breeder (not sure that is the correct term for pigs :confused: ) in Michigan. So I you find someone let me know!