Starting the Build of Guinea Hog Pastures.

Discussion in 'Breeding, Raising, Feeding and Caring for Animals' started by Bryant RedHawk, Aug 17, 2015.

  1. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Well we went and did it, bought a Guinea Hog Boar and Two Gilts to start our breeding program. Now I have two weeks to get a pasture fenced in, a Hog house built and get some greens growing so they have fresh fodder in their pasture. So here's the current plan, if you have suggestions, please, please give them, I am always open to new ideas.

    We are fencing in approximately 1/3 to 2/3 acre for the initial pasture, it has good shade trees (White Oak and Hickory along with a few Sacred Cedars) and some native grasses already there. We have found good spots for the wallow, one partially shaded, the other nearly full shade. Once the perimeter is fenced I will use some pallets to put together a nice little Hog house that will work for them (they are all around 10 weeks old and each is from a different breeder so gene pool is as broad as we could get it for now). I have 5 lbs. (2 Kilos) of white clover seed which will get spread in two separate seeding periods and I plan to add seven top turnip, purple top turnip, rape and some Daikon to the planting mix. The soil that is destined to be pasture has a sandy clay makeup and was previously covered with Sumac and Blackberry ( took the better part of a year to get those mostly gone working at it by hand tools). We have a way to water the pasture but will be hoping to get it onto collected water and soil improvement by rotational grazing should help a lot with soil fertility over the next couple of years.

    The current pH of this soil is 6.7, water holding ability is currently around 2 gal per cu. ft. but it goes away very quickly since there isn't a lot of organic matter to keep it in place but this will change rapidly as the hogs help us build more bio diversity in their living quarters. I may need to add some lime to the soil prior to the hogs arrival but I'm in a time crunch so we shall see how much can be accomplished prior to their home coming.

    As I mentioned above, any suggestions are very much welcome. I helped my grandfather with his pigs when I was a wee lad but that was almost 50 years ago so you can imagine how rusty I will be at this adventure's start.

    Dang forgot to mention that we are using 2x4 welded wire fencing with a white ribbon around the bottom, this white ribbon is electric fence tape and what the breeders are using so our hogs know what that is and should not bother testing the fence at all. We went with 48" fence because the current crop of feral dogs do not jump higher than 2 feet that we can tell. We are also going to acquire four cattle panels for use as separation barrier within the pasture, this should allow us to create a rotational pasturing model so the forage can replenish/ recover between grazing periods. What do you think? is this an adequate startup plan?
     
  2. dreuky

    dreuky Junior Member

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    Sounds like you are trying to create hog heaven. My only thought is is this area big enough to allow time to recover between grazing? From what I know about pigs they are pretty hard on the land. Hope all goes well with your hogs
     
  3. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Hi dreuky, yes that is exactly what the end goal is.

    I agree that we don't have enough space right now for full recovery but we do have plans to address that as we go along.
    Our hogs will be 10 weeks old when we get them so for now the pasture we are fencing (I measured it last night and it is 2/3 acre) can be divided into two paddocks, which will give the little buggers about twice as much space as the entire litter (6 piglets), sow and boar have currently at the breeder's homestead. Since we are going to be adding pasture paddocks all through the winter we should be able to pull this off without having much land decimated by them from being in one paddock to long. I am wanting at least 8 paddocks so we can move them weekly but for now, what we have is what we can get ready in two weeks. We are going to have rain starting tonight and it is highly predicted for the rest of the week, so that will help sprout the seeds I am laying down tonight after work. Those are; white clover, rape seed, seven top turnip, some more native grasses. These all take only a few days to germinate, the area I'm going to put this batch into will be cordoned off from our "herd" for at least six weeks so the plants can get a good start. When I move them onto this first enhanced pasture, I'll plant the previous pasture space. I am figuring I will be going through this motion set for at least the next full year. Lot of work but with a good gene pool to start out with, we should be breeding around spring of 2016 with our first litters.

