Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pigs on pasture

I've talked a lot about pigs on pasture, and my skepticism that you can raise pigs on a diet that is primarily what they find on the land.  "90% pasture" is just not reality for all of the pork producers I know of. 

John Schneider who writes in his blog Golden forest grains wrote an article in 2006 for Small Farm Canada magazine.  In that article he describes a feed mix that he prepares for his pigs that is pretty credible -- that is, I think he's got the science down, tracks what the overall protein of the feed mix is, and knows how many calories and a ration size.   It does include a large percentage of forage -- in the form of alfalfa hay -- and it's backed by research he found that studied how effectively pigs take up this sort of feed. 

In short, it sounds pretty real to me.  Here's his article.

Note:  Wild pigs grow great without being fed -- but they have acres per pig, not pigs per acre, and the growth rate (= return on investment) is much slower than a fed, domestic pig.   No commercial pig producer that I know of is producing pigs with a diet that is primarily pasture, despite many loud claims. 

2 comments:

ewewin said...

Hi Bruce,
My husband and I had pigs on pasture for a while. They did do a lot of damage to the pasture, but the meat was outstanding. Wild pigs eat a lot of acorns, plant roots, eggs- and yes- even small mammals. In addition to the pasture, our pigs got the waste produce our local grocery store was throwing out- they put it aside for us. They LOVE mellons!
Cadie
www.ewewin.wordpress.com

Anonymous said...

mathass

I know a guy who thought his young pigs would grow well on pasture because the plants supposedly had a lot of protein in them (20% or so). His pigs didn't grow fast at all.

Wild boar convert feed a lot slower than their domesticated relatives.