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Pigs like to root

Garth Brown |

Last year I wrote a blogpost about how I'd like my pigs to graze more than root. I'm not that happy with the state of my herd's grazing ability, but this disappointment is to be expected. I expected it because breeding for pigs that will exhibit grazing drive rather than rooting drive is a multi-generation process. Our first litters bred and farrowed here will arrive in August and September of this year, assuming Ranger has performed up to snuff. I'm holding out hope that next spring when I turn the piggies out to fresh pasture they will root less that this year's cohort.

Yes, all that brown in the photo above is from the pigs turning the sod. In retrospect I should have made their paddocks follow the contour of the hill rather than running up and down it. In future rotations across this part of the pasture I'm going to follow the contour more. Even with the paddocks oriented up and down the slope I haven't seen the soil washing away in the rain since there are still roots binding the turned clumps and I didn't use a disc to smooth things out once the pigs move onto fresh ground. Just to be safe on the erosion front though I'm going to let it regrow for a good long time before the pigs get to cross the same spot again.

Here's a close up of the paddock looking back the other way. Pigs' disruptive powers are amazing. It only takes them three days on a paddock to rip it up like that.

In the meantime, the pork from pigs that ate a diet of roots and forages is pretty delicious. One of the surest ways to make it into the breeding herd here is to exhibit a desire to graze, those that dedicate themselves to churning the earth head off to the slaughterhouse.


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