Plow With Pigs

article image
The electric fence and shade structure, on wooden runners, are moved frequently to new pasture to provide fresh forage and distribute manure evenly.

Pigs have a natural instinct for rooting in the ground that farmers
and gardeners can use to their advantage. Turn a pig loose on land
you want to plant as a garden, and it will turn up the ground just
as efficiently as with a rototiller. Pigs also excel at clearing
away brush in overgrown pastures.

Joel Salatin, author of the books You Can Farm and Family
Friendly Farming
, finishes more than 200 hogs a year on his
diversified Polyface Farm at Swoope, Va. The pigs are used to till
some fields before planting and to clear land for pasture. ‘We’re
always trying to utilize the assets of the animal so that it
expresses its animalness, and a pig fully expresses when it’s
plowing,’ Salatin says.

Pigs can be useful on the farm even in small numbers. David and
Lise Abazs used three pigs to convert an overgrown field into an
orchard on their organic Round River Farm, at Finland, Minn. ‘We
wanted to do it so we didn’t have to bulldoze,’ David Abazs says.
The Abazses bought three, constructed a mobile pen for the animals,
and then kept moving the pen with the pigs in it across the
overgrown field they wanted to clear. By the end of the summer, the
pigs had cleared the field. The pigs even cleared away large tree
roots; the couple would just sprinkle a little corn beside the
roots and let the animals dig.

Megan E. Phelps is a freelance writer based in Kansas. She enjoys reading and writing about all things related to sustainable living including homesteading skills, green building and renewable energy. You can find her on .