Grass, Anyone?
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Ralph enjoys watching the pigs

We have had pigs here at Briarmoor for almost two weeks now, and last week was their first move from one paddock to the next.  I love to watch them enjoy all the fresh, green grass and anything else they can get a hold of, roots, dirt, etc.

Moving onto new ground

Although they seem to make the paddocks look like disaster areas, in a few weeks you can go back and see so much more life.  I’ll always be amazed at the variety of plants that come after pigs have been over the ground.  Here they are munching away, can you hear their delight?!

This is the beginning of the season, I’ll post more pictures later in the year and then you can see the new growth!  Questions or comments about pigs?

 

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About Erin Phelan

Born and raised in western Michigan, Erin came to Polyface first as an intern in the summer of 2009. While here she met and got to know Grady Phelan, an apprentice at the time. The next spring they were married and after a couple years in Oklahoma they are back, working as sub-contractors for Polyface. Erin keeps herself busy with the jobs of a wife and mother, as well as helping with the animals, gardening, sewing, cooking, baking, knitting and reading.
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17 Responses to Grass, Anyone?

  1. Charles says:

    Feral hogs tore up my back 10 acres so bad that we couldn’t even cut hay last year. What do you do about the ruts after the hogs go through? Do you leave them, plow them or when the hogs are all condensed it’s rutted more even? Let me know your thoughts. I was going to dig a new pond so at the same time I was thinking of just plowing everything up and starting over.

    Charles

    • Erin Phelan says:

      Have you seen any growth improvement? We don’t usually use the land the pigs are on for much else, maybe to graze other animals, so we just leave whatever ruts they make. If you want to hay the field again you might have to just plow it up, (or wait and see what happens in a year or two…) not sure what else you could do.

      • Charles says:

        Yeah, the growth is ok. A lot of goat weed though because we couldn’t cut. But, the ruts (6″-12″ in some places) are so bad you can’t run a bailer. Thanks for the advice.

        Charles

  2. Those are “some pigs”! Wilbur would be right at home there!

  3. Tonia says:

    We have gotten our first 2 pigs to raise on pasture this year.. They are 7 weeks old and I have them started on a mix of grains to supplement the grass along with whey and extra milk from the goats.. I cant wait!!!

  4. Patrick says:

    Hi,

    I am really interested in learning more about how you rotate the pigs and what size enclosures you use. I read “salad bar beef” so I understand the concept of rotational grazing, but do pigs need better fencing? How do you move the water? Same was as in the book via ponds and pumps? How many pigs be X square footage can you do? I realize this depends on the quality of grass, but if I was starting out on pretty wild rough pasture, what would be a ballpark?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Erin Phelan says:

      Hi Patrick,
      We use one or two strands of electric fencing for the pigs, just lower to the ground compared to cattle fence. We move the water tank just like we do for cattle, dump it out and move it to the next paddock. Our pig pastures have water running down one side through black plastic pipe and there are valves every so often where you can hook up a garden hose that supplies the water tank. You can supply the black plastic pipe with water however fits your operation. (i.e. a well, pond and pump, gravity feed, etc.) Pigs per square foot is something you will have to play with to get right. It depends on a lot of variations like how big your paddocks are or how long you want to leave them in one spot. I would just get pigs and start growing them. You can also learn tons more about Pigs and everything else at Polyface during the Polyface Intensive Discovery Seminars this summer. Contact Polyface for more info.

  5. J cowan says:

    very nice looking

  6. Grace says:

    Hi Erin. As we continue to get up to speed with cows, turkeys, hens, broilers and our garden, we also do look forward to some raising pigs. They fascinate me. Always something to look forward to! Michael and I are nearly addicted to Polyface pork sausage. Whenever we serve it at our house people nearly go crazy. It’s so fantastic. Must be all those acorns! Thanks for this.

  7. Annie says:

    We are getting our first batch of 10 pigs in May!!

    I do have a question: We feed whole grains to our chickens and would like to avoid having to pay for grinding or milling of these grains for the pigs. We know they aren’t as efficient with whole grains, but my husband’s plan is to soak the grains for a day or so. Will that work?

    • Erin Phelan says:

      The only answer I can tell you is: give it a try. I would imagine that soaking the grain would be a great help, but I’ve never tried it for pigs. They will probably love it though, and if you soak the grain in milk, whey, etc. they may enjoy it even more!
      Let me know how it works! Enjoy your pigs 🙂

  8. Sarah Emily says:

    They look so happy. We are planning on getting a few pigs sometime this spring. I can’t wait, as I love watching them.

  9. I love Joel’s idea of using the pigs one month out of the year for replicating what other large wild animals use to do. Years ago I learned much about what nature use to do by reading the diaries of early explorers and naturalists like John Muir. Back in history there were som many more animals that maintained the natural world. Like myself, many have noticced those numbers have dropped off dramatically.

    Over here in what many consider to be Eco-Green Sweden, they are no greener than elsewhere. They practice industrial forestry. The woods are so dense that no one can take a walk through them. In fact no bird life or any other wils life lives below the tree understores because the ground is totally dead and barren under many trees. To most Swedes, they have the healthiest environment, however they only feel that way because it’s green everywhere. But the ONLY reason it’s green is because the country has rain and wet continually. With enough water any setting can be green, but it’s very weedy even if it’s trees. Clearly animals are the main forest maintenance equipment that should be used for maintenance.

    Thanks for the read again

    Kevin

  10. Do you guys offer the pigs anything to help prevent or control parasites or have you had a problem with that? Is there something you can do if you think that they DO have parasites at some point during the growing season? We haven’t had a problem as of yet but people tell us (albeit people doing traditional farming) that we need to be worried about worms/parasites/etc. Thanks!

  11. Bea Ackroyd says:

    Could you give us some more info on how the land rests and recovers? Do you find just giving your land over to pigs (and maybe a little grazing) productive compared to grazing say cattle? 2 pigs dug up 2/3 of an acre for us in 4 months last year, leading me to think that our 13-acre farm can’t sustain too many more pigs. It was a really wet summer here (Wales, Great Britain) and the mud was hard to handle even though we moved the pigs once a week – and nearly every other day when they got big (6 months old). The ground has recovered quite well though – patchy grass back, more uneven surface than previously – but I worry about undoing good pasture by having pigs root up so many of the plants. Your thoughts would be really welcome! Thank you for this blog – it helps me very much while I am feeling my way through my own small farm enterprise. (I have also posted on one other pig page on the Henhouse blog – sorry if I am doubling up!) I am so keen to make it work with pigs over here but I’m not sure how to cope with the devastation they cause – it does look alarming, but is this something that actually isn’t a big deal in the long run? Many thanks! Best wishes

  12. Just re-asking the question from above; What do y’all do for parasites in your pigs? Or do you not have any problems?

    …just wondering! Your pigs look very happy! 🙂