Archive for Downsizer For an ethical approach to consumption
 


       Downsizer Forum Index -> Livestock and Pets
Mary-Jane

Pig feeding question

Prescott and Soames seem to have settled in now, but I'm still a bit worried about how much we should be feeding them... Confused

Is there a 'Weight in Pig Nuts' chart/system we should be following?
Bodger

We have recently had a pig killed. Well two halves really if that makes sense. Four of us bought a weaner each a few months ago and we had a free one thrown in as part of the deal. We kept them at my friends place.
We sent the two biggest of the pigs to be slaughtered about two weeks ago and we all had a half each. This was the pig that I put the pictures on here of me chopping up last week. We thought we'd keep the smaller ones a little bit longer so that they could get a bit bigger. Well apparently we overfed these pigs because first of all the guy at the abbatoire said that he wouldn't have been able to sell them commercially because they were too fat.

Secondly my good friend 'Just Me' very kindly butchered this second half for me last night. He had to take masses of fat and suet off the carcasse and he then went onto point out the obvious. He quite rightly said that you have to pay twice for this fat. Once through expensive feedstuffs and a second time through the butchering costs because some butchers charge by the pound for their service.
My friend who looked after the pigs, mistakenly thought that because they were free range, they wouldn't get too fat. He was patently mistaken. They were fed on boiled potatoes, rolled barley and proprietary pig pellets. For a number of reasons these pigs have not produced what I would describe as reasonably priced quality pork.
judith

It seems to be a fact of life that you overfeed your first pigs. I finally got it right with my last pair of porkers (4th lot) with a formula of 1 lb of pellets per month of life, up to 5lb (most people say to 6lb, but I found that put on too much fat). This is supplemented with as much vegetable matter as I can supply them, which occasionally means buying a couple of sacks of stock carrots if there is nothing in the garden.
Northern_Lad

judith wrote:
This is supplemented with as much vegetable matter as I can supply them, which occasionally means buying a couple of sacks of stock carrots if there is nothing in the garden.


MJ often has sheep and chickens in the garden, but I'm guessing that's not waht you mean. Confused
judith

Not unless she carves sheep out of swedes or weaves them out of willow.
Mary-Jane

Northern_Lad wrote:
judith wrote:
This is supplemented with as much vegetable matter as I can supply them, which occasionally means buying a couple of sacks of stock carrots if there is nothing in the garden.


MJ often has sheep and chickens in the garden, but I'm guessing that's not waht you mean. Confused


judith wrote:
Not unless she carves sheep out of swedes or weaves them out of willow.


*Snort* Laughing Laughing Laughing
Mary-Jane

judith wrote:
It seems to be a fact of life that you overfeed your first pigs. I finally got it right with my last pair of porkers (4th lot) with a formula of 1 lb of pellets per month of life, up to 5lb (most people say to 6lb, but I found that put on too much fat). This is supplemented with as much vegetable matter as I can supply them, which occasionally means buying a couple of sacks of stock carrots if there is nothing in the garden.


So let me get this right (counting on fingers and with a furrowed brow) these two are 4 months old (or thereabouts), so they should be getting 4lbs of feed per day each - divided in half (we feed them morning and evening) so 2lbs each per feed. And you say carrots too? How many of those (or how much general vegetable matter) per day to you feed them?
Mary-Jane

bodger wrote:
He quite rightly said that you have to pay twice for this fat. Once through expensive feedstuffs and a second time through the butchering costs because some butchers charge by the pound for their service.


Good point - I see what you mean Bodger.
VSS

judith's rule of thumb sounds about right (those weights would be amount of feed per day, not per feed).

any good pig keeping book will have feed / age / weight guidlines. If you can lay your hands on an old pig book (1950s) it will also give you equivelent feed values of household scraps, veg waste. etc. (which of course we wouldn't dream of feeding to our pigs these days would we...?)

tim has calculated all this sort of information ready to go in easy to use charts, to go in his book (which isn't written/published yet). you'll have to wait
Mary-Jane

VSS wrote:
...any good pig keeping book will have feed / age / weight guidlines. If you can lay your hands on an old pig book (1950s) it will also give you equivelent feed values of household scraps, veg waste. etc. (which of course we wouldn't dream of feeding to our pigs these days would we...?)


