Friday, May 21, 2010

Rotational grazing, pig style

I've been getting good use out of my pasture this year by using a couple of different animals. The first rotation is the cows; they'll eat the top of the grass, down to about 10" or so. After that the sheep go in, and they'll graze it very short. Once the sheep have grazed it down, the pigs go in. The pigs prefer the newest, most tender growth, and while they enjoy the grass (and the grass roots from time to time) they really don't eat it as fast as it grows. After a month or so, I'll move the pigs on to give the grass a complete rest.
Here's what the grass looks like after the cows have grazed. 

 Here's what it looks like when the pigs start their grazing.  


sheila said...

Solar energy put to its best use.

Anonymous said...

What do you use for fencing? We pasture cows but I am afraid my piggys will roam too far would electric fence work?

Bruce King said...

In the top picture (the one with the sheep grazing) you can see the electric fence I'm using. it's the 5/8" poly rope, with a double strand of it. The top strand is to keep the sheep in, the bottom is for the sheep and pigs.

We work with the pigs to condition them to respect the electric fence. that basically means we keep them in an hard-fenced enclosure that has a strand of the polyrope on the inside. The hard fence keeps them in, and they soon learn to avoid the poly rope. Once that's established, you can keep them in with pretty minimal fencing in normal situations.

Check out the pictures in this entry for an example of a a minimal pig fence once they're conditioned:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for answering my previous question. I was thinking about pasturing my pigs along the canal by our house since there is always a lot of grass that grows there. I'm just worried about one of them falling in. do you think that its a bad idea?

Bruce King said...

No problem. Pigs love water -- the canal will not stop them, they'll dive right in unless you fence them out of it.

Once they're in, they're just as likely to come out the other side as this one, or stay in the water for a while and go on an adventure, so if it were me I'd fence them out of it.

If you choose to give them access, make sure that they can get out easily. A low bank with a ramp up to it under the water helps a big sow get out. If it's too hard here they'll swim around and find somewhere else they like better to get out, which may not be where you want them to be.