October 29, 2012 at 5:37 pm #16805
I would love to hear from anyone in a brittle climate such as mine (SW Montana, less that 15″ rainfall per year), how they recover pasture that hogs have rooted in when there is no grass. This is my first year w the Large Blacks, i’ve had two since June. There was little rooting when grass was plentiful. This was an exceptionally dry year, but even in normal years, there are probably 8 – 10 weeks of the year or more in which there is nothing green in the pastures but neither is there snow cover. We are in the midst of that time now, and have recently had some moisture so the ground is soft. The hogs are going crazy rooting and snuffling and digging. I will have to reseed and irrigate to get this area back into pasture. Does everyone have this problem? Is it mainly in a dry climate such as this when there are long periods w/o forage? Are nose rings an option? Any thoughts would be helpful. I’m feeling very discouraged about the whole venture at this point, although the gilts are as happy as can be.
Thanks!October 29, 2012 at 6:28 pm #18252
In my experience the younger animals will tear things up more than an adult. However, when there is little grass cover they will take a look for other thing to eat. They all root to some extent especially when the ground is wet after the grass has gone. We had a similar issue when we lived in MT, but we found that they settled down as they aged. We also found that out of all of the breeds we raised the LBs rooted less as adults.
Stick with it 🙂
RichardOctober 29, 2012 at 7:03 pm #18264
Thank you Mr. President.
What are your thoughts on the use of nose rings to prevent rooting.
At about what age did you notice the decline in rooting?
Thank you!October 29, 2012 at 8:56 pm #18267Member: MO
I’ll add to Richard’s comments by asking some more questions.
Are you rotating frequently? When we were in MT I know this was really the KEY especially if they were on smaller pastures. Sometimes we had to move the pigs every 3-4 days.
Are you feeding hay yet? If not this may prevent the rooting as they will root through this.
We have never had to ring a Large Black yet. I have to admit I am surprised that your two are doing so much damage. Do you have a wooded area to put them in? We still have the sister of one of yours & feeders from that litter & they are in with a group (9) who do have some grass & a section of woods. They have dug themselves a wallow & where they feed & along the fence line where we feed is bare but that is to be expected.
I know there are supposed to be humane nose rings out there but I don’t know anything about them. Pigs do need the minerals from the soil. In fact a guy who raises pigs in Vermont digs up several 5 gallon buckets of soil to give to his pigs through the snow covered months.
I hope your two girls start behaving themselves soon!
LizOctober 29, 2012 at 9:17 pm #18261
Yes i’m feeding them hay, some really nice leafy alfalfa, and have been for about 2 weeks. I’m not moving them that often, maybe every few weeks. Their enclosures are fairly large, maybe about 10,000 square feet on average, and the chickens wander in and out and really clean up the poop. When they were grazing i was moving them more often, whenever they seemed bored and started to think about rooting, and that was probably about every 4-5 days. I don’t have that much in the way of woods. Most of the green times they had some big poplars in their enclosures, and they loved getting in there and doing their thing.Its sort of a catch-22 right now because i don’t want them to tear anything else up; I would rather let them destroy where they are as i’m going to have to reseed it in the spring anyway.
In your climate are you finding that you have to do any reseeding of perennial pasture? Do you ever grow an annual crop just for their grazing purposes? Are you rotating your sheep through the same pastures that you are using for the pigs?
I’m hoping one of my neighbors that has about 3 acres in vegetables might let me put them in there for a few weeks or until winter really sets in. I know they”d love that, and the grower might like the extra tilling help.
Regarding the nose ring:at this point i’d rather have to serve them some soil they can slop up for their mineral needs and be able to keep my pastures in good shape. As you may recall, weeds are a tremendous threat here, and any disturbed ground that isn’t carefully dealt with is immediately colonized by annual or perennial weeds.
Thanks for your thoughts. Any others always appreciated.October 31, 2012 at 3:10 am #18263Member: MO
LOL! We are very good at growing weeds! (Sage brush was really bad on some of our acreage in MT & the pigs would not touch it!) Richard & I were just walking the milk cow back tonight & looking at the wonderful weeds growing in the pasture due to some Hampshires we had here when we first moved. (Hamps are rototillers!) They completely destroyed one part of our pasture. We never reseeded it so now it is weedy! The soil is not that great here in the Ozarks – it grows a lot of rocks!
