Pigs as tractors

Discussion in 'Breeding, Raising, Feeding and Caring for Animals' started by purplepear, Nov 21, 2009.

  1. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    We had a go at using pigs as tractors specifically to get rid of nut grass brought in by flood water. This was some years ago and the excersise was deemed to have been unsucessful as the pigs culd not be sold on as meat after they had done their work because the protein load in their diet could not be maintained.

    Has anyone comments of successful models of pig tractoring or ethical sources of protien for their diet?
    regards
     
  2. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Re: Pigs as tractors

    Perhaps you could hire or Loan them out to other Permies... Pigs make good pets as well as Workers or food.

    I have often considered keeping a herd of goats and reverse adjisting them (Hireing them out as weed eaters along creek banks or in paddocks etc). Not to make proftit, just to cover transporting costs etc. Anything to assist in eliminating the need for Chemicals.
     
  3. janahn

    janahn Junior Member

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    Re: Pigs as tractors

    PIGS ARE NICHE CREATURES. THEY ARE ONLY USEFUL WHEN IN THEIR NATURAL ENVIRONMENT, OR WHEN IN SOMETHING SIMILAR CONSTRUCTED BY HUMANS FOR THEM.

    WWW.JANAHN.COM.AU
     
  4. ppp

    ppp Junior Member

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    Re: Pigs as tractors

    not much experience with pigs, except watching the wild ones for a bit.
    What if you continued to feed them in a pen where they can attach the nut grass as well.. i get the impression the "rooting" digging the ground up is part for food part 'cause they like it?
     
  5. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    Re: Pigs as tractors

    Yeah but mum objects to having them in the house.
    Not sure if you are yelling at me, janahn, or if your caps lock is stuck on. I would love for you to expand on "niche creatures" and "pigs natural environment" and what we can do to construct "something similar" - these seem to be the pieces of information I need to get a handle this.
    Yes ppp they work well on nut grass, an area where they have been is still clear of the very invasive plant. I need to take it further to complete the loop to a wholly productive animal though the pet thing has some appeal there may be useful suggestions out there on fattening for market without wasting huge amounts of organic eggs.
    These questions are left over from a venture before I took up eating cheese sandwiches and in reality I would not contemplate producing an animal for food any more unless it was a sustainable and humane process. None-the=less It is a worthwhile topic for this new forum IMHO.
     
  6. Tegs

    Tegs Junior Member

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    Re: Pigs as tractors

    My experiences with pigs is very limited. However we managed to raise some very well fed pigs on pasture purely for the dinner table. They were fed a commercial grower pellet as well as a variety of nuts, fruits and veg. We found that they loved to root around for tasty morsels no matter how well fed they were. After six months of keeping the pigs we had well manured & turned land and delicious pork. As I said my experience is very limited but our first pig endeavour was a positive one and we will definitely do it again. We are trying to come up with new and inventive ways to harness their piggy powers for good and not evil :)
     
  7. permasculptor

    permasculptor Junior Member

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    Re: Pigs as tractors

    I have read somewhere that pigs can be used to break up hollow logs by putting food in them which led me to wonder if they would dig swales if you drilled the ground then baited the holes .anyone tried this?
     
  8. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    Re: Pigs as tractors

    I know this permasculptor - that pigs love potatoes and I was thinking that if you were to first plant potatoes then let the pigs in after harvest they would do this marvelous job
     
  9. greenfarmers

    greenfarmers Junior Member

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    Re: Pigs as tractors

    Morning,

    Joel Salatin (Polyface farm) uses pigs as part of the balance and income stacking on his farm and to create pasture from cut-over forest land.