    These hogs, are going to be hard on the pastures if I don't have a way to move them but I've noticed that the individual spaces need to be about what we are doing so the pressure isn't overwhelming to the plants. The real key is to sort of mob graze them, a week here a week there and have enough so there is at least 6 weeks recovery between grazing periods. I am shooting for an 8 week recovery period, and will adjust each paddock size as we go along.
     
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  4. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    for some large leaf fast growth buckwheat is excellent, but i don't know how well it is as a fodder plant (the bunnies and deer seem to like it). the reason i mention it is that for some seed starting it is also a good nursery crop as it protects the seedlings while they get established and helps keep other weeds down because of the big leaf area.

    alfalfa is also a good pasture plant with the deep roots and it self-spaces so there is room for other plants in the stand.

    with such a short fence you must not have deer problems or don't worry about them? around here they can be trouble and also carry deer ticks which we don't want in the gardens.
     
  5. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Thanks songbird,
    I will add some buckwheat and alfalfa to the pastures, sounds great for fodder. We don't have to worry about deer as much because of our dogs and I've noticed that deer do not like to be near hogs. One of the breeders (our boar breeder) doesn't even have real fence, just two strands of electric tape to keep the hogs where he wants them. I asked about deer getting into the pasture and he said that before he got the hogs they would be there every evening and morning eating alongside his goats. He said that since the hogs were introduced to the pasture the deer have not been around.

    I am hoping that will be the case, but if not I don't have a problem with sharing pasture with deer, I have feed plots out for them already (I bow hunt some of our meat supply). We try to live with nature, if a hawk takes a chicken then we have just provided a meal, we keep extras because we realize we will have losses to predators. We just try to make it un-desirable for them to hunt our animals. The ticks, we have all over anyway, which is why we are getting guinea hens as soon as we get set up for them. The only predators I could have issues with are the coyotes, raccoons, foxes and feral dog packs. Of those it is the feral dogs that create the biggest problem, I use the terminal solution for those when they make themselves an issue.
     
  6. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Although I know personally two hog breeders, what you're doing is very new territory for me. Very interested in what you're doing and how it progresses.
     
  7. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    I will keep updating, this is my first adventure into hog breeding. With our females I will be able to do some limited line breeding for a few traits we really want our line to have so they are easily recognized as from Buzzard's Roost. I have not been able to get the SOP and am not really sure there is one for the Guinea Hog. Research is pretty fun since these hogs were originally brought to USA by T.Jefferson and a few other founding fathers. One of ours has a nice red ting to the hairs and that is one of the traits I want our line to have along with floppy ears instead of the upright ears. We also have a nice "razorback" trait. All three of these are mentioned in the old descriptions I have found, these days all of this breed are black, some have the red ting of the originals. It is quite interesting to me that those first hogs were red but the color was lost somewhere along the way. I doubt I could bring back a pure red hog but if I can get that red ting I will be happy.
     
  8. dreuky

    dreuky Junior Member

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    If the breeder uses electric fence have you thought about using it too? We use it for our sheep and it is very successful. It's main advantage is you can be totally flexible, and subdivide an area into more paddocks than you could afford with solid fencing. We have a boundary fence which is wire and that area is divided into up to 8 paddocks. We use a solar powered energizer as well as a small portable unit that runs on 6 D cell batteries which last about 6 months. Sounds like your piggies are going to have a good life which is IMO very important. I'm a vego but that's me. My real hate is meat animals having a horrible life all their life, as so many commercial animals do.
     
  9. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    I took off work Thur. and Fri. to get everything finished up, they have a hog house that will end up being a farrowing house as they grow larger. Found a natural place for the wallow and will give them a start on that once we have them home. We have straw for bedding, the pasture is nice and green from two days of watering so I thing I am set for Saturday which is when we pick them up.
    My wife saw the hog house I built and says it will do, pallets are nice for building with but they certainly can be a lot of work as well, these were old, made of oak and all the nails are rusted in so much I could barely pull the ones that needed pulling. I also built a hog carrier box that will fit the back of our farm van, we bought it because it has rear aircon. something that here in the south is needed to keep animals from overheating when being transported.