Noooooooooooo... Wink
judith

Mary-Jane wrote:
So let me get this right (counting on fingers and with a furrowed brow) these two are 4 months old (or thereabouts), so they should be getting 4lbs of feed per day each - divided in half (we feed them morning and evening) so 2lbs each per feed.


Yep. That's what I did. It doesn't look very much, but they will grow fine on it. It was once suggested to me to feed them meal, rather than pellets as they eat it more slowly, but I found that they spilled quite a bit and went back to pellets.

Quote:
And you say carrots too? How many of those (or how much general vegetable matter) per day to you feed them?


I would aim for a bucketful of veggies every day between them - perhaps a bit less at the moment as they are still small.

(None of this is gospel - it is what works for us. Some people say their pigs won't eat carrots, for example, but mine loved crunching them up.)
Mary-Jane

Shocked A bucket full of veggies a day? Bloody hell - I'd better down to the Farmer's Co-op and get a sack of carrots methinks...

Hmmmm....I might take my weight scales up to the pig pen this afternoon. I'm rubbish at guessing weight so I'd better make sure I'm not over-feeding them. Confused
judith

Mary-Jane wrote:
Shocked A bucket full of veggies a day? Bloody hell - I'd better down to the Farmer's Co-op and get a sack of carrots methinks...


Don't fret over exact quantities - they will be happy to take what you can give and, as I said, that was what I was giving my fully grown porkers, not 4-month old chappies.

Quote:
Hmmmm....I might take my weight scales up to the pig pen this afternoon. I'm rubbish at guessing weight so I'd better make sure I'm not over-feeding them.


Judith's tip of the day: Weigh out 1lb of feed into a container or scoop. Mark the container to indicate a 1lb worth. Then use that to dole out the feed, rather than pouring what you think is a pound into a bucket - it is so easy to overestimate.

Edited to say that you will need to recalibrate your container if you change feed - some pellets take up more space than others.
Mary-Jane

judith wrote:
Judith's tip of the day: Weigh out 1lb of feed into a container or scoop. Mark the container to indicate a 1lb worth. Then use that to dole out the feed, rather than pouring what you think is a pound into a bucket - it is so easy to overestimate.


Excellent tip Judith. Thanks for that. Very Happy
Bodger

Going back nearly 20 years ago, I started a smallholders club here on the Lleyn. As a money raiser, we ran a guess the weight of the pig competition at The Nefyn Show.
It was hilarious ! Laughing First of all I got my mate to hold the pig in a loving embrace and then for him to stand with it squealing on a set of bathroom scales and to top it all, on the day of the show, the pig got its nose under the hurdles and escaped onto the showground.

Happy days and fond memorys. Laughing
Mary-Jane

bodger wrote:
First of all I got my mate to hold the pig in a loving embrace and then for him to stand with it squealing on a set of bathroom scales and to top it all, on the day of the show, the pig got its nose under the hurdles and escaped onto the showground.


Laughing And I wonder just how many DEFRA regulations that would contravene these days...
NeathChris

5lb a day per pig would be good and would keep them lean, i would feed veg and not worry about how much, if they look fat just cut the veg down.

Incidentally i have now started collecting all the veg, fruit and bread waste from my local supermarket, really does help keep costs down!
lottie

One thing I remember from a keeping rare breed pigs thingy I went on that Tony Y ork ran was if you give them more than they clear up in 25 mins max you are overfeeding them, and as has been said a pound of nuts or meal a day per month of age up to an absolute maximum of6lb. a day. Make deductions from this if they are foraging alot or you are feeding allowed waste like your[cooked] slug eaten potatoes, or vegetable waste---seem to remember it was something like 4lbs "extras"= 1lb. of nuts, but I might be misremembring---the other thing was just use your eyes to see if they are putting too much on and you got better tasting pigs grown more slowly on a foraged,mixed diet---but that presupposes you've got lots of space or access to lots of waste.
Mary-Jane

NeathChris wrote:
Incidentally i have now started collecting all the veg, fruit and bread waste from my local supermarket, really does help keep costs down!


