Thursday, September 2, 2010

pigs eating produce.

Click on the photo for a larger version

One thing about feeding the pigs a buffet is that they get to pick their favorites out of the mix.  The fruits and vegetables are in addition to their regular feed,and the entire herd comes over when a load is delivered to inspect it and eat the bits that they prefer.
Before i receive a new load I scrape up what is left of the last load into windrows.  It's a mix of decayed fruit and vegetables and wood chips.  I use the wood chips to provide additional biomass and to provide lots of carbon to keep the smell down on the composting itself.  The smell is interesting; there's a substantial amount of citrus that comes in each load, grapefruits and oranges mostly, and the pigs don't like them very much.  So when I go to scrape it up it smells a bit like a citrus salad as I crush the fruit with the tractor. 

   I'll turn these windrows of half-composted materials with the tractor, and the pigs will turn them as well.  Later in the fall the pigs will actually sleep on the compost pile because of the warmth that it generates.   In the picture above I've spread another 12" of wood chips to receive the next load. 
The piglets, like any young critter, like the sweet stuff.  Here these three are scanning for their favorite items.  Strawberries and cherries, with the occasional mango or papaya. 
As with most children, getting them to eat their salad first is often a struggle.  Here this little pig is ignoring the sweet corn and lettuce for the strawberry it's eating. 
Food is good, but it's even better when you can bury your whole face in it.  Here this pig is enjoying its bananas -- both the banana in its mouth and the ones it's smearing all over its face. 

The big pigs lead the little guys over to the pile, and give them a rough idea on what's good to eat.  The little pigs are a little tentative, but they'll skitter in under the legs of momma, or kinda hang out and try to steal bits from her mouth, which most sows tolerate.  Eventually everyone has all they can eat and the day ends with a siesta. 


shane said...

thanks again for sharing your work Bruce.

i'm setting up a small area for a local farmer to dump loads of waste produce when it's convenient for him. i'll then let some of my pigs in to clean it up. i can't allow the ones < 3 months from slaughter to eat it though, so i'm not sure it's going to be worth it in the end.

Anonymous said...

@shane: i can't allow the ones < 3 months from slaughter to eat it

I'm currently researching the raising of pigs, so I need a little help understanding things... Could you (or someone else) expound on the reasoning behind this?


Bruce King said...

Heath Putnam over at has written in his blog extensively about how the last few months he's careful what he feeds his pigs to make sure that they have the best taste, and I think that that's what Shane is referring to here. Basically what you feed them towards the end of the growout matters, and you try to avoid things that impart unpleasant flavors to the pork. but I don't think that most vegetables will impart any flavor, and some producers, notably the spanish iberico producers, intentionally finish their pork on feed that imparts flavors. They use acorns for a particular, prized, taste.