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Basic Considerations for Rotational Grazing of Pigs

| 2/22/2017 9:50:00 PM

Pastured Pigs In Missouri Field

The maxim “pigs cannot eat grass” has never been adequately explained to my pigs. Maybe they are rebels — black and red porcine pirates chowing down the ocean of green grass that they swim through. Maybe they live to confound agricultural experts. Maybe they delight in doing what is expected to be impossible. Or perhaps they are just carefree opportunists, filling their bellies from a great diversity of feedstuffs which nature (through the guiding efforts of their farmer) provides.

Of the many strategies we have employed over the last five years, my old standby has been grazing permanent pasture. Whether you choose to reduce your grain ration or not, this will be the foundation of your pasture-based pig operation: Taking care of your permanent pasture by way of rotational grazing.

Like many topics, pasture management is as simple or as intricate as we make it. Books have been written on this topic and we will not pursue it to the smallest fractal of knowledge here. In the broadest of brush strokes, we may start by saying animal impact on your pasture can be positive (soil- and grass-building) or negative (soil- and grass-harming).

Beyond that statement, though, we find a rather fluid world of timing. Creating positive animal impact on a pasture system is sort of like baking cookies: Take them out too quick and you don’t get what you were imagining. Leave them in too long and you’ve made a mess that will take some time to clean up.

Encouraging grass production through animal impact is much the same.

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