Milk Fed Pastured Pigs

        I have been very interested in using pigs to work up our stale fields but the price of feed has kept us from experimenting with them since our first time back in 1995.  We also have established a fairly steady flow of waste dairy products from our families various dairy hobbies.  We have been told stories about how amazing pork is when the pigs have been fed dairy products and we have been very anxious to try and raise them again.  This past summer we finally got an opportunity to see just what those little rooting machines could do.

     Our youngest son usually raises pastured poultry but this year decided he would try his hand at raising a small number of weanlings. The idea was to keep one for ourselves and market the rest for freezer pork.  Our local provincially inspected plant is equipped to process pigs.

     The first stage of the project was to access weanlings.  There aren’t many small hog farmers anymore but we were successful. They arrived on the farm the end of April at about 50 pounds.  We kept them in our empty hen house for the first month.  We lined it with puck board so the pigs couldn’t chew through the walls.  From our earlier experience with pigs we knew they greatly enjoy chewing on wood.  To minimize boredom we also gave them a basketball.  That also minimized destruction.  By the time they had discovered how to get their noses into the cracks in the floor their outdoor pen was ready and the weather was warm enough for them also.

     We decided to feed the pigs differently.  Years ago we had them in a stationary pen and fed them chop.  This time they were going to be in a portable pen (pig tractor) enabling them to dig and eat fresh greens.  In the warm months we have an abundance of whey, buttermilk and skim milk which is a favorite food of pigs.  My son made porridge out of pea screenings, kitchen and garden scraps along with a vitamin/mineral supplement from the feed store.  During canning season the pigs quite willingly ate all our scraps.  We were rewarded for making them happy with amazing digging machines.

     We chose our goat and sheep pasture for our experiment.  It was originally seeded in the 1960’s so when it just didn’t grow this year we really weren’t surprised.  This ground was root bound and compacted. The first few weeks they had to be on the same piece of ground for more than one day.  Their pen was ten feet by twenty feet and was built on old hydro poles for runners. MAFRI had told us that it would take seven pigs per acre to overturn it all in a season but our pen was the right size for four.

     An acre is 43560 square feet.  The pen is 200 square feet.  So, we calculated that we would have to move the pen 218 times to turn over an acre.  What we didn’t expect was that four pigs once they hit about one hundred pounds would need to be moved more than once a day.  This was a wonderful surprise because that meant we might actually succeed in turning over an acre from May 1st to first snow.  The other thing we found is that pigs are more than happy to dig out large rocks.

      To entice them to dig out the boulders my son would pour extra water around it to get the ground soft.  Then he would let the pigs go to work.  Within about twenty four hours they would have the rock loosened out of the dirt enough that he could easily pop them out with the loader and tractor. 

      The design of the “pig tractor” needs to be tweaked a bit for next year to enable better turning.  Another point we missed was that we started at the near end of the pasture instead of the furthest point.  So, the animals might not want to pass over the newly seeded area to get to the rest of the pasture next spring.  Next year we will start at the far end where we winter feed cows and let the pigs turn all that into the ground for us.  Not only are they extremely good at this they enjoy it.   When they hear my son coming with their slop they make the happiest pig noises we have ever heard.

     Our family will definitely be repeating this experiment in 2014.  To be honest it was good for our souls to watch one of God's creation live out their lives doing the work, so willingly, that He had meant them for.  If your interested in ordering pork click on the Time to Order link under the Farmer Market heading.  We will be happy to talk.

Comment

  1. I got half a pig done up for me and it taste great. The meat looks great not all pale and washed out looking. Will definitely get another half next year.

    — Doug · Jan 24, 11:11 am · #

  2. My girlfriend and I got half a pig and it was the best pork we’ve ever had. The bacon especially was incredible, I don’t think I could eat bacon from the store anymore because it would be too disappointing compared to this.

    — Mike · Feb 1, 12:09 pm · #

  3. We really enjoyed watching the pig tractor move around the field last summer… and tried to figure out how long it would take to get the full field dug up! LOL Cute article & enjoyed the view : )

    Our own pasture pigs worked well although they were not in a tractor but we enjoyed their antics from my picture window all summer. They are very tasty all winter and definitely not ‘Barn-pork’ The difference in the outdoor raised vs indoor raised is unbelievable… just the aroma vs smell of the meat and the pigs them selves are not offensive. Mine were situated less than 30 feet from my kitchen windows and you never noticed them at all. Lorna

    Lorna · Apr 14, 09:33 am · #

  4. Very nice ! But, how do you keep them from digging out from under the skids , as I have heard pigs are notorious for the “tunneling escape” act. Are they just too content to bother ? Would greatly appreciate your input. Thankyou chuck

    Reply: You are exactly right. Pigs are notorious for escaping but with moving these ones daily they were always busy. We also fed them a soaked/sprouted grain ration. These pigs were the most content pigs we have ever seen. They really made no attempt to escape and if they did they happily went back home. They were not angry at all or hard to load onto a trailer when the time came either. We are very convinced diet has more to do with behavior than we used to believe.

    — Chuck · Oct 28, 05:33 am · #

  Textile help

Farm Market

Categories

External Links

RSS Feeds

Search This Site