Raising pigs using fodder trees/crops as much as possible

Discussion in 'Breeding, Raising, Feeding and Caring for Animals' started by futurefarmer, Aug 8, 2012.

  1. futurefarmer

    futurefarmer Junior Member

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    I'm trying to figure out how it might be possible in Australia to raise pigs with a minimum of off-farm feed inputs. That is, I want to utilise fodder yielding trees and crops as much as possible, and cut down/eliminate the need to buy in grain.

    I’ve read Tree Crops by Russell Smith, so I’ve been inspired to look into this approach – but many of the plants he suggests like Honey Locust and Mesquite are considered invasive weeds in Australia, so I assume I can’t plant them.
    He also suggests Mulberries, Persimmons, and nuts like acorns, pecans and walnuts. Does anyone have any thoughts on these as fodder trees – and whether a combination of such plants might be able to form a large percentage of the pigs’ nutritional needs?

    Does anyone have any other suggestions?

    I know the answer depends largely on what part of Australia I am situated in, but if we could talk broadly about what can be grown generally in the temperate/NSW tableland to the subtropical coastal regions that would be great.

    I found this thread in the archives which talks more generally about livestock (not specifically pig) fodder in central QLD – maybe some of these ideas could be applied to pigs in the regions I mentioned?

    http://forums.permaculture.org.au/archive/index.php/t-6592.html?
     
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  2. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    It may depend on where you are and whether they are invasive in your area. A lot of useful plants are considered weeds but if you use them responsibly can be well managed.

    Are you considering making yourself a food forest in which the pigs could seasonally forage? Are you talking about large scale pig production? Or just some pigs for yourself? Are you thinking of an integrated permaculture system or is this basically a pig growing exercise?

    Have you considered using a rotation system with annuals such as beets and other root crops, with chickens to follow them?
     
  3. futurefarmer

    futurefarmer Junior Member

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    Thanks for your reply Grahame.

    Yes! I love the idea of a large food forest in which the pigs could seasonally forage. Does such a set up have the potential to provide most of a pigs dietary needs do you think? Or will they still need to be heavily supplemented with grain/something else?

    I have thought about annual crops as feed, but I suppose I wanted to see if a food forest approach might work first.

    I am thinking along the lines of small scale pig production...say around fifty pigs...
     
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  4. Greyfox

    Greyfox Junior Member

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    You have to decide exactly what you want to do with the pigs, example breed pigs and sell the piglets, breed then grow out the piglets for meat, buy in pigs to grow out.
    2nd what area and how much land have you or are looking at.
    3rd what climate area
    These will determine what and how much to grow.
    Rotational system is the best if you have enough land.
    fodder crops such as beets, corn, turnips,mangles, etc plus fruit trees should provide you with the majority of there feed requirements.
    but as I said above it is dependent on a number of issues.
     
  5. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    welcome future farmer
    youve just read THE best book in thec whole world
    where do you live>???
    acorns are the ultimate pig fodder check out the spanish dehesa system they sell prochetto for 60 euro.|\kg
     
  6. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    anyone got any piglets for sale????

    8)
     
  7. matto

    matto Junior Member

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  8. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    If you are thinking small scale production for selling then you will need to ensure their protein levels are up, lysine and methionine are the important ones other wise they will take longer to grow and therefore more expensive to sell. Sprouting grains will give you a boost, and alternate grains are higher than some for amino acids. Comfrey is another one to think of for supplements.

    Supplementing their diet, and their instinctual behaviour, will only help your venture and pannage through oaklands or chestnut groves such as the dehesa system, will finish them nicley. HAve a look at www.australianpigfarmers.com.au their books are great all round knowledge.
     
  9. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    i had some wessex saddldbacks years ago

    they went well
    jerusulem artichokes and roadkill are good supplaments:rofl:
     
  10. futurefarmer

    futurefarmer Junior Member

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    Breeding then growing out the pigs for meat is what I would like to be doing.

    Land size - having not acquired the land yet this is open to discussion. Once I figure out what sort of system I might have (tree crops versus sewn fields of beets etc...or both) this will be my next question. 50, 100, 200+ acres are all possibilities.

    Climate area - well, again this depends a bit on what would be best. If I can only grow the kind of feed I will need in certain areas, then that might be where I end up. I'm thinking NSW coastal or tableland areas, or southern QLD perhaps.


    I live in South East QLD at the moment.
    Yes I saw that the Spanish (or is it the Italians?) like to finish their pigs on acorns to fatten them up before the cure them. Do the oak trees we have in Aus yield acorns like they do overseas, does anyone know?


    Thanks matto. Any idea if my dream of doing all of this without any supplemental grain is achievable?
     
  11. martyn

    martyn Junior Member

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    I'd like to throw in a couple of points, as a free range pig farmer - firstly it's illegal to feed pigs road kill, you're in NSW, if the LHPA got even a whisper you were doing that you'd go a mile and probably never see your farm again. secondly - don't buy week old piglets, don't buy anything until they are at least 8 weeks old, you'll go broke feeding them. Thirdly, there is a model code of practice for pig farming now, and it is law and regulated by the RSPCA. The RSPCA can come onto your property without a warrant, at any time to inspect your pigs and ensure that you comply with the regulations - the one they will ping you for is not having a cert III in animal husbandry and 12 months experience on a pig farm (unless you have those?). The problem is too many people are keeping pigs poorly.

    As for feeding them fodder. I collect acorns for my pigs, but unless you have Oak tree's yiou'll be waiting awhile for them to grow. Chestnuts are by far the best solution and will grow most anywhere. Keeping large enough paddocks will also help, the guys down in Albury at the Eco School have a couple of my sows and a boar, they grow everything on grass - no feed. But they have room and a great pasture managment strategy to go with it.
     
