Category Archives: Pigs

One feed, to feed them all

If you have been following us lately we have been adding numerous animals to our farm. Here is what we have to date. Most we want on pasture eating grass. But we do give them salt blocks and the treats to give additional nutrients not found in grass alone. This treats is a feed mix we make ourselves, but the same basic mix is put together and everyone can eat it. This is our first year doing this, so it is an experiment. After three months everyone seems to be doing well on it. We plan on experimenting with different mixes and combinations and as we learn more and refine the mix we will update everyone.

Why one mix? It lowers costs if animals cannot get out to pasture, or as a supplement to grass. If we didn’t give them the treats, they would me much harder to manage. We make sure, we show them the feed can, and shake it. We can get the llamas to come in from across the pasture, with just the can shaking. This is in no way the bulk of their diets. A coffee can 1/2 full to full for each species once a day if they get out on pasture, and twice a day if they are unable to forage.

It also reduces the risk of someone getting sick because they got the wrong feed mix. Since our youngest feeds animals regularly (5), and we have guests, and family help if they want to there are no accidents of giving an animal the wrong feed. Everyone can eat the base mix, and no additions can hurt anyone. Some species cannot tolerate certain feeds/supplements as easily as others.

What is in our feed mix?

Rather than give you all the nutritional details, I will like to a site which has them all for each component.  Feedipedia is a AWESOME site.

Base which is given to turkeys, ducks, chickens for meat, geese, and chickens for eggs.  It can also be given to the other animals as is, but they like a little extra in the mix. We purposely left soy out of the mix for now.  Yes it is a big source of protein if growing animals for meat, we know. The base also is easily spread using a hand broadcast seeder. This allows the birds space to eat, increases foraging skills, and there is no fighting over the feed bucket/pile.

1 part black oil sunflower seeds.  BOSS    16.6g protein   28.7 MJ/kg energy

2 parts cracked corn      9.4g protein    18.7  MJ/kg energy

2 parts oats   11.0g protein   19.5   MJ/kg energy

Averaging 11.5 g protein and 21.02 MJ/kg energy

Laying birds (ducks, chickens, turkeys, geese) get fee offering (as much as they want) crushed oyster shells.  They are also on open pasture/area daily so bugs, worms, grass, weeds whatever they find.

For the pigs, goats, sheep, and llamas they get

2 parts base mix 11.5 g protein  21.02 MJ/kg energy

1 part alfalfa pellets  18.2 g protein  18.2 MJ/kg energy

They also get salt blocks, llamas are on pasture daily, pigs get regular grass until pig area completed, and goats and sheep get free hay and pasture almost daily.

Rabbits are on pasture daily, and get supplement rabbit pellets. We are experimenting with different combinations for the rabbits.

  • Some things we learned, goats and sheep love rabbit pellets.
  • The pigs prefer grass to feed mix.
  • Rabbits who are raised on pasture from birth, eat far less pellets but take a bit longer to reach butcher weight.
  • Everyone eats mulberry leaves/young branches, all birds love the berries.

Some things we are hoping to experiment in the next year or years.

  • mulberry as an alternative feed
  • using mulberry to feed silkworms, harvest silk, worms are protein source
  • Black soldier fly larvae
  • Comfrey as a mineral replacement
  • locally sourced nuts as feeds
  • Different plant based proteins in the pastures such as cowpea, vetch,
  • rose of sharon
  • willow
  • More experimenting with the Fedipedia information
  • spent brewery grains

Mow your lawn? you can have pigs.

We recently added American Guinea Hogs to our list of animals. Until we can build them an enclosure in one of the pastures, they are happy hanging out in one of the barn stalls.  They love grass. Because of their diet there is almost no smell to them. Not what you typically experience with confined pigs. They drop, almost nuggets like horses, cows, and the goats. Not the soupy mess I have experienced from other operations. They talk to us each time we are around, and for the most part very easy going. Back to my point, about lawns. We have a push mower, and bagger. 1-2 strips on the lawn is enough for morning feeding, about 1/2 bag-3/4 loosely packed. Do it again in the evening, and they are good to go. But, but, but my lawn will be uneven….Um, who cares? By the time you NEED to mow again you will be back to your original spot. It is FREE food for pigs, who love it. Granted, not all areas allow pigs. But a 14’x30′ space in the barn is perfect if you don’t have room outside. They get treats, in the form of our universal feed mix, but really prefer the grass to anything else.

We now have piggies

This weekend we had three more new additions to our farm, three American Guinea Hogs. Burt (Reynolds), Dolly (Parton), and Sally (Fields) are full grown and will be our breeders. We should look to get bacon seeds by June/July sometime. The AGH is classified as threatened by the Livestock Conservancy. The bacon seeds will be for sale as piggies for your own farm, pets, or when they get bigger we will sell them whole and take to a butcher for you. They are only 50-100 lbs of meat, but lots of lard. Lard can be used for all those yummy baking dishes like grandma used to make. Our three prefer fresh grass over any kinds of feed we have provided them. The breeders and the bacon seeds will all be out on pasture. They are part of our rotation plan for the fields. To learn more about our animals visit the animals page.

Click on the images for larger pictures

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Kids went and picked grass from the field until the pigs can get out on pasture.