That's a good idea.
VSS

there is a lot to be said for feeding by eye and all the best stockmen can do it.

but not everyone has the eye for these things and i have seen cases of thin animals where the owner has simply not realised that the animal has lost condition. it is sometimes harder to notice when you see the animal twice a day every day.

If in doubt, weigh it out. Let your eye develop over time.
Bodger

but if its the first time that you've ever kept pigs ?
VSS

weigh it, but you do still have to take acount of body condition.
Mary-Jane

Judith had that good tip above...
Treacodactyl

NeathChris wrote:
Incidentally i have now started collecting all the veg, fruit and bread waste from my local supermarket, really does help keep costs down!


How do you get round the regulations then? The way feed prices are going I think that would be the only way I would be able to afford to keep a few pigs.
NeathChris

Veg fruit and bread are all legal to feed pigs. Regs are easy to abide by, and i have checked it out with all the relevant authorities. Mixed with their feed it will keep the sows fed, happy and healthy.
NeathChris

Another thing make sure your pigs have plenty of clean water, it does make a big difference.
Bodger

What the eyes don't see the heart doesn't grieve about. Laughing
lassemista

So what does a pig look like when it is the correct weight?
With my dogs I work on you should be able to feel the ribs but not see them, but they are meant to be fit. What would be the equivalent rule of thumb?
Andrea.
Mary-Jane

NeathChris wrote:
Another thing make sure your pigs have plenty of clean water, it does make a big difference.


Prolly a daft question...but how do you keep your pigs' water clean? We have a tin tub in a tyre for them to drink from - but no matter how many times I clean it out and put fresh water in, as soon as they poke their snouts in there it's filthy again. I do my best with the hose (no nearby tap) but is there any secret to it? Confused
NeathChris

youcant really keep it clean 24/7, but i empty out twice a day and refill twice a day.
Nick

I have the same problem with dirty water. The only clean stuff I've managed to keep is a wall mounted trough on a tap. They can get their face in it, but not their trotters. Trouble is, soon as it runs dry, or they get bored, or plain naughty, they rip it off the gate it's wired too.

Currently, I use an old steel bath (in avocado, of course) and they drain it and we refill about every 2 days.
Bodger

With regards to water, I have a nipple system fitted in the styes that the pigs mouth to release the water, one of these mounted on a strong post might solve the problem.
Mary-Jane

bodger wrote:
With regards to water, I have a nipple system fitted in the styes that the pigs mouth to release the water, one of these mounted on a strong post might solve the problem.


Shocked I'm not getting my nipples out for anyone...let alone the pigs.
Bodger

I'll send you a picture of my nipple Embarassed Embarassed Embarassed
Mary-Jane

NeathChris wrote:
...i empty out twice a day and refill twice a day.


Blimey. Shocked I fill every day, but have been cleaning out once or twice a week. Embarassed Sorry - I'm usually at work all day during the week, so is Gervase. Does that make us very bad pig keepers?
Nick

No, simply not commercial. Smile
lottie

On the subject of pigs eating why do they mouth and chomp stones-----is it amusement or teeth cleaning---I've been given both explanations---an expert on here must know Very Happy
NeathChris

Stone chewing is a sign of boredom from pigs.

I only do the water twice a day as i am feeding twice a day and checking them over and i have the water taps near by. Once a week is fine though!
lottie

Thanks----I was always sceptical off the toothcleaning explanation
Mary-Jane

NeathChris wrote:
...Once a week is fine though!