    The main reference I have read is in the book Salad Bar Beef (on loan to someone at the mo), but here is some info from a quick search:

    At the start Salatin used the pigs as "pigerators" in his wintering barns. He says " The heart of our farm is compost which we make from feeding cows hay in the winter. We add bedding under the cows because they are dropping 50 lb. of goodies out of their back end everyday. That bedding builds up and ferments through the winter and is actually warm. We add corn with every new layer of bedding. That bedding builds up to three or four feet deep and we take the cows out in the spring and we put in the pigs. Pigs have a big sign across their foreheads: “Will Work For Corn.” They go for that fermenting corn buried down in that bedding pack. They flip that whole big layered bedding pack upside down, oxygenating it and making aerobic compost. The animals do all the work."

    Salatin sold those pigs, but found he could not keep up with demand so he then diversified and found pigs can profitably create pasture from cut-over forest lands: https://www.stockmangrassfarmer.net/cgi- ... cgi?id=663

    Possibly also of interest:
    https://www.polyfacefarms.com
    https://www.stockmangrassfarmer.net/cgi- ... cgi?id=533

    Salatin also has a rather fun and inspiring book called "Everything I want to do is illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front"..

    Heidi
     
  10. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    Re: Pigs as tractors

    I love Joels work and he features in the "omnivours delema" too

    Do you think, greenfarmers, that the pigs were market ready after the corn? Polyface are renouned for their flesh market especially pork and chickens.

    It may be worth another topic but did you hear that he follows cattle with chickens but not straight away as he allows enough time for fly maggots to appear so the chooks get their protein and spread the manure at the same time?

    Thanks for the reminder Hiedi I will get back in touch with Joels work
    regards
     
  11. greenfarmers

    greenfarmers Junior Member

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    Re: Pigs as tractors

    Hi Mark,

    Love the greenfarmerslook!

    The second article https://www.stockmangrassfarmer.net/cgi- ... cgi?id=533 has a pretty good run down of what he does, but no, it isn't clear if he can finish on the corn. He talks more about buying in heavier, so the bears don't get them, then finishing on savanna - ie pasture, after only checking them twice a week. That article has some nice detail, but Salatin is great at explaining how he does things so I'm sure a short search of the net will reveal. From memory, I think he said the pigs were easier than the cattle which I thought was interesting.

    We loved his idea of the chickens following the cows to eat the fly larvae - I would have loved to have tried it out, but wasn't game because of our foxes and wedgetail eagles. He talks about using heritage chicken breeds Because in his opinion they run more on instrict and are not as 'stupid' as the hybrids, which is unfortunately what we bought before we knew better. Terrain was also a challenge to us - he pulls his "egg mobiles" around with a tractor I think. Joel is also the one who pioneered using a wind-up alarm clock (releasing a string to a hatch) to let the hens out each morning.

    Amazing man, amazingly inspiring farm and ideas for income stacking. Omnivore's dilemma is a book I have been trying to get my hands on for a while (banned from buying more books till funds rebuild!), but am reading Michael Pollan's In Defence of Food which should be compulsory to all!

    H
     
  12. Dalzieldrin

    Dalzieldrin Junior Member

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    Re: Pigs as tractors

    I've been thinking about getting some piggies as part of a rotation with some other large animal (beef or sheeps maybe)

    but in the wake of the mad cow problem the authorities are quite clear that animals (and i'm thinking pigs here) MUST NOT be fed swill...by which i mean feed that contains material from other animals (like meat)

    but does faeces from other animals fall under the same 'banner' as things that would constitute components of 'swill' ?
    - in which case...is one breaking the law by having a pig snuffle through a paddock where, say, cow or sheep, or even a chook has been 'moving'?
     
  13. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Re: Pigs as tractors

    Thats a good question...
     
  14. Dalzieldrin

    Dalzieldrin Junior Member

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    Re: Pigs as tractors

    I wonder if anyone's got a good answer??
     
  15. ppp

    ppp Junior Member

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    Re: Pigs as tractors

    who cares if it's "illegal" or not.
    Putting one animal in a place after another sounds like a very innocent act.. and I can't see how anyone could do anything about it.
     
