As Ed and I were putting the rest of the pigs into their hoops this morning we were having our bimonthly conversation about the merits of various feeding programs. It was on my mind because of the Lancaster Ag magazine that recently arrived in my mailbox.
I like Lancaster Ag, and all of the products I’ve purchased from them have been high quality, though a few of their animal and personal health items, which I admittedly don’t have firsthand experience with, make me a bit skeptical. (I’m looking at you Dr. Olree’s Grand Unified Organic Mineral Complex.)
But what caught my attention in the feed section was the suggestion that you, the producer, use hog feed as a free choice supplement to pasture or other roughage. Specifically, I think “supplement” is a misleading word. I don’t have a specific number in mind, but I think a supplement should not provide the bulk of a diet’s calories. A pig - at least all of the ones I’ve ever seen - will not conscientiously stick to a diet of leafy green with just a few mouthfuls of grain as a treat.
It would be an interesting experiment or series of experiments to see the maximum amount of forage pigs can be convinced to consume while having unlimited ration available. I suspect that they’d willingly use a good bit of their stomach space on a very lush, very high quality sward, but I doubt that it would ever make up even half their total intake. Of course, I could be wrong, and I’d love to read any studies/hear about any relevant experiences.