Swine on pasture

Discussion in 'Pigs' started by Rob30, Mar 14, 2005.

  1. Rob30

    Rob30 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have a pregnant pig about 500lbs, and 2 60 lb piglets. I am keeping them in pens but want to let them out on pasture. Any suggestions on how they will manage? Should I wait until the sow has her litter? What should I feed them and how much? I an currently feeding about 7 lbs of chop to the sow and 7 lbs of chop to the piglets. Plus some whole wheat baking goods from a local bakery. I will be pasturing on 1 acre poddocks devided by electric fences following some goats, sheep, and cattle. I want to keep them coming in to the barn at night because the bears are coming out at this time of year.
    Any suggestions will help.
    Rob
    Northern Ontario
     
  2. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    hogs comingle easily and other than a boar sometimes doing bodily damage to pigs there should not be a problem. You are aware that the animals will root the pasture to where it will appear a bomb detonated? I would start conditioning the hogs that I was about to feed them then they will come when you want to put them in the barn. Call, rattle a can with rocks in it, beat on a barrel, blow a horn, etc. then feed them. In a few days they will associate the noise with chow time. They will come running. As for feeding you have two situations that need different answers. The two pigs need continously available feed in a creep feeder that the sow cannot enter. These young pigs are able to convert feed to meat efficiently and this is the cheapest time of their life to get them to grow. The sow can manage on 3 to 5 lbs of feed a day until she has the pigs. At that time you need to feed her 5 lbs for her plus an additional lb for each pig she is feeding. You will want to start creep feeding her pigs as soon as they start being curious. Watch her condition and if she starts gaining or losing adjust the feed accordingly.
     

  3. Rob30

    Rob30 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You allow free choice to the young pigs? Doesn't this get costly? Will they stop eating when they are full or become gluttens? I have read that the sow should get 3-5 lbs of food daily, but I feed 3.5-4 lbs in the morning plus half a loaf of whole wheat bread. Then I do it again at 5-6 pm. By this time she is banging down her door for food. I am going through a 40kg (88lb) bag of chop every 6 days. The young one get fed the same amount as the sow for the 2 of them.
    Why is my sow so hungry? By the sounds of it I am feeding 2-3 times what she needs.
     
  4. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Are they ringed?? you might want to over seed the pasture for the hogs.
     
  5. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Small pigs are very efficient at feed conversion, maybe 1 lb of gain for 2 lbs of feed. This is cheap gain at the early stages. A sow is like an obsese person, they will eat until they are too large. You want to limit the sow to where she is not overweight if you are going to raise some pigs. Being too heavy complicates farrowing and the sow will have a greater tendency to lay on pigs. She will not be as agile as a thin sow and in my opinion the thinner sows seems to have more piglets. Therefore, the sow needs just maintenance feed. Realize that as a sow, her food conversion rate is somewhere near 4+ lbs of feed for 1 lb of gain. You can adjust the sows feed to where it is low in protein and add some filler(hay) if you think she is too hungry. Once she pigs, you have to feed her enough for her and the pigs. Commercial operations feed the sow all she can eat, however she will get access to feed only every third day! I think what you are doing is more humane.
    PS, check this hijacked site and look at the sow in the lower right. She is in top condition IMO
    http://hollygraphicart.com/misc/20040917pigletparade/
     
  6. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Staff Member Supporter

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    That sow was kept only on pasture. No significant amount of commercial feed - less than 50 lbs in her entire life at the time the photo was taken in September 2004 about a week after she farrowed. She and her sisters had almost entirely hay all winter and then pasture all spring, summer and fall. A tiny amount of bread a day (1 lb?) for training purposes and garden gleanings in season (weeds).

    By the end of her nursing period (2 months) the piglets were good and big but the sows were pretty nursed down. I weaned the piglets by putting them into a garden corral. Within a few weeks the sows were back up to condition.

    Here is a current photo of one of the sisters and their boy friend:
    http://sugarmtnfarm.com/pigs/sowsaddleplusboarfeb2005.jpg
    This is actually the sister (Saddle Pig) of the one in the previously mentioned photo (Big Pig).

    On the topic of pigs turning the pasture into bomb craters, we've not had a problem of that with our Yorkshires. They have lived their entire lives out on pasture for the warm seasons and garden corrals for the worst of the winter. When I put them out to pasture in the spring they do do a little turning up of the soil but it is quickly smoothed back by the chickens and I use the opportunity to seed the pastures a little. Just before farrowing they are also apt to dig a little but again not much and not a problem. They only dig down about three inches or so.

    On the flip side, if I want them to till up an area, I confine them to that spot with some temporary electric fencing like poultry netting and in a week they'll turn it up right good. Then I move them and plant crops. Works great. Fertilized to boot.

    Cheers,

    -Walter
    in Vermont
     
  7. Rob30

    Rob30 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Well I have beem letting them out in the evenings. After I let in the goats and calves. They seem to get along well. I even let the young ones out with the calves and goats today. They were pretty playful which the calves and goats didn''t care for. The grumpy old doe gave them a but, but backed off after the pig retaliated, they got along great after that. One calf gave a light kick when the pigs started bugging them. By 3-4 pm everybody was getting along and sharing some hay.