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So I did read the sticky about rotational grazing. However, I do have a question about what would be the best thing to grow for our application. We're not really sure how many we will have up there by next year when the paddocks are ready, but at the moment, we have 3 sows and a boar in the two acre lot. I was planning on separating this two acres into 4, or maybe 5, paddocks.

Long story short, I need to find out what I can plant that will grow in the shade, as this is a wooded lot. We live in zone 6. Also, the lot is on a slight hillside.

I've attached a basic schematic of how the lot is laid out. There will be a common ground at the bottom there where they can access shelter, water, and supplemental feed if necessary. I figure it will be easy to move them from lot to lot this way, as I can simply close and open whichever lots I want to, when they come down for a treat or whatnot.

Thanks for any advice or help.
 

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Four is the minimum with about a one week grazing interval.I would make the common area much smaller and put it in the middle as well as doubling the number of paddocks. This would create a nine-square or tick-tac-toe board layout.

More paddocks will result in better grazing patterns and forage regrowth accompanied by less soil compaction and better parasite life cycle breaking.

Smaller paddocks will result in more complete grazing and less weeds left due to cherry picking.

A smaller common area will let you make it all wallow + deep bed pack + feeders and waterers. Contrary to expectations this actually works very well long term. I think it is because the parasites can't go through their complete life cycle in the small area with wallow and composting bedding pack - this is observation, no proofed.

I would also thin the trees to the point where enough light is getting to the ground for forages to grow. We have paddocks that have a nice overstory of trees or brush with lush grasses, clovers, chicory, brassicas and other things growing on the ground. Growth is slightly slower for the forages with less light energy available but that just means you cut the stocking rate a little.

Sloped ground is good - drainage helps prevent bogging.

Cheers,

-Walter
 

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Hey thanks for the advice. I like that idea. Perhaps the schematic below would be a better way to do it then. I could scale down that common area a bit more as you suggested.

As far as thinning it out, the hogs have thinned out just about everything that isn't a foot wide ;) So there is some sunlight that gets through. They've also done a good job of tilling it all up.

So I should be ok growing some of those grasses, clover, etc in the wooded area, but it just may not grow as fast? Also is there anything I could or should seed in the fall, or should I wait until spring?

I appreciate your input. You seem to have a plethora of knowledge.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
If I use an octagon as the common area in the center, I could have eight paddocks instead of six, which is what I may end up doing.
 

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I like to seed winter rye (cereal rye) in the fall. The pigs eat it like candy and comes up very early in the spring. It is also very inexpensive. Once you put them on it in the spring, overseed it with rape and clover or trefoil and let them trample it in. After a day or two rotate them out of that paddock and repeat in other paddocks.
 
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If you did a tic tac toe pattern as Highlands suggests you'll have 8 paddocks and a much easier fencing job.
 
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Yes, looks great. That is exactly what I would suggest. The only other improvement might be to have a narrow lane from commons to the edge for you to walk, for sorting and loading, etc. We have a tractor road for this which lets us deliver hay, move pigs out to the sorting and loading area, for their trip to the butcher, etc.

I too worried about the commons problem however my experience is that it is not an issue. I think that the parasites don't build up in the commons because in our case it consists of their wallow, mud, feeder, composting bedding pack and these are not things the parasites are able to go through their larval stage. In any case, the proof is in the pudding. We do managed rotation with commons areas on each of the herd rotation loops and don't have a parasite problem.

-Walter
 

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here's my guess on why parasites are not a problem in the common area / dry lot when combined with rational grazing. Many parasites are spread when the eggs are pooped out of the livestock. The eggs hatch and the larvae feed on soil fungi and grasses. The larvae generally are on the lower portion of plants because they are not highly mobile. Rotational grazing which strives to leave uneaten the bottom half to 2/3rds of forbs and grasses means that fewer parasites are eaten. The parasites need the livestock host for a part of their life cycle, so few parasites eaten, mean fewer parasites reproduce and populations decline.

