Thursday, March 10, 2011

Alternative Feeds?

If you've read my blog lately I'm sure you've noticed that the price of feed is something that has been on my mind a lot lately. When spring and summer gets here I'm hoping and expecting that my pigs will be getting a portion of their feed from the woods and pasture, but even then the prices (which may even keep rising) will have a huge impact on the farm.

A few posts ago I mentioned that I'm hoping to try some open-pollinated corn this year, but I'm interested in other options as well. I've been reading articles about feeding dried distillers grains ... I've been looking for alternative protein sources ... and I've been going back through some of the "pig" books that I have looking for ideas. But, I don't feel like I've come up with the right option.

I'm still looking for ideas though. If you have any tips or suggestions I would love to hear them ... and I'm sure others would as well!
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4 comments:

Melody said...

is there maybe a local restauant that might let you take food scrap off their hands? Might be one way to cut food costs.

Rich said...

I don't have any first hand experience with feeding pigs, but I have been thinking about adding different cover crops to our cropland rotations and some of that type of thought might apply to feeding your pigs.

There are a couple of online videos about cover crops at:

http://www.sare.org/publications/FromTheField_Forgey1.htm

http://www.sare.org/publications/FromTheField_Forgey2.htm

The first one deals with growing lentils, cowpeas, and turnips in a no-till system as a cover crop and then grazing with cattle. They are planting 10 lb. of lentils, 7 lb. of cowpeas, and 3 lb. of turnips per acre, which shouldn't be that expensive to purchase. And, they could be planted by discing the area, broadcasting the seed (possibly at a higher seeding rate), then lightly discing again.

Using the same basic idea with similar plants, the technique could be used in the spring for summer grazing or in the fall for winter grazing.

The second video deals with planting corn on 30" rows, then coming back and planting forage soybeans between the corn rows. Now fertilizer is applied, and the corn stubble and soybean forage can be baled for hay after corn harvest. Due to the soybean hay the protein levels are high enough to make some high quality hay.

Cowpeas (blackeye peas from the grocery store) could be substituted for the forage soybeans and planted in between your corn rows.

I have also read about a technique in which the corn is cultivated normally, then cowpeas are broadcast just before the last cultivation and the cultivation covers the seed which grows into a cover crop (or can be cut for hay after corn harvest or can be hogged down).

Any of the above ideas could be combined to suit your equipment, harvesting ideas, grazing ideas, etc. A certain amount of experimentation and "gambling" is going to be needed. Basically, you need to just start throwing some inexpensive seed (oats, wheat, turnips, pinto beans, blackeye peas, etc.) out there and see how it does.

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Whey from a local dairy. Our own hogs have thrived from the milk from our own organic dairy which is fed daily. The resulting pork has been greatly desired by the restaurants we sell to. Do you follow Walter Jeffries blog ? Its a must

Amy said...

Have you read Walter Jeffries blog? He feeds his pigs all sorts of interesting stuff found mostly locally on his farm and surrounding farms.

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