Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: keeping pigs in a forest  (Read 17363 times)

GenghisChris

  • Joined Apr 2008
keeping pigs in a forest
« on: April 17, 2008, 05:44:58 pm »
HI guys, I still have to check the rights of way in some forest I own (3 acres over 2 plots)

I wondered has anyone tried keeping pigs in a heavily wooded area? Obviously shelter and fencing will be built. The way I'm looking at it is it is a much more natural enviroment for them and would free up my other land for horticulture/agriculture.

I should point out this land is in Austria and I have yet to confirm that it would be ok, but I'm still interested in peoples views.

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: keeping pigs in a forest
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2008, 06:31:10 pm »
Hi, I haven't tried it and I'm a much less experienced pig keeper than many on this forum, but I would think that woodland would be a great place to keep pigs - it's their natural habitat.

I can remember years ago, when I was at University, going to the College farms and seeing an "experiment" where a handful of commercial Landrace x Large White gilts were turned out in a woodland, with a boar. Within days, they had built nests and wallows and were completely at home, so it's all there, even in domestic pigs.

Jayhawk

  • Joined Apr 2008
  • Duns
Re: keeping pigs in a forest
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2008, 08:06:21 pm »
We had 2 Berkshires and the farmer had 3 saddlebacks. We ran them together in woodland with access to a small grass field. They loved it. Interestingly they spent a lot of the time digging up the field :) Woodland gives them a bit of everything. Shade, shelter, sunlight, digging ground, surface feeding....
Good luck with whatever you decide.
Old age is a privilege denied to too many

Farmer Giles

  • Joined Dec 2007
Re: keeping pigs in a forest
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2008, 06:15:25 am »
When Mrs. DeVere decided to go 'walkabout' several weeks ago she was found lauding it up in a wood without a care.

She was happy rooting around under the trees for nuts, acorns and the like, had built a nest, created several wallow's and was as happy as a pig could be. The only thing she didn't have was a T.V. and a dvd player to be able to watch past episodes of Pinky & Perky and a cocktail cabinet!!!

Pigs living in a forest??? What could be better.

Hilarysmum

  • Joined Oct 2007
Re: keeping pigs in a forest
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2008, 07:44:16 am »
 :pig: :'(  You forgot MISS PIGGY from the Muppets.

Ayeskint

  • Joined Feb 2008
  • Fife, Central Scotland
Re: keeping pigs in a forest
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2008, 08:31:43 pm »
Hi there, we have some Tamworths in fenced areas in our woodland.  They do love the shade but they also love digging and chewing at the bark and at the roots, our big beeches in one of their runs now has pallets round them to protect the roots.  The other run that they have has some old hawthorn trees in it and these are slowly being dug up.  I guess my point is that if they are confined in an area with trees be prepared for some damage.  (Our pig runs are not small and are certainly not pig sty size).  We also had a stone retaining wall that they gradually demolished, relocating the stone to elsewhere in the run.  They are natures tractors right enough.  I couldn't believe the size of the stones that they could move.

Carol

Tony.K

  • Joined Jan 2008
Re: keeping pigs in a forest
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2008, 12:42:14 pm »
Just a word of caution to check first, If thetre is Fern there and it is in its early growing stage ie shooting again for the new year it will kill your pigs within 4 hours if they eat it, When it is shooting it is highly toxic,  Once the vigorous growth stage is over it is not harmful to pigs and in fact they will dig it up and eat the roots/
Beware as it is a horrible death for the pigs where poison comes out of every orifice possible, not a pleasant site to see,
tony

Hilarysmum

  • Joined Oct 2007
Re: keeping pigs in a forest
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2008, 06:21:02 pm »
Tony again can you quote your sources?

Quoting from Black's Veterinary Dictionary -

"The eating of bracken (Pteris aquilina) by horses, cattle or sheep may lead to serious illness and death; symptoms appearing a month or two after the first meal of the plant.  The llness lasts from 1 to 6 days.  Although in some cases death may occur sooner, and be accompanied by bleeding from nose and anus.

Symptoms vary including faeces, passed without straining are usually blod stained.  Respirations are accelerated. 

PREVENTION: Bracken is usually eaten only when no other food is available; avoid the situation in which animals turn to bracken out of sheer hunger or thirst."

There is a lot more about sheep, cattle and horses eating this, however it appears according to my book that its very, very rare in pigs.  I suppose as the woods are their natural environment, and they have been around for longer than man, they may have learned that bracken is not on the porcine good food guide.

« Last Edit: May 02, 2008, 06:49:34 pm by Hilarysmum »

resistance is fertile

  • Joined Apr 2008
Re: keeping pigs in a forest
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2008, 08:11:04 pm »
All of our pigs live in the woods.

We have four large pens (approx 1 acre each) which they rotate through. We sow behind them with an understory and wild flower mix as well as a kale and stubble turnip mixture. Combined with ever present comfrey and garlic this keeps them fairly happy.

