Monday, August 10, 2015

Produce fed Hogs - a new approach

There are two main ways to feed hogs today... commercial hog feed or "scraps".

Commercial hog feed comes in lots of varieties, all intended to meet the nutritional needs of the animal at the lowest possible cost. In other words... they are formulated to "just barely" have enough nutrition for health.  Companies that produce these feeds do a lot of study on exactly hat the minimum needs are, to meet them without going over.   There is nothing necessarily wrong with this approach, as long as the nutritionist that produced the feed formula truly does understand hogs. The farmer is depending on the company to know what the hogs need and provide just that.

The other approach common in smaller operations is feeding hat amount to scraps or leftovers. This could be the non human edible produce from a garden, leftovers from a restaurant or grocery store, spent grains from brewing, Basically any semi edible food that is cheap and would otherewise go to waste.

We use both approaches from time to time. We have the commercial feed  from scratch and peck that is a soy free , organic, non-gmo whole feed.  But we use this sparingly. Then we collect scraps when available from a variety of organic sources.  But this is hit and miss.  We also provide a steady supply of greens (weeds) from gardening and on open pasture.  But, alas, that list of things is not enough to feed the number of hogs we now have (50 to 100).  So we needed a new idea to both save money and provide deep nutrition.

Enter.. produce. Fresh grown organic heirloom produce. We actually started a garden primarily for the hogs. Its not that the hogs get what isnt human useable... no.. these hogs get the first pickings, the best produce we can produce. Not scraps, but real food!

Summer time means zuchinni, pumpkin, beets. cucumber, melons. corn, etc. The things we can grow and feed on a continual basis.  As of right now, we harvest about nine to ten 40 gallon barrels  twice a week of these things.  That provides over half of the total feed for the hogs. Then we fill in with sprouted grain and commercial feed, plus the weeds from the garden or pasture.

Winter time we plant moistly roots and cold hardy plants... beets, carrots, rutabagas, kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, turnips, etc. These items allow us to harvest continually for most of hte winter, because they over winter in the ground.

You see, we debated about how long we can keep pumpkins for winter feeding, dehydrating zucchini to last through winter, etc. But then we realized.. why go to all that trouble when the ground itself is a great storage spot! Just grow the roots, leave them in the ground to slowly grow  until time to feed!  Low maintenance , low cost, no energy food storage!

Nutritionally this is optimum for hte hogs, because they get a true variety of fresh produce, grown right. We are not dependent on any single nutritionist or company to determine what our hogs need to survive. These hogs eat like they would in the wild, opportunistically browsing through whatever they find.

So next time your enjoying a Little Sprouts English Banger sausage, feel secure that our hogs are not fed a "formula"developed in a lab, nor are the fed leftovers or garbage... the hogs that produce that sausage are fed the best of hte best, locally grown fresh organic produce, grown just for them!

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