    Saturday we picked up our hogs, Adam (the boar) was first and he settled right into the carrier box. We picked up Eve (the older gilt (3 months)) next and while getting ready to be back on the road, Adam and Eve decided to have a bit of pecking order scuffle. Quite the show, they were at it hot and heavy, which moved the transport box all over the back. Wife got out and settled them down.
    Last to pick up was our true baby (just 10 weeks old) she was put into a cardboard box, to keep her from being hurt by the other two. When we got home, we put Adam and Eve into the paddock and they were eating straight away, happy hogs it seemed. When we put Daysie (the baby) in to the paddock she immediately started to test the fencing, and sure enough she found a weak spot and was gone. We both went to try and find her but after walking the entire property and some extra, no baby hog was to be found. My wife was heart sick from watching 150.00 disappear. I told her we had things that just had to get done and I would look more later. I made a trip into town for some items I had forgotten to stock in prior to the hog's pick up time. I was coming back up our drive and who should I see casually walking up the road but Daysie, I got out and tried to get her to come to me but she would have none of that. My wife took off after her, I parked the van and started after them on foot. One hour later, we had the errant Daysie almost cornered, the little hog made a wrong move and was hemmed in by our neighbor's fence, my wife performed and flying tackle. Success, she had the wriggling miss Daysie in her arms. I helped my wife to her feet and we started the half mile hike home, several stops for wind were required as we walked up the hill. I carried the travel box into the paddock and we placed Daysie inside so she would not be able to escape again. We spent the next day covering the bottom of the paddock with 2x6 boards so no more escapes would be probable. Sunday evening we let Daysie out of her confinement and she surprised us by not even going towards the fence. She has settled into her new home quite well now but likes to sleep in the travel box, so I will leave it in the paddock until I can put together a larger version for her to call home. The boar, beat up by Eve at every turn has decided he can dominate Daysie, so we will keep her separated at treat time to keep the bully from stealing her portion. Other wise the three are getting along together quite nicely. So Far.

    Yes, dreuky, we have plans to get a spool of the electric tape and a charger for making easy paddocks. If we find predators on the game cameras we will put two or three regular wires on the outside of the fence to deter them. Our closest neighbor likes to shoot his guns a lot, so we will be needing to put up a perimeter fence on the property line so he knows where it is. That will be a760 foot fence, through the woods. Once we have that up, it will be easy to divide out several paddocks. For now our hogs are for producing breeding stock for sale to other breeders. Only one or two would be destined for the meat locker and those would be the offspring that didn't sell to breeders. We are registered breeders of registered Guinea Hogs, we are mostly doing this project for the purpose of improving the genetic survivability and diversity of the current gene pool. We will be adding breeding stock from different lines, the goal is to have zero inbreeding on Buzzard's Roost.
     
  10. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Well, after only one day of bully behavior it appears that Adam has elected to accept Daysie. We see the three of them wandering around and eating together, they are now sleeping together as well. When our dogs decide to have a bark fest (aimed at the hogs on the other side of the fence), Daysie just gets behind Adam, who grunts at the dogs once then just lays back down. It seems the hogs understand that the dogs have no way of getting to them, they will sleep right up against the fence. The dogs, on the other hand, still don't understand that all that barking is for naught.
     
  11. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Just an update, new plants are growing and I have laid out four new pasture spaces, these will get a perimeter fence and then we are going to use electric tape to separate, this way I should be able to just move the hogs around with out having to put up so much fence, that will save a bunch of money. Found out that Deer do not like to associate with hogs ( saw prints up to the fence and along it but no one jumped inside). That is interesting to me, I see deer mingle with goats, sheep and cattle all the time. Our dogs were introduced to the hogs but they both didn't like it when the hogs got in their faces, glad we had hold of the dogs the whole time. My Boxer guard dog has taken to breaking up hog fights, which happen occasionally because the boar and our biggest sow want to lay down in the same space. Once the hogs settle down, he turns away and struts away all tough looking, like he did his job. Quite a riot to watch actually.
     