Earlier this year we overseeded two pastures. It then proceed to rain extremely heavilyy & then in came the drought so most of that seed did not make it 🙁 A little disheartening. We have lots of ideas on seeding, growing cover crops etc BUT have yet to do them. BUT this year was a rough one due to the drought so hoping another year will be better.
Yes the sheep doe go in some of the same pastures as the pigs depending on what the grass is like. We have just had our first frost so no more grass will grow now & what is out there is pretty low. Sheep are already on hay at night & the cows will be on hay in about another week which is early for here.
Some folks use “sacrifice” pastures for wintering. The only animals we do that with are the cows – they stay in one pasture once we start feeding hay. The pigs though stay wherever they are – the grass seems to grow back. We have Bermuda grass down here which is extremely drought tolerant but doesn’t like the cold. That was the only grass that grew here this summer & the pigs & sheep love it. It spreads like carpet & is very invasive but has actually done us a favor.
SO yes I would leave the girls where they are for the winter – sacrifice that pasture & then start rotating again next spring. They will be fine in the one pasture all winter. As for us, we still have a LOT to learn regarding pasture management. It all takes time but we will get there – one day!
All the best,
LizNovember 3, 2012 at 12:06 am #18255
Hi Sas, I am very diligent of keeping the pigs off of the pasture when it is wet. We have paddocks in the woods to close them in there when the pasture is wet. We also make sure they have adequate and good forage when they are on pasture and this greatly reduces rooting. Our mature pigs rarely root at all and I keep the younger ones on less prime pasture until they get a little age on them and I can observe their behavior and know when to move them onto good pasture. We have been trying different forages and giving the pigs a variety keeps them very happy, full and occupied so they aren’t rooting. Jean RouillardJanuary 23, 2013 at 10:20 pm #18315
Has anyone heard of a type of charcoal you can give to hogs to keep them from rooting so much? Evidently, they root because they are missing nutrients and the charcoal gives that to them, so less rooting. Someone told me this- I don’t know if this is true or even what kind of charcoal to get.January 25, 2013 at 2:13 am #18310Member: WI
I believe if you were to offer trace minerals free choice would be a better option. I had an LB producer tell me that when his sows started rooting he would give them trace minerals free choice, and it soon took care of the problem. They may eat alot of them at first, but once their needs are met, they won’t eat as much. The wisdom of the pig is quite amazing. Sometimes we forget in our enthusiasm to feed minimal amounts of grain that pigs, especially breeding stock need added vitamins and minerals. A well managed pasture with proper rotation and fertility goes a long way, but that is the optimum scenario. Pigs “may eat anything” but that does not mean they are getting adequate and balanced nutrition. These are true heritage hogs, but there is much to learn from “conventional hog production” as far as nutritional needs. I have raised pigs all ways possible over 25 years and I am still learning, especially with pasture pigs that are heritage hogs. HarveyFebruary 23, 2013 at 6:12 pm #18370
I have minerals that I feed free choice to my cows and calves. Would this be ok to give to the pigs as well. Do they need a specific pig formulated mineral?February 24, 2013 at 12:21 pm #18371Member: WI
Unfortunately there has not been much research done on trace minerals for pigs that I a aware of, nor many companies that specialize in hog minerals or can answer questions about their trace minerals. Many times they do just recommend what they sell, not knowing for sure. In dairy country where I live, there are numerous choices, but some may contain ingredients that I’m not sure I would give my pigs. Some ruminant trace mineral packages do have things in them pigs shouldn’t have.
That said, there is a product called Redmond Conditioner (Organic approved) that can be used for pigs, as well as other species. Not sure who all sells it, but at risk of endorsing a company, I do know that The Fertrell Company in PA. does handle it. You can look at it at http://www.fertrell.com/redmondconditioner.htm. Also the people at Fertrell are good about answering nutritional questions.
The other issue here, do you incorporate in any feed you feed, or give free choice? If free choice, they may eat a bunch for a short period of time before satisfying their needs. Plus, you need to have a “mineral box” that they do not waste it, and that does not catch all the rain. One may have to be a bit innovative for your conditions.February 27, 2013 at 4:19 am #18369
We always use Redmond Conditioner. It works for all animals including sheep and pigs. If you go to the Redmond website you can find a dealer. We free feed it, but sometimes the pigs like to cover themselves in it because it is cool! You can add it to their food if you like, but don;t over feed it.