Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pasture For The Pigs

I am getting dangerously close to being able to announce that we have pigs on the farm, but I can't quite do that yet (keep checking back for more details soon). I have been reading as much on the subject of pigs as I can get my hands on though and I'm starting to get pretty excited about the possibility of pork for the family and for customers. It looks like we will have plenty of pork available this fall, but more about that later. For now I would like to share an article from the University of Missouri Extension titled, "Forages for Swine".

This article is from about fifteen years ago, but the information included is timeless. I would say that the authors, Howell N. Wheaton and John C. Rea, give a fairly unbiased assessment of pasture management for pigs. They take time to through out both the positives and negatives and seem to favor confinement farming in some circumstances (I don't really agree with that), but they also give some great information on what forages really work for pigs.

I think this is a good basic resource for those of us interested in pasturing pigs and I will certainly be turning to it next year when I begin to do some seeding on the farm. I would love to hear from any who is or has pastured pigs ... especially if you are planting certain grasses or legumes for your pastured pigs. Hopefully I can give some more first hand information very soon...


Steven said...

I was surprised that the article didn't mention any "alternative" forages other than rape. A guy at work was just talking about planting turnips for deer, I've heard of planting turnips, corn, peas etc. for pigs. I've pulled up all sorts of big leafy weeds, and a few corn stalks and thrown them to our 3 Red Wattles and they eat just about all of it. I even saw them dig up a thick piece of Johnson Grass that was buried in the horses bedding and start eating it. When they get a little bigger we want to try and pasture them.

Ambrose said...

You might also try these two websites: Missouri Swine Resource Guide and the Missouri Alternatives Center When you pull up the MAC click "Link List - Extension Information on Alternatives" then click "List of All Topics".

The Swine Resource Guide has a .pdf file about Outdoor Pig Production: An Approach that Works (IA) . Thought you might be interested in these.

Good luck, look forward to hearing more.

Rich said...

One of the problems with "alternative" forages is that they are usually single purpose and sometimes require purchase from outside seed sources.

You have commented before about planting tropical and OP corns to provide grazing for cattle. I would think that you could broadcast plant an OP corn, graze it to "finish" some of your cattle, then follow up with pigs to "hog down" what remains after the cattle.

You can plant a portion of the field in rows to grow your seed for next year, provide some organically grown grain for your pigs (harvested by the pigs if desired), and possibly even provide a source of corn meal for the table.

Sometimes something "conventional" is conventional for a reason, if managed unconventionally it might actually be a more versatile and "flexible" crop and forage than some of the "alternative" crops.

Unknown said...

Dad and I have been raising pigs on pasture in KY for about 7 years now, and the best pasture mix we have found is a turnip, rape, and a red clover mix. All of the seed can be bought locally (although you have to buy it every year) and we buy the cheapest seed varieties possible. We also plant a crop of OP corn (harvesting enough for seed next year) and the hogging it down in the winter after there is no other pasture. If you give them small patches of it at a time, supplemented with feed of course, you can make it last until Spring.

Wetterman said...

This is the first year that I plan on actually planting forages crops just for my Large Blacks and Red Wattles.

If anyone would like to share some practical knowledge on planting Turnips I would love to hear more.

I have had two brain tumors in the last 4 years and now that I am not working I need to figure out how to drop my feed bill.
You can reach me at

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