  12. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Fascinating about the deer! Boxers are one of my favorite dog breeds.
    Thanks for the update.
     
  13. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    With winter on the way I have had to switch focus for a while towards winterizing our 20 foot travel trailer we currently call home. Once I finish those projects I will be back onto the hog pastures. The new plantings in the pasture are starting to come along fairly well and surprise, the hogs aren't showing any interest in the new greenery so far. I've taken to using them as plows for the time being and they are doing a fine job of bringing rocks of all sizes up to the surface in the space I placed them. I water the ground and once they feel like it is soft enough, the rooting begins, I've noticed they are going after worms, grubs, roots and what ever else they find. The soil is being enriched and loosened up quite nicely from their activities, should be nice area to plant my new pasture mix of seeds in. I've marked out another acre to turn into wooded pastures, leaving the oaks and some of the hickories for mast and removing all of the undergrowth will be the next project which will end with more perimeter fencing going up. The pack of coyotes sound like they are growing and occasionally sound like they are very close. I sure hope they stay on the cattle pastures that are behind our land, don't really want to have to do target practice but will if they become a problem.
     
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  14. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    You live in a cold winter climate, right Bryant?
    We'd be very interested in hearing your approach to preparing your trailer (caravan) for winter. Travel trailers don't typically have much in the way of insulation ...
    ; )
     
  15. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Hi Bill, I don't know if I would call Arkansas a cold climate but we do get down into the teens (f) (I have lived in Up state New York)

    What I did for our little (20 ft. long) travel trailer is put on a full underpinning, I used 7/16 OSB and pieces of 2x 4 and 2x6 to screw the pieces together. I also profiled the pieces so they fit nice and tight against the trailer. This keeps the wind from being able to go under the trailer and keeps the floor pretty warm through out our winter (normally our coldest weather is Jan. and Feb.) The wind is key for us to keep comfortable it has to be stopped or blocked off. We also use a film on the inside of the windows to help keep cold transfer down and I put heat tapes on all the water lines I can get to so we don't have to worry about frozen piping. This summer we put on a free standing roof over the whole trailer. This roof will end up being part of our house so it extends about 3 feet on each side of the trailer, this way it will be easier to pull the trailer out when we are ready to build this space into a room of the house. If it gets as cold as the farmer's almanac indicates we will use straw bales around the outside of the underpinning to help insulate that area and hopefully keep any water lines from issues of cold. I also insulated the sewage line I installed with 1/2 inch thick neoprene rubber and 6" thick fiberglass insulation, this is around the p-trap since that is the only place water stands in the sewage line. The p-trap is also behind the underpinning so it is out of the wind.

    When I was putting in the new roof support beams (3 1x2 of maple pieces glued and screwed together in each beam) I put them at 14" centers and cross braced them all together, there was 2" of Styrofoam already there from the manufacturer and I added two 1" thick pieces of blue insulation board so the roof keeps heat out and heat inside much better than what the factory determined to be satisfactory. We just discovered that the entire bathroom will have to be gutted and reframed so with that little discovery we have decided to go ahead of schedule with the house build so I don't have to build two bathrooms. There's always something tossing monkey wrenches at us, LOL.
     
  16. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    We finally had a decent cold snap and found out that just the OSB was not enough to keep the floor warm. I have now added a layer of 1/2 inch thick foam board insulation on top of the OSB and with nights getting down to 28 degrees f. we are seeing an improvement. I also used expanding foam to seal the upper and lower junctions between the trailer and the OSB and the ground and the OSB, that did a lot for keeping air leaks to a minimum. So far no frozen pipes and I don't really anticipate any freezing of the pipes now that it seems I have the cold under control. Of course we get out coldest nights in Jan. and Feb. so we will just have to wait and see how those months go. It is looking like the El Nino is helping us out a lot with plenty of rain and warmer than normal weather. The roof I put up over the trailer is doing a fair job of trapping lost heat so far.

