- 022 – Raising Pigs
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Be forewarned that this pod cast has some audio issues that were beyond our technical expertise to repair.
Paul and Jocelyn speak about pigs form all points of view. First we must say pigs are considered the best livestock to raise in permaculture and second they are Sepp Holzer’s beloved farm workers. Paul starts from these two concepts laid down as skids for a portable pig hut to be built at the end of listening to the podcast! Paul and Sepp Holzer are tied up in this podcast and you never know where one finishes and the other starts.
Paul recalls an event where he was asked to say how he would have dealt with blackberries growing everywhere and his answer was put some electric fencing at let in the pigs. Paul explains the difference one can achieve by using goats or pigs if you have to deal with blackberries, and in general how these two animals so renowned as plot cleaners, are so different, pigs are less fussy and will find their own food.
Paul tells a great Sepp anecdote on pigs and a vegetarian, that represents Sepp in all his splendor, with no offense to vegetarians. Listen for yourselves!
Pigs can be fed almost anything but the best thing to do is to let them forage for themselves, this not only cuts your bill but makes your pigs healthier. And you can get to give them only a cup of feed a day, that works like candy, like a treat for them. In a whole farm ecosystem pigs are going to forage and our waste doesn’t go down the drain but to the pigs. And in the end, their meat will give you back some good money if you sell it.
Paul discusses if feeding pigs only acorns is a good way, like in Spain, but if we look at the issue in a permaculture way, we can’t accept to have them on a mono-ingredient diet, so let’s go for poly-ingredient diets self-made. Pigs will forage what they need and can even eat moles, mice and rat, they are omnivores.
They can even eat cow pies! Yes those cow pies, that are fermented grasses nothing else really.To give pigs the right habitat to forage their own food, two plants are great as part of the polyculture pantry: apples and sunchokes or Jerusalem artichokes. Of the second pigs will eat everything not only the
A myth that has to be dispelled is that pigs smell. It’s not true if they smell it’s because we don’t give them enough space to live in. If you can smell it you’re doing it wrong. Any pig will keep his sleeping area clean and do his business in one point of his paddock. That’s the truth and many don’t believe it, Paul recalls his own experience. Of course they wallow, and they will in anything, but that’s because they don’t sweat and hey have to cool their skin. Pigs need space.
The important thing to keep in mind is that one has to move them around, pigs can cause compaction if left in the same place too long. Paul states that pigs have to stay not more than 10 days in the same place and then be moved and not come back to the same spot before a month. This way one will give time to the soil to recover and plants and roots to grow.
Having to move them around, Paul’s best way to house them is in portable shelters, skidable hut’s, Paul loves skids! Of course one can even build an earth berm shelter which has it’s great workout for winter and cold climates. The second is Sepp Holzer’s favorite design. As usual one just has to see what suite’s his farm the best.
The last covered topic is using pigs to seal ponds. Sepp has demonstrated that it’s possible and a lot of people on permies.com have come back to state that they have had great results with this pig sealing technique. Virtually any pond due to the compaction caused by pigs can be sealed. Pigs are useful even for correcting the texture of sandy soils where one can’t build soil. To know if one raises pigs the right way the test will be in the taste of the bacon and the ham.
Pigs Eating Acorns
Jerusalem Artichoke as Fodder
Credit: Landon Sunrich
You can discuss this podcast on this thread at Permies.
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