  16. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Re: Pigs as tractors

    Thats a Great answer !
     
  17. Dalzieldrin

    Dalzieldrin Junior Member

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    Re: Pigs as tractors

    fair enough - but i think it's worth considering

    it's not inconceivable that one's local council will only allow land to have animals if a plan is lodged that shows that animals will not be rotated through paddocks where other animals have crapped. and you have to back that up with a site inspection.

    far-fetched? maybe yes, maybe no? if yes, hot water!

    but forget the legality side of it...what if that rotation of this nature is a contributing factor to 'incubating' the next zoonotic episode, the next mad cow type outbreak?

    there are people on this board who get very hot under the collar over the subject of bioaccumulation of 'chemicals' in the environment

    I would hate to think that one is evil because monsanto is involved but one can turn a blind eye to the other because "it's permaculture, therefore it must be okay"
     
  18. greenfarmers

    greenfarmers Junior Member

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    Re: Pigs as tractors

    The question remains!

    Have no answer, but as Purple Pear mentioned, the same farmer who uses the pigs also uses chickens to comb through the cow pats in the paddock and eat the fly larvae, so controlling his fly problem ...maybe it's ok because the pigs/chooks are not eating the flesh of the other animals. And for what it's worth, his meat and farm are known world-wide for their excellence.

    BSE also has another interesting aspect. British establishment has liked to play up the link between animals being fed other animals -and I am not disputing the wrongness of this - however in the late eighties an organic farmer called Mark Purdey also did some work which showed a clear link between pour-on organophosphate insecticide and BSE type conditions. This is not likely to be something accepted by mainstream without a fight - imagine the compensation!

    Purdey was a fascinating man whose interest in the disease was triggered when four cows he purchased for his farm developed the disease, though no animal raised on his farm ever contracted it. In the late eighties his initial self-funded research suggested the cause of BSE might be Phosmet, which was being spread along the spines of intensively farmed cows to eradicate warble fly. He went on to win a High Court challenge again the British Government's compulsory warble fly pour-on eradication program, successfully arguing the organophosphate disturbed the balance of metals in the animals' brains, giving rise to the misfolded proteins called prions that are regarded as the cause of BSE. His later research indicated that a combination of high manganese and low copper in the soil, together with high environmental oxidizing agents, might "initiate a self-perpetuating free radical mediated neurodegenerative disease process (e.g., a TSE) in susceptible genotypes."

    We were lucky enough to visit his farm in Pembrokeshire and watch him playing saxaphone to his herd of cows, as the sun set over the a dreamlike hillside setting. Unfortunately Purdey died in 2006 (from a brain tumour interestingly) - but he did write a fascinating book called AnimalPharm about the whole environmental poison issue.

    https://www.markpurdey.com/ has more.

    Heidi
     
  19. SueinWA

    SueinWA Junior Member

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    Re: Pigs as tractors

    The answer of one species acquiring diseases/parasites of another might be found by matching up what diseases they have in common, and how many.

    A couple who bought five acres that was on the road to my job brought in two young piglets to plow their garden area. The youngsters did a fine job, and then they disappeared. I happened to see the owners near the gate one day, so I stopped and asked if they butchered them that young (they were still fairly small when they disappeared). They said no, not yet. They had transported them to a friend's place that had 25 acres of large oak trees. The gentleman said that when he lived elsewhere, a couple of their pigs got away and ran wild in the oak forest. When they finally caught them, they had apparently been living mostly on acorns, and when butchered in fall, outweighed their grain-fed pigs by 25%, and the meat was the best he'd ever eaten. So he provided his friend two pigs, and they each would get one when they were grown.

    Around here, white oaks are native.

    Sue
     
  20. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Re: Pigs as tractors

    Most NZ farmers (and Oz ones too I assume) are in trouble then. It's pretty normal to let animals of different species graze in the same paddock - horses, sheep, cows...
     

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