    I spent about three hours clearing the fence path for the new pasture area, cutting down low branches and removing some of the junk trees. Still a lot of this work to do but once again rain is in the weekend forecast, I'll just keep plugging along and gathering seeds for the native wild oats and other grasses. I've got 5 lbs. of a nice fescue, 5 lbs. of alfalfa and some buckwheat stashed to spread in the new pasture area. We are also buying cattle panels to use as dividers so we don't have to have so much permanent fencing up. Now the wife is talking goats to use for brush control so that means I will need to layout and install another acre or two for pastures. Our hogs are growing up nicely, just about at 110 lbs. now so they will be breeding around the end of January.
     
  17. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi Bryant,
    You mentioned native wild oats ... the wheat farmers around here consider those to be invasive weeds and this past year I discovered some here that were "imported" with straw bales we got for mulch. Can you give me the low-down on uses/benefits for native wild oats??
    Thanks.
     
  18. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    HI Bill, I use the wild native oats (apparently these are also known as side oats) to hold hill side soil in place, to give pastures some deeper rooting plants, but the best place I've used them so far has been the feed plots for the deer and turkeys. These two critters apparently love the seeds of the wild native oats since they come in all winter long and strip off any of the seeds that have hung on to the stalks (most of ours tend to hang on till spring when they fall to the ground). Come spring these stalks fall over and mulch the ground all by themselves. I have also noticed that they comeback year after year from the roots, any seeds that make it to sprouting just add to the clumps of wild oats. Our hogs were put in an area that had a lot of them growing and they have rooted up and devoured all of the clumps, meaning that now I will have to move the hogs and replant that pasture area. I'm hoping this year to gather enough seed to spread more down our south facing slope and near the back edge of our property which is north facing. I have noticed that the root systems of the wild oats seem to attract our mycelium to themselves. I put some in an area that had nothing growing at ground level this spring and now the oat clumps are sprouting some mushrooms. I didn't inoculate the seeds or the space, but our land is full of many mycelium.

    One of the elders told me that I could cook these oats just like the fat commercial oats I grow but he mentioned that they will not taste like what I might think they would taste. I may give that a trial but for now I'm just feeding the wild animals by planting them and forgetting them. Their roots are great for soil holding, they go pretty deep and they spread, the "clump" they form grows about two inches a year best I can measure so for soil stabilizing they seem to be pretty good if you grow them rather intensively planting wise.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2015
  19. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Excellent information Bryant, thank you. I'll be encouraging these oats for our deer, pheasant, and quail.
     
  20. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Winter finally showed itself this week, night temps down in the mid 20's and days up to the mid 50's. We got around 5" of rain in two days and part of our road eroded again, so back to digging the up hill side ditch this weekend. Wife wants me to also build a windbreak for the hogs then build some more raised beds for her gardening. The weather is supposed to be sunny with highs in the lower 50's so I'll pull on the insulated overalls and see just how much I can get done. The 50 mph winds of the four day storm (which spawned those tornadoes in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas) blew down some of my dead trees and they are now widow makers. Soon I'll have to get to the job of taking those down with either the jeep and recovery straps or use the come-along to pull them down for cutting up. Always more to get done than I have hours or strength to do over one weekend. I have half of the fence line for the new paddocks cleared and only another 4-5 hundred feet to go on that job. Then it will be dragging 100 foot rolls of fence wire and stretching to go. On the bright side, we have a good kale crop going strong for winter greens.

    Found some nice Turkey tracks way in the back so maybe the feed plots are really starting to attract the animals we want to come live with us. Deer and squirrels have been here all along but turkey and quail are also animals I want around.
     

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