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Grazing Animals

Garth Brown |

The two primary species of animals moved from their winter quarters to fresh green fields a few weeks ago. When they're on pasture the cattle move to fresh grass every day. I'm still waiting for a number of calves to drop. They should come in the next two to three weeks.

It's marvelous to watch the cattle slick off their long winter coats and get all shiny and fat on pasture plants alone. I particularly love watching the new calves cavort with one another and set their mothers mooing when they wander too far from the herd (the young calves slip under the portable electric fence used to contain the cows for their daily break of grass).

My favorite two times of the year for grazing are May and the end of Sept/beginning of Oct. The temperatures are comfortable for me and the animals, there are few obnoxious flies, and the grass quality is at its peak. Spring grass is easy to get at high quality. With appropriate management autumn grass can be pretty good too.

Pigs on pasture are more work than cattle, at least for me under my management regime. They need shade on hot sunny days, the running gear wagon in the background supplies it in this case. They need a place to wallow for their skin health. They'll happily make a wallow so long as I provide the water. And I'm supplementing them with whey, which requires a long run off polypropelene pipe.

I've sung a sorrowful dirge on this blog about the amount of rooting my pigs have done and continue to do... readily apparent back by the wagon there... but I have hope. We have three new members of the sounder (did you know that is the word for a group of pigs?). Thus far they've exhibited a significantly greater interest in grazing than any of the other hogs I've owned. The newbies are Gloucesteshire Old Spot (GOS to pig folk) and GOS crosses, not the tamworth or hereford x duroc x red wattles featured here. I speculate grazing inclination may have to do with a less powerful rooting instinct. I often see the rooty pigs nosing their neighbors in the armpit with a sort of nodding motion reminiscent of the jaw-dig movement, but I have yet to witness any of the new three do it. I'm lined up to take delivery of another group of pigs in about a month. I'm curious to see how they behave.


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