*Phew* I thought I was about to be awarded the 'DS Bad Pig Keeper of the Week' award... Neutral
Mary-Jane

Right, I've just come back from a weighing session in the polytunnel and now have a plastic container marked clearly where 2lbs of pig nuts comes to in it. Very Happy

Thanks for that Judith. Excellent tip!
judith

Laughing
HTH
mochyn

I use a 1litre milk thingy, lid on, turned upside down and the bottom cut off for a scoop. It has an integral handle and holds 1.25lb of pellets.

Still have to pour the pellets over the pigs' heads to get it into the trough, though.
Mary-Jane

mochyn wrote:
Still have to pour the pellets over the pigs' heads to get it into the trough, though.


Laughing Yup - so do we!
mochyn

Mary-Jane wrote:
mochyn wrote:
Still have to pour the pellets over the pigs' heads to get it into the trough, though.


Laughing Yup - so do we!


And don't they look fetching with a few pellets lodged behind the ears? Laughing
Mary-Jane

mochyn wrote:
And don't they look fetching with a few pellets lodged behind the ears? Laughing


Oh yes... Laughing
judith

What you need is rubber buckets - something like 4 for a tenner at Charlies. 2 sets for each pig. Fill set 1 outside pig pen, then put buckets in pig pen and go and fetch set 2 while pigs are otherwise occupied. That way each pig has its own dinner, you don't get (too) covered in mud while you are dishing out the food, and less gets spilled.
It has to be the rubber buckets as they are able to withstand being thrown in the air like a ball, buried under 3 tonnes of mud, squashed under large porker, etc, etc.
(Of course, this only works if you just have a couple of weaners. Rubber buckets for 10 might prove a little unwieldy)
VSS

we tend to feed ours on the floor. in a larger group the feed can be spread out so that they all have an equal chance at the grub.

It doesn't work quite so well if the pigs are outdoors, as some may get wasted, but the pigs will be kept occupied looking for the last pellet.

You can get outdoor pig nuts - much larger pellet size, so you can floor feed without the waste. feeding on the ground is certainly more natural.

old saucepans are excellent for measuring out feed.
NeathChris

I feed outdoor pigs in a trough with a wet/soaked feed, dont fill up trough to much and they waste very little. Wink
lassemista

I found the milk cartons too squishy to be feed scoops, but washed out cans work well Smile . Possibly not big enough for pigs tho'
Andrea.
mochyn

lassemista wrote:
I found the milk cartons too squishy to be feed scoops, but washed out cans work well Smile . Possibly not big enough for pigs tho'
Andrea.


My milk cartons may be more rigid. They last a few years each as scoops!
lassemista

Following on from this - I now have my pigs Very Happy .
I went to CWG ready for them and bought a bag of grower and finisher pig feed. The only other sort they had was sow food which didn't sound right, tho the staff thought it used to be weaner and sow food (does that sound right?). The problem was that the bag I got said from 12 weeks, and they are only 9 weeks old. Is this a problem?
Then the chap I bought them from said they really need meal (and gave me some to be going on with), but I don't think there is anywhere else locally that sells pig food. He also said the grower and finisher, was not suitable for traditional breeds (OS X Saddleback) because it is too high in copper, and might give them a heart attack.
They had not eaten any of the meal I put out yesterday teatime - they were having such a lovely time with a fresh patch of grass to start ploughing. Do I have to bin it if they don't eat it straight away? I also suspect they slept in the open, rather than in the shelter, but it was a lovely night - no rain or wind - so I hope that was OK.
HEEELP!
Andrea.
Blue Sky

Pigs will do as they please. They are quite hardy. Very Happy

Given a choice of pellets virsus live grass the pellets don't stand a chance (in my experience). They will get to them in due course.

We (mainly) fattened our last drove on ground barley, mixed with warm water and served in rubberized troughs (easily sourced at the local builders merchants as plaster mixing vessels).