  12. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Seriously? You can't keep a few pet pigs without qualifications???

    They let me breed children without asking to see a certificate!
     
  13. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    Thanks Martyn. I had heard something about being certified to have pigs. Is this just for commercial ventures?

    Do you think the Advanced Pig Farmers cert that the Lee McCrosker puts on the australianpigfarmers website is enough, or do you have to go right through the Cert III. Im guessing if you are taking pigs to slaughter houses to sell, or even selling at market, might be regulated?
     
  14. martyn

    martyn Junior Member

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    I don't know if anybody saw the story about the pig farm near Yass this week. No, technically you can't have pigs without the training. And the same rules will apply for sheep, cattle, goats and horses as time goes by. I'm not exactly sure about the course that Lee provides, I believe it gives you the Cert III qual but not the 12 months experience.

    These course's cover all the basics like nutirtion and accomodation but also things like disease identification and humane dispatch - I really can't recommend you do one highly enough if your going to get pigs. The most important issue is biosecurity, this is were things like not feeding road kill comes in and having a disease control plan in case of an emergency.

    To get pigs to market you have to have a PIC number in NSW. These are issued by the LHPA. Then you have to register for a pig pass from Australia Pork Limited (this applies Australia wide) you will not be allowed to unload your pigs at an abittour with out a pig pass.

    I've had pigs a while now, but I believe you have to prove you have been certified before they will give you either. All pigs need to be tattooed with your PIC before they are 6months old or 20kgs - which ever comes first.


    cheers

    Martyn
     
  15. futurefarmer

    futurefarmer Junior Member

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    Thanks Martyn, certainly some handy points there.

    Great stuff. Good to know oaks and chestnuts are workable options in Australia for a piggy food forest.

    So perhaps if you had a sizeable chunk of land planted with oak, chestnuts, and various fruit trees. How close to providing our porkers with the bulk of their feed requirements are we, would you say?
     
  16. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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  17. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    Exactly.

    Is this for real martyn? Or is it only if you want to send your pigs to the abattoir? Is it just in NSW? The problem with this is that like any legislation it just drives things underground - peeps will start/increasingly slaughter their own animals at home
     
  18. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    i didnt claim to be giving legal advice just ethical!
    i m really gunna have to get some hogs if they are illegal now
     
  19. martyn

    martyn Junior Member

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    You can raise pigs on fodder crops, however you have to be mindful of two things. Firstly, you need to be able to adjust the amount of protein in the feed as the pig gows. Young pigs once weaned at 8 weeks require at least 22% protein in their feed, once they have reached about 6 months they can be reduced back to 16%. Lactating sows require their normal ration plus approximately 600 grams extra per piglet. Boars and Salami Barrows will need about 2kg of feed twice a day. Secondly, once the temperature at nigh drops below 10 Degs pigs need extra energy in their feed, we’ve found they need at least 500 grams additional for every 5 degs below 10 degs top stop them from losing condition and continue to grow. Their housing will have an affect here also.

    Your best options for raising pigs on fodder crops are the following - Chestnuts, Hazel Nuts, Almonds, Walnuts and Acorns. Our pigs also like Carob and Honey Locut. Other trees that I’ve tried and work are Tagasaste, Willow and Poplar – they won’t live on these. They eat all fruit, but don’t really seem to like sweet citrus unless you cut it up. Apples are great because you can store them in sacks in a cool place they’ll last a good while. They love pineapple and Avocado as well.

    Crops you can grow apart from wheat and barley are peas, milo and sorgum, oates is good – but feed as hay. The pigs will eat entire maize plants, corn plants and sunflower heads. Pumkin and melons are also good and will store well. Plus they’ll eat the pumkin vine as well when it’s young. Our pigs are also partial to zucchini. Pasture won't finish a pig well, yo need something with a high fat content so you get nice bacon, lard ect.

    We’ve had problems getting them to eat Jeruselum Artichokes in the past which is unfortunate as they grow really well.
    Our system works by feeding the pigs grain over winter and augmenting that with acorns and other nuts I can scavenge from around the various parks and playing fields. We pick them apples from along the hiways in March/April and they feed from the garden over summer.

    We are currently putting in a series of swales to grow our nut trees on to take up more of the winter slack and cut back the on grain (we have approximately 80 pigs). Between the trees we’ll grow pumpkins, sunflowers, zuc’s and anything else we think off or that suits the growing season. The pigs will be in a rotational grazing system and we’ll use pasture in summer and brassica’s in winter. We are also planning on building the swales so they will be able to be extended across the property.
    We take the growers off at 12 weeks and put them in portable yards. The yards are 6m x 12 m and we have 6 – 8 pigs per yard, depending on size.

    We move the yards as soon as they have dug up the patch well enough that we can plant a cover crop – usually clover and lucerne. We place the yards along the contour to avoid starting any ersoin – the pigs usually leave a swale like structure behind them. This has been working well for us and reducing our love grass problem in our front paddock were we plan to put our food forest. The pigs finish their rotation next to the yards so they are ready to be loaded up and shipped off.
     
  20. futurefarmer

    futurefarmer Junior Member

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    Fantastic post! Thanks Martyn. Lots of great ideas and considerations with respect to feeding pigs.

    Suppose for discussion's sake I had 100 acres planted with what you suggest - a whole lot of various fodder trees (nuts, fruit, tagasaste, etc.) together with some fodder crops in the ground.

    In such a case, could I be anywhere near providing 100% of the pigs feed from the farm? Or realistically am I still going to have to supplement a fair chunk of their feed?
     

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