Friday, August 6, 2010

what on earth am i feeding my pigs?

One of the questions I get pretty regularly is what I feed the pigs.  Here's today's  menu:  Surplus/expired/wilted produce.  As you can see, it's a mix of all sorts of vegetables and fruits.  Pineapples, watermelons, corn, oranges, papayas, apples, and basically every other type of fruit or vegetable you'll find at a supermarket. 

The pigs pick through the produce and eat what they want, the rest gets mixed with wood chips and then composted.  I particularly like this sort of feed because otherwise this stuff would hit the landfill and be lost.  I get 30 to 60 yards a week (a dump truck is 10 yards) of this, and it really helps to keep the feed bill lower. 


19 comments:

Big Man said...

Do you get this from a grocery store? if not, where from? I'm in New York starting a pig operation and most people tell me that grocery stores are afraid of litigation for giving away their rotten stuff.

How is it delivered? By the dump truck?

Bruce King said...

I get this delivered to my farm in a 40 yard dump truck. This truck makes a route around local grocery stores and picks up the produce that's expired and dumps it once a week here.
The company that runs the truck has a contract with the store and requires they unpackage the food. In return they get a lower rate for pickup than they might I'd they put it into the dumpster

Big Man said...

And then do you pay for it, or is the company just happy to have someone take it?

Bruce King said...

Free.

Bruce King said...

I haven't ignored the question about store liability. I think they're concerned that you might be selling the produce to people. They're going to throw it away. I think that the best pitch is that you can do the right thing by recycling the food as food, and you can save them some money by reducing their landfill costs.

Anonymous said...

How many hogs are you feeding this stuff to and does that include your gestating sows? How much of it is composted by weeks end and do you ever find that the hogs not interested in it and stick mainly to eating the purchased feed?

Bruce King said...

I don't have an exact hog count; somewhere north of 100 right now. They'll pick through the produce and eat favorites first; apples, banannas, pineapples, watermelons, and then eat the other produce more slowly. They see to appreciate a wider diet than just prepared feed, so they always eat some. I pull the prepared feed for a few days every two weeks to get them to clean up the vegetables.
Anything that they don't eat gets mixed with wood chips and composted, along with their manure and urine.

Anonymous said...

What on earth are you feeding your pigs?

Short answer: Crap, again!

Bruce, your pigs must taste bloody awful!

Bruce King said...

Fruit and vegetables aren't crap, in my opinion. Is the only righteous feed corn and soybeans? if so, march right on down to your local grocery store. that's what you'll get. And it doesn't taste anything like the grocery store pork.

Tell you what; I'm open to your ideas on proper feeds. Lets hear 'em.

Anonymous said...

Proper feed, for pigs is NOT fillets of fish; neither is it rotten fruits and vegetables. The free dairy that you'd scored; the "day old" bread; were great finds, why not stick with that instead of using your pigs as garbage disposals.

Bruce King said...

Actually, fish meal and fish oil is a pretty common component of many feed recipes for hogs around the world. Fish meal and oil is also used as part of the mix for a variety of other animals. Sheep, poultry, etc.

What you have to be careful about is feeding too much. It won't hurt the pigs, but it can result in an off taste in the meat. A small amount is fine.

There are many sources of feed that work fine, and I'm going to stick with the vegetables as part of my herds feed mix. I do feed the pigs dairy as it comes available, bread, spent grain and the complete feed from the mill, and I've sold more than 500 pigs this year with no complaints, and eaten a few myself.

Taste is pretty important to me. I regularly eat my own product, and if there was any chance that the pork wouldn't taste great I'd take that very seriously.

Links:
Fish meal used all over the place for all sorts of animals for hundreds of years:
http://www.iffo.net/default.asp?fname=1&sWebIdiomas=1&url=253

The real issue when raising pigs for sale is that feed is your biggest single expense. The produce reduces that expense, allowing me to sell pigs at a price that the market finds attractive and make a decent profit. There is also some satisfaction in using this food that would otherwise go to waste.

But I'm open to input. Whats your source on saying that produce is bad for pigs, or not an appropriate food? If that's true, what the heck are we humans doing eating all those nasty fruits and vegetables?

Anonymous said...

we don't eat those "nasty" fruits and vegetables. The pictures you posted are off NASTY fruits and vegetables. They appear rotten; starting to compost with which comes nasty anaerobic bacteria that can cause problems.

As for the fish oil/meal being used that is the difference. It is fish oil and meat, NOT whole fillets of fish that are going to rot in the feed troughs as the pigs pick at them.

Bruce King said...

As i've said in other postings you have very strong opinions on how a farm should be run, and what should be fed to animals but the opinions you express don't seem to be backed up by the commonly held practices and beliefs of most farmers. So I'm going to ask what your farm experience is, and if you're operating a farm now?

At this point you've agreed that fish meal and oil are fine to feed to pigs. Both are derived from fresh fish. So instead of the processed product, I feed the fresh original ingredient. I don't see a problem there. With fish I usually keep it frozen until use. Whenever we process food, the processing itself changes the nature of the food, and it's my belief that each processing step adds a risk of something going wrong, or bad ingredients being added.

With respect to fruits and vegetables, the pigs eat what they prefer, and the rest gets composted. this is pre-consumer waste. It goes from the produce departments directly to me, never crosses a plate. If it was in perfect condition it would still be in the produce department at your local store. As it is, we get multiple uses out of it and divert it from landfills. On the big picture view, I think that's good.

Anonymous said...

Processed fish oils and meal don't ROT; see the difference. Farm experience isn't necessary to view those photos and conclude that as a consumer I wouldn't purchase animals that have been eating that junk.

Angie said...

Most hogs i have seen will eat the stuff we think is the grossest first, like rotten milk.......it is their favorite. Pigs are natures clean up crew, if you put a bucket of grain from a feed store and a bucket of the stuff in the pictures above, they will fight and squeal and snort with joy over the "nasty" bucket, and not even touch the grain, knock it over as a what the heck is this crap gesture though. As for those fish fillets...they probably were one of the first things to get eaten, rooted through the pile to find every last one, cause after all they are the stinkiest "nastiest" thing in the pile.......just the way hogs like it!

Anonymous said...

thanks for the explanation Angie; after googling "slop" what you say makes sense. It just doesn't seem like the healthiest, that's all.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous ... I think you owe Bruce an apology here and just surprised that you go to great lengths in critizing someone as agressively as you have been doing who is repected all over the world for his way of farming and openness even though we may not all agree to what he does all the time !
regards from Austria /Europe

Elizabeth Lawhorn said...

What do you feed your hogs in Winter?

Leonardo said...

Congratulations Bruce! I find this solution very sustainable and responsible with the environment. Spoiled food in the dumpster will pollute the environment with CO2 and will just contribute to global warming. We know traditional farming pollutes with CO2 as well, instead you reuse manure and urine with the rest of the spoiled food to produce compost to grow more food. Probably, you will be interested to turn this waste into Bio-Gas (Methane) to generate your own electric power to operate your farm on lower cost in the future. Good job!