WillowSedge Farm

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The Pigs

We run a small farrow-to-finish operation. This means that we have a breeding herd of sows and boars, the piglets are born here, and live their entire lives here until they are butchered. The sows are a mixed breed: a cross of Hampshire, Duroc, and Yorkshire. Our current boar, "Jack," is Hampshire.

hoophouse for hogs

hoophouse in pen when ready to rotate into garden

The pigs live in large pens with hoop-house shelters. They are free to roam within those pens, and to eat grass and weeds and to root around in the soil. A pig snout is an amazingly strong digging tool. In summer, the pigs go into pens that housed weaned calves during the winter. The pigs will turn over and compost the hay that the calves trampled. There is no waste, of course, because any hay that falls to the ground uneaten becomes fertilizer as it breaks down and releases nutrients back to the soil. After a couple of years of pig action, the pen is ready to rotate out of animals and into vegetable garden.

Sows on my farm are not put in crates when they are farrowing (giving birth). They go into their own private hut where they have room to move around and hay or straw bedding to build themselves a nest. In cold weather the newborn piglets snuggle down between their mother's big belly and the sidewall of the straw nest, and stay warm.

Harmony with litter of piglets in outdoor shelter
butcher hogs in pen

Piglets stay with their mother for six to eight weeks, depending on the size of the litter and the condition of the sow. After the piglets are weaned away from their mother, it takes another four months for them to grow to slaughter weight.

Pigs are fed a custom feed ration that includes corn, soybean meal, and a vitamin blend. When available, I also feed whole grains purchased from local farmers. The pigs also eat green grass and clover in their pens, grass roots that they dig up, and some of their hay bedding, especially in winter.

Chickens | Pigs
Goats | Cows
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