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I have located a property in southern Missouri with 40 acres of woods and was trying to think what I could do with it. I was thinking about raising some pigs on the land. I have read that they do well in the woods. I would have to fence them in with electric wire, and rotate their area around the property. Any thoughts or experiences with doing such a thing. I also open to any other ideas with what to do with the land. I would like to have about half acre of garden space as well. The property also has a chicken house, so I could raise chickens as well.
 

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I'd cut and sell my dead wood for cordwood. Obviously heat your house/cook/ etc with wood. Keep a good acre for garden and keep the chickens. I don't know about hogs so I wouldn't get into it. Do you have some brush? Might raise a few goats.
 

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Any oak, inoculate cordwood and grow mushrooms, Any creeks, build a pond or 3,. Any meadows, there is always some grass and weeds, browse, I would have goats, sheep, pigs and a cow or 2. Cut wood to let more light in if needed for more....James
 

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Hey Eagle Eye,
The property has a 1000 sq ft cabin with a woodstove. I will definitely be using some of the wood for heating and cooking. I thought about goats and heard of their ability to clear brush, but I have also heard that they can kill trees as well, and I don t really want that.
 

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Goats would be the best. Hogs will kill just as many sprouts and ruin the soil.

I always raised Goats they will keep Sprouts down, if you are thinning Trees for your Firewood after awhile could have grass for Calf and or Cow.

40 acres should be able to raise 40 Head of Breeders and then their Kids.

big rockpile
 

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Goats will strip and kill trees IF that is all they have to eat, otherwise they just grab a bite here and there as they walk around. Best to have a place to keep them separate after they have eaten most of the available browse, or better yet just have a few goats so they never get close to running out....James
 

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Most people do not realize how unproductive standing timber land is for animals of all types. If your trees are in at the age of where you can do a select cut then I'd select cut it. Cut away a few of those 100 year old hardwoods and the place will turn into nothing but green thick nasty stuff in a few years - critters of all sorts love this stuff.

Once you select cut then give it say 3-5 years then you go in an remove all the "crooked" saplings growing and leave the nice trees (that will be either marketable in 50 years or have some value to you) as your kids may be able to sell them off at some point or you can transplant them to an area around the house if you want.

When it comes to using some for firewood I suggest ringing the tree with a chainsaw enough to kill it and let it stand for a year or more. You will then have aged dry firewood that is still standing, all you gotta do is finish the cut and your wood will already be dry and seasoned and ready to burn. ringing a tree and letting it stand/die keeps your wood dry and pretty much ready to use when you want to.

If you have a significant amount of maples (although you are pretty far south when it comes to having good maple syrup weather) I'd tap the trees. As homesteaders there is nothing like being able to provide something sweet that is natural. I know we use real maple syrup and real honey to sweeten a lot of things that we'd use sugar for in the past.

If it's wildlife you want to attract then keep your white oak trees. The mast (acorns) from White oaks are the favorite of deer. There is not much you can do personally with acorns from any tree, about all I have heard of is the native Americans use to boil them down, grind and make a bread out of them.

You could also purchase you a small portable sawmill and use some of your own timber for your lumber. 40 acres is a lot if it is all in timber and has any age to it.

Just some ideas.

TO ADD:

if your timber is not ready to be marketed then I'd clean out the "trash" trees around the good trees. There is a constant battle going on for resources (sun and water) among trees. Timber is just like a garden....lots of weeds (pulp wood) mixed in with the stuff you really want to grow.
 

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I thought pigs were much more damaging to woods than goats. Am I wrong?

Definitely take out the trash/junk/crooked trees, select cut any trees of a good size, like Oldhat said, and plant desirable species (and protect them from critters).

If it was me, I would be planting lots of nut trees.

Oh, and seed with a good nitrogen fixing plant such as clover where there is enough light.

You definitely want to divide the land into grazing paddocks and do rotational grazing.

I second the mushroom idea.
 

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I thought pigs were much more damaging to woods than goats. Am I wrong?
Goats want to browse, not graze. They will strip the leaves and bark off all trees [killing the trees]. With goats you can wrap trees with hardware cloth to protect them.

Pigs want to root. They will graze, then they dig and pull up the roots. They will dig up the roots of trees and rip them out of the ground.



... You definitely want to divide the land into grazing paddocks and do rotational grazing.

I second the mushroom idea.
I rotate pigs in different parts of our woods.
 

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I would check to see if there's marketable timber. A sawmill in the area should be able to provide you contact info for a logging company or your area Forestry division can. We have several people in our family that have had their properties logged. Along with making money, they got roads cut on their properties. The loggers did leave a mess though since they weren't clear cutting so there was downed branches and stumps left behind. They turned a lot of it into firewood.

When we've clean out our small patch of woods, my husband downed the trees and offered free firewood to anyone that wanted to come cut it themselves. No clean up for us!
 

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I bought my wooded land for hunting..

As far as clearing it out for "good" plants that animals like to come in, around here if you try that, you're going to end up with a hillside full of Autumn Olive... It's a big problem in this area. Very invasive.. Be sure you don't end up having something take over like that if you start clearing out trees..

