Managing Your Pig Pastures in Really Wet Weather

| 4/19/2017 9:33:00 AM

Tags: pasture raised pigs, carbon sequestration, positive animal impact, grass fed, pasture management. John Arbuckle,

Here's a tricky riddle someone asked me the other day..."How do you keep the pigs from wrecking your pasture in really wet weather?”

Turns out you can successfully graze pigs on pasture, even when it won't stop raining!  Here's what we did at Singing Prairie Farm during the last 11 day stretch with nary a sunbeam in sight.

1. Pay attention to your microclimates. There will be some places on your farm that are more resilient in wet weather than others. The longer you observe your land, the more you will notice the subtleties and nuances of each different corner and location. It's almost like each spot has its own personality. With this in mind, when the real rain set in, we moved our breeding herd (the highest impact group) to an east facing hillside that had not been grazed in 12 months. The slope helps by not allowing water to pool. If you have water pooling somewhere, that place will be very, very sensitive, so long as it is flooded. If the animals tramp around the puddles with their sharp hooves it will no doubt disturb and compact the soil so that it will be unlikely that good perennial grass will grow there next year.

Much like the guys I went to high school with, you might also describe pigs as having a "path of least resistance" mindset. This means they may drink from standing water in puddles rather than the good, clean water of their waterers. This could be a potential vector for disease and parasitism if left for long enough.

Other than the gentle slope, the other factor that helped us out a lot was the fact that the paddock hadn't been grazed for 12 months. All that grass on the surface eventually got laid down flat and acted like a small layer of armor between the sky and the earth. And as we all know, keeping soil covered and protected is one of the hallmarks of increasing those magical and omnipresent micro-organisms that make the whole world keep spinning...

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