Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hog Tractors or Hog Dozers?

One of the reasons that Dexter cattle were so appealing to us was that they were great foragers and browsers. In fact I think I had my dad sold on the breed when he talked to a breeder in our area of the state that said they will even eat multiflora rose. Well, our farm is over run with multiflora rose so my did really liked that idea. One of the goals of our farm is to reopen many of the places that have been over taken by brush, junk trees, and cedar trees. In one section of the farm we have what we call fingers ... these are little grass ridges with very small valleys (20 yards wide maybe) full of brush and trees. When we first moved there these areas weren't especially overrun, but now they are a tangled mess that you can barely walk through. The thought of clearing them and keeping them clear of the brush and ground cover is very daunting.

But, I have come across a couple of interesting articles that talk about using pigs as clearing instruments. It is not like we can just let the pigs come in and clear it all up, but it seems that if we went in and did some manual clearing, selecting some trees to harvest and some to leave and knocking down some brush, we could then send in the troops ... err ... pigs to finish up the job and help turn those messes into savannah type ares.

In an article titled, "Virginia grazier Joel Salatin finds pigs can profitably create pasture from cut-over forest lands" from The Stockman Grass Farmer Joel Salatin is doing just this sort of thing to reclaim some areas that he has logged. The article says that Mr. Salatin's, "oldest pig pastures have volunteered into a mixture of perennial ryegrass and crabgrass. He doesn’t know where the seed came from and said the pig pastures are the only paddocks on his farm with perennial ryegrass." There is another upside to his pastured pig model ... he profits about $3,000 per acre selling this hogs directly to his customers. His pig pastures are about two acres in size and are split up into eight smaller paddocks with around 40 pigs in each pasture. The paddocks are divided by two strands of electric fence powered by solar fencers.

Another article I ran across the other day as I was reading the Homesteading Today Forums was an article by Joel Orcutt titled, "Hog Tractor (How To)". This is an interesting article that speaks to these "hog dozers" on a smaller level than Mr. Salatin. In this article Mr. Orcutt talks about using movable pens to eradicate weeds or prepare areas for gardens or other types of plantings. Again, the principle is the same ... the pigs will root up the area, spread manure, and prepare a seed bed.

This is something I am going to be discussing with my dad. Maybe we can get hogs on the farm a little more quickly with a model like this rather than waiting until I am out in the country. I do like to eat pork you know!


Hogleg said...

I will be watching this closely. I will need to clean out around 23 of the 40 acre Illinois parcel I just bought. I like the savanna idea. Want the large trees but don't like the thick underbrush. Don't want to run 100's of pigs to do it either, so a 10-20 pig targeted attack seems like an interesting idea. Wonder if we can try a 10 pig group on a 1/4 to 1/2 acre pen. Smaller than Joels approach but not down to the 2 pig pen either.

So many things to try, just need to get there. Still in Austin, Tx trying to sell the current home.


Hogleg said...

This is a good link...4-10 pigs at a time on 2000 sqft of ground.


Ethan Book said...

Hogleg ...

Thanks for checking out my blog. I talked with my dad about it this afternoon and we are going to be looking into some possibilities. Also, thanks for the link. I check out that blog quite a bit, but haven't read back that far yet. That does look like a great method.

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