Good luck!
judith

lassemista wrote:
Following on from this - I now have my pigs Very Happy .
I went to CWG ready for them and bought a bag of grower and finisher pig feed. The only other sort they had was sow food which didn't sound right, tho the staff thought it used to be weaner and sow food (does that sound right?). The problem was that the bag I got said from 12 weeks, and they are only 9 weeks old. Is this a problem?
Then the chap I bought them from said they really need meal (and gave me some to be going on with), but I don't think there is anywhere else locally that sells pig food. He also said the grower and finisher, was not suitable for traditional breeds (OS X Saddleback) because it is too high in copper, and might give them a heart attack.
They had not eaten any of the meal I put out yesterday teatime - they were having such a lovely time with a fresh patch of grass to start ploughing. Do I have to bin it if they don't eat it straight away? I also suspect they slept in the open, rather than in the shelter, but it was a lovely night - no rain or wind - so I hope that was OK.
HEEELP!
Andrea.


As Simon says, pigs will do as they please - they won't go hungry. That said, they are only little and moving has probably been a bit stressful for them, so don't worry if they don't eat much straight away. They will when they are ready.

I have always fed the sow & weaner pellets, rather than grower/finisher (which I thought was just for the last couple of weeks before sending them off - not that I ever bother with it). I get on better with the pellets too, as there tends to be less wastage, but you might find differently.

As for sleeping out, my first pair did that too. Just scraped themselves a little hole and snuggled up in it. They soon found their house though and decided that it provided better accommodation.

Enjoy your pigs!
lassemista

Sounds like I should swap my unopened grower stuff for sow stuff if possible!
They did obviously have some stress, and boy can't they squeal when they are picked up Shocked Then turns off like a switch when they land again! But they looked really happy boys with the grass.
Good tip about the plaster mixer troughs. I looked at some black rubber bowls at CWG and they were 21!!
Thanks for the help.
Andrea
NeathChris

they may go over fat on the growers, sow feed would be fine for them. Pigs do grow better on meal though.
Pel

If they ever go indoors, meal fed pigs are much easy to muck out than pellet fed pigs. I've found that meal poo is a lot harder and firmer so easier to shift, whilst pellet poo is very sticky, and in warm weather is almost impossible to get every last bit of the ground.

We used to feed barley/soya to the pigs, but now feed sow and weaner pellets, with added rolled organic oats and peas to the breeding stock. Sows with piglets also get sow and weaner pellets, once the piglets are weaned we do a gradual change to the grower and finisher pellets up until slaughter.
We feed about 3-6Kg to sows with piglets, the growers we do by eye, if they don't eat all their food by next feed, they get given a little less, and then add or take-away depending on what their is. We feed 3 buckets of sow and weaner pellets and 1 bucket of oat/pea to the breeding stock in the field once a day, which at the moment has 6 sows/gilts in and a boar. (the buckets are the regular size, but then again we also alter depending on their condition)
alison

Pel

Why did you change from the barley / soya mix?
Pel

The farm where i work is organic, and before we had the yearly inspection we didn't know whether we were allowed to have organic feed and non-organic feed on the same premises.
All the land, sheep and cattle are organic, but our pigs weren't/aren't, and it isnt possible to get the pigs to be organic, as the growers would have to be out on the fields for at least 2/3 of their life. So we were feeding them Organic barley that we had grown, which is fine, but we were also buying in Organic Soya, which is at least double the price of non-organic soya. Last time i checked non-organic SBM was 260 whilst organic SBM was 595.

Also if you mix your own, you need to get the balance right, and whilst we did have the balance, as soon as the new farmer manager was hired in the balance went out the window, and basically he found it easier and cheaper just to buy in complete feed.
lassemista

They found their shelter last night, and one had all four feet in the feed bowl this morning. I think they are settling in Very Happy .
Andrea.
Pel

Thats good hear Very Happy
       Downsizer Forum Index -> Livestock and Pets
Page 1 of 1
Home Array Home Home Home