SWFC is not only focused on cattle and sheep! In late November, SWFC’s Anna Heaton met up with a new pasture pig group to discuss raising pigs on pasture–and specifically how to make the most of home-grown forage
Anna Heaton visited Horton House Dairy near Devizes, Wiltshire, to meet up with owners, Jonny and Rachel Rider, as well as Ian Boyd and Dale Webb from Whittington Lodge Farm, and Fred Price of Gothelney Farm (all pictured below with Truffle the cow).
Throughout the summer months, the Riders had pigs that were 100% pasture-fed and grazing. When we visited, the dry sows and boars on the farm were still out on a custom plantain, chicory, clover and grass mix, although the weaned pigs and farrowed sows are now in the barn and getting some sprouted grains and lucerne.
The point of this new informal pasture pig group is to occasionally get together and learn from each other’s experiences and develop basic guidance on options for what to grow and what to feed for other farmers who might be considering pasture-based pig production.
As the Riders’ experience shows, it is possible to feed at least some types of pigs at some times of year on 100% grazed pasture and other forages. However, it’s important to ensure that the balance of nutrition – and especially the essential amino acids – is maintained. The aim of the group is therefore to explore ways of maximising forages, rather than try to feed every pig 100% from pasture and forage.
Overall we think we should be able to achieve an average of 55% of total intake from pasture and forage across all pig types, averaged across the year.
We also want to explore maximising UK-grown feed for the remainder of the ration. Soya is included in pretty much all commercial pig diets, but there has been a lot of work done on maximising the use of peas and beans. For example, Anna was involved in the Green Pig project some years ago, which concluded that peas and beans are a viable homegrown alternative to soyabean meal in pig diets. We’ll take all this into account as we look at what the group can do to make pig diets more sustainable.
Interested in getting involved in the Pasture Pig group — or just finding out more? Get in touch via our Contacts Page.