I plan to cut and use some of my trees to build art/furniture we plan to sell.. Just gotta get a shop built first... and that means filling in the old pond first. It's almost full, just need a dozer here to top it off..

Enjoy your woods and all the critters is attracts..
 

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We use animal power for land and timber clearing. Here's the skinny:

Yes, goats will eat trees, but only if their nutritional needs are not met. Otherwise, they mostly eat the leaves and very small saplings or branches (less than an inch). Be sure they have free-choice mineral and aren't left in an area too long, and they won't destroy any of the good timber nor will they debark. During the growing season, we give our goats roughly 200 sq. ft. per goat per day, and then double or even triple that in a drought or fall season. During the growing season, we move them once or twice a week, dependent on the growth, space provided, forage available, or amount of clearing I want done. During the drought or late season, we give them a bigger area with less fragile vegetation (i.e. no saplings I want to keep), and then supplement with hay. You'll get an eye for it pretty quickly, and adjust as necessary. One thing you'll find with any rotational grazing is that there is never a set rule. It changes constantly with the season, the growth rate, the available forage, the number of animals, the effect you desire, etc. Only experience will teach you. FTR, any goat will work. Most folks use meat goats or a cross bred "scrub" goat for this purpose. We actually use our dairy Alpines, so they are multipurpose, and I milk them as well. The only danger is if they have a larger udder, they may get a few scrapes on briars if I am not careful. It's something to consider. I either cut out the briars, or avoid that area during their peak production season.

As far as pigs, yes they do also do great. We raise the heritage red wattle pig, and they do awesome in the woods! Smaller piglets can be used (we have put them out as early as 9 weeks). You would just need something like a portable hot net fence, whereas the larger pigs could get away with a single wire. Like the goats, the pigs will eat what they need to fulfill their nutritional needs. The less area you give a hog, the faster and more effective their work. Of course, this also means the more damage they can cause. If we want a little clearing and what we call "massaging" of the land, then I leave them just long enough to create a visible disturbance of the soil. If I need an area truly cleared, such as an area I am converting into a parking an storage area, then I leave them much longer so that they really root, churn, and then pack the soil, decimate the weeds and honeysuckle, eat most of the roots, and turn the area into an almost concrete layer. It's awesome!

Here's a picture of how it works on our farm: We have honeysuckle, saplings, russian olive, lots of dead wood, and lots and lots of briars! When we moved in, our woodlands were so thick you could not walk through them during the growing season. Our pigs and goats generally work together, just in separate pens, one following the other (safest parasite-wise if pigs follow goats). The goats generally clear all leaves, weeds, and small, soft branches from about 6 ft. and down. When it is relatively clear and they seem less satisfied and content, we move them on. Then the pigs move in. The pigs chew on branches from their back-height and down. The longer we leave them, the more rooting and root-eating they do. The first year, we only supplemented minimally (like a pail of leftovers a day for 2 pigs), which left them hungry and sped the work along. Of course, they were very lean at harvest, but certainly not thin. They will find food, and work harder when hungry. This year, we gave them free-choice feed along with their browse. They didn't work as hard and had way more back fat, but weren't as destructive to the land either.

As far as fencing, we use the temporary electric net fencing all the time around here! Every animal we have has used it at some point. It is awful to install in the woods, and you will make your life much easier if you whack a little trail for the fence first, but suffer through a day of work, and you will sleep better at night knowing your animals won't escape. Single electric lines on step-in posts are much simpler to install, but have risks. The animals need to be trained to them in a secure pen first. Then, goats will be more respectful if you have 3 lines, rotating hot-ground-hot. That usually keeps all but the most stubborn in. The pigs may need 2 in the beginning if they are smaller or less respectful, but once they are over about 100 lbs, one at nose height will suffice.

Hope this helps. I will try to attach some before and after photos later if you are interested. This can totally be done, and the animals are fun and provide food in addition. We love it!
 

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Oh, I wanted to add, that typically, the animals will avoid toxic plants, assuming you don't force them into a state of hunger. This does require some regular checks on the paddocks to see how the forage is doing. If you notice one particular item being left behind, assume it is not safe or palatable at all, and remove it by hand later. We recently did that with a pile of choke-cherry the goats left. They ate everything else, but left the choke-cherry.
 

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For me, I would selectively cut and manage for deer hunting. Nothing like venison! Also enjoy the hunting.
 

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In the end it has to do with the size of the trees and the quality of the underlying soils.
Tell us about your trees and dirt........Some of our favorite subjects around here!
 

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My suggestion always is to get a herbalist or person familiar with native species to look at the land first. If it hasn't been logged within the recent past (up to 80 years) you may have more income potential from herbs like ginseng depending on how the land lies. Putting livestock on it will destroy that potential.
 

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Putting up electric fence for hogs is a waste of time and money. AND In S Mo, The wild hogs wont be effected near as much by it as the tame ones. Specially the boars who see the tame sows.
Putting up electric fence in woods is a waste of time and money and is crazy, as ANY branch or sapling that falls on the wire will short it out. IF you fence an acre in hard full woods, and something don't fall on the wire at least once a week, and likely more, id be amazed.
 
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