We have loads of ferns but they leave them

Wildman

  • Joined Apr 2008
Re: keeping pigs in a forest
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2008, 06:48:56 pm »
I keep 6 pigs in our woods, 25ft tall Christmas trees. They have lots to eat like loads of Qs and Bananas. They never seem to attack the trees however I do hope they would not get any harm from them. They have been in there for about 8 weeks now. They are eating great and drinking good as well. IO did put a posting on this site asking if anyone knew if it would be OK but little responce however I would like to thank the ones taht did.

resistance is fertile

  • Joined Apr 2008
Re: keeping pigs in a forest
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2008, 12:07:21 pm »
MRree thanks for message, once i had replied I realised it might be useful info!

Regarding 'understorey' we sow this mix behind the pigs:

5% common bentgrass
5 % crested dogstail
10% smaller catstail
15% sheeps fescue
20% red fescue
5 % wild white clover
10% late flowering red clover
4 % alsike clover
4% birdsfoot trefoil
10% sainfoin
8% common vetch
4% yellow trefoil

At the same time we sow a mix of

30% mustard
30% kale
40% Stubble radish

and a good splash of

wild garlic
cowslip
lady’s bedstraw
lesser knapweed
ox-eye daisy
meadow buttercup
meadowsweet
ragged robin
ribwort plantain
self heal
yellow rattle

we also stick in jerusalem artichokes and comfrey whenever we have any spare as they seem to keep coming back all the stronger when theyve been ploughed in by the pigs.

This may seem a hassle, but its all cheap seed and we feep big bags ready mixed, the woods look great and are full of insects and birds and most of all it avoids us having to buy in any food for the pigs as it keeps the fodder coming and biodiversity up. As time goes on less seed is required to re-establish.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2008, 06:38:07 pm by resistance is fertile »

Hilarysmum

  • Joined Oct 2007
Re: keeping pigs in a forest
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2008, 02:57:34 pm »
That sounds really interesting, do you achieve a good slaughter weight on this?  We find that although the pigs clear the ground totally, once it is rested it quickly rejuvenates.  Have tried growing beteraves in the fields, this works to a limited extent, but I am no gardener so anything that grows is a bonus.


Tony.K

  • Joined Jan 2008
Re: keeping pigs in a forest
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2008, 06:22:37 pm »
Tony again can you quote your sources?
From the top pig stockmen in u.k. who have had it happen to them and also through personal experience
Whilst not all fern is the same when it is growing it's new shoots that is when it is at it's most dangerous.
unfortunatly the blacks Vetrinary dictionary is so vague in that it is saying this could happen or this might happen, I think they are scooting around the issue as they do not know the answer
Unless the book is written by Specialist Pig vetrinarians it isnt worth the paper it is wrote on.
Also the majority of top vetrinarians are now consulting the breeders who no what they are on about before putting pen to paper.
Regards
tony


Quoting from Black's Veterinary Dictionary -

"The eating of bracken (Pteris aquilina) by horses, cattle or sheep may lead to serious illness and death; symptoms appearing a month or two after the first meal of the plant.  The llness lasts from 1 to 6 days.  Although in some cases death may occur sooner, and be accompanied by bleeding from nose and anus.

Symptoms vary including faeces, passed without straining are usually blod stained.  Respirations are accelerated. 

PREVENTION: Bracken is usually eaten only when no other food is available; avoid the situation in which animals turn to bracken out of sheer hunger or thirst."

There is a lot more about sheep, cattle and horses eating this, however it appears according to my book that its very, very rare in pigs.  I suppose as the woods are their natural environment, and they have been around for longer than man, they may have learned that bracken is not on the porcine good food guide.



resistance is fertile

  • Joined Apr 2008
Re: keeping pigs in a forest
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2008, 06:50:15 pm »
Hilarysmum wrote:

do you achieve a good slaughter weight on this?

We normally kill to achieve around 50-60kg deadweight, but are looking at going a bit smaller as more oredrs are coming in requesting slightly smaller joints and also the parma hams would be easier with lighter leg!

The pigs tend to reach this weight in around 6 months, but the beauty of the system is there is no pressure for them to fatten quickly as the overheads just dont really cause a problem.

We are growing supplementary food in the form of a root break (mangolds, fodder beet, swede) and a higher protein mixed corn, oat, bean and pea crop. (this goes to the poultry too).The horticultural area also provides alot of food that would otherwise just be compost material.

The cost of commercially milled pig food is ridiculous and this in tern seems to keep pork prices uneccessarily high, so we are pleased to be able to sell ours more reasonably due to the lack of external inputs.

Hilarysmum

  • Joined Oct 2007
Re: keeping pigs in a forest
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2008, 08:03:18 am »
Thanks RIF thats fascinating.


 

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