On the dry lot, where all plant life gets eliminated sooner or later, the habitat to incubate, host, and feed the next life cycle of parasites is not there. Eating in a well run dry lot is from feeders of one sort or another that should remain relatively manure and parasite free, further interrupting the parasite life cycle.

Which is of course not to say that confining your animals to a knee deep lake of mud, manure, and urine is healthier than a green grass field. Muck is a host for a whole raft of different bugs. It is only that the parasites that need the pasture in their life cycle that don't find dry lots hospitable.
 

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So I did read the sticky about rotational grazing. However, I do have a question about what would be the best thing to grow for our application. We're not really sure how many we will have up there by next year when the paddocks are ready, but at the moment, we have 3 sows and a boar in the two acre lot. I was planning on separating this two acres into 4, or maybe 5, paddocks.

Long story short, I need to find out what I can plant that will grow in the shade, as this is a wooded lot. We live in zone 6. Also, the lot is on a slight hillside.

I've attached a basic schematic of how the lot is laid out. There will be a common ground at the bottom there where they can access shelter, water, and supplemental feed if necessary. I figure it will be easy to move them from lot to lot this way, as I can simply close and open whichever lots I want to, when they come down for a treat or whatnot.

Thanks for any advice or help.
I like your layout. Easy to get to without crossing other areas. Add to later also easy. I like lots of room in this area.

Alfalfa and Rape, very high in protein. 30% and 28%.
Ladino clover,Sweet Clover,Lespedeza,Orchardgrass,Tall Fescue,Bromegrass,Rye.

Mixture of grasses-legume for total yield.

Sudan grass,Sorgnum-Sudan crossesl,field Peas.

Check with your local feed and seed outlets to see what is available and when to plant. Your local Ag. office also can be of help.
See what grows best and when to plant in your area.
 

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Your local extension may or may not be helpful. If they come from a CAFO mindset, you may get laughed at or told all the reasons pastured pork is a poor choice. I've had mixed results when speaking with extension, like being told Florida is too hot for apples when I found an apple nursery that supplies productive commercial orchards in Uganda and Nicaragua. OTOH, I've also run into extension folk who were extremely open to trying something a little different and were very supportive.

Pastured pork is not mainstream. Confinement, corn and soy are mainstream. It works for those with a commercial mindset. But the homesteader with access to diverse pastures and alternative feeds will more likely end up with happier pigs, better land, fatter wallet, and tastier pork chops.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well, with the tic tac toe layout, I was wondering how I could get the outer corners access to the common ground. I used ms paint to do that drawing (which didn't have an octagon), but if I use an octagon instead of a hexagon for the center, I can have eight paddocks around the common area. We use braided electric rope so fencing isn't too big of an issue. I'll most likely have good solid posts around the center and drive metal stakes for the lines going to the outside.

Highlands, I thought about the access too. We actually have a gate in the lower left of the lot, so I thinking of making a walkway from there, in between the two adjacent paddocks, to the center.

I appreciate the feedback.
 

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with the tic tac toe system, put one, maybe two gates on each side of the center square and use step in posts and your electric rope by the gates to direct the pigs to the left or right as you choose. I think you would find it necessary to move only a few step in posts to change paddocks.

I haven't done it with pigs but I have with horses and a single strand of rope. The critters are in a hurry to get to the good chow in the fresh paddocks, so they are not interested in challenging the rope.
 

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Our setup is topographically a tic-tac-toe but you wouldn't recognize that looking at it because we have to adapt it to the reality of our mountain terrain. Life is. The result is there are some long meandering lanes that give access out to farther fields. It works and the pigs don't mind walking long distances. The furthest they walk is a mile or so, if you were to make it a straight line, but pigs don't tend to walk in straight lines. :)

Most of our gates are simply wires and step in posts. Works for trained pigs. I don't worry much about piglets. Weaners go to the training paddocks to learn the system.

-Walter
 
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