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Free Hog Feed Coming Into Season!

There hasn’t been a lot of new things happening at the farm lately other than spreading a little more grass and clover seed on the pasture and continuing to move and feed all the animals. Feed is usually a major expense on any farm that raises meat or eggs so any free food can go a long way in ensuring a profit. I often get day old bread at Subway for a snack that both the hogs and chickens enjoy. More recently, local fruit and nut trees have started dropping great hog food!

About a week ago my wife and I picked up about 8 Walmart bags full of apples from her grandmothers yard. Nearly all of these apples would have gone to waste but now they are helping to add weight and flavor to our Red Wattle hogs.

We are blessed with numerous pecan trees and 2 large persimmon trees on our farm and hope to use these to help finish the hogs each year. This past week the first persimmons started to ripen and finally the hogs realized that these were good after all. It’s amazing how nasty something can taste until it is “ripe”! I’ve got high hopes for persimmons being a great hog feed. I’ve read that in Europe people used to finish hogs by pasturing them in persimmon groves. I tried a few of these little squishy fruits but can’t see them haveing a large presence in our kitchen because so much of the fruit is it’s large seeds. All the better for the hogs though, those guys love to munch on nuts! 

After the hurricane sent strong winds through on Sunday there were loads of persimmons and still green pecans on the ground so I’ve been gathering these and putting them in a trough for the hogs. They root through the fruit and find anything that’s ripe to gobble up. I’m hoping that like a tomato, these persimmons will ripen with time, after they’ve fallen from the tree.

Next I’m trying to get the hogs to try some Black Walnuts that are starting to fall, and even a few pawpaws that I was able to get from a neighbor. 

What kind of free wholesome foods have you found for your critters or yourself?

6 comments to Free Hog Feed Coming Into Season!

  • Yeoman

    Given as we only raise cattle, and live in the West, I don’t have anything novel to report for them.

    Locally, however, I can report that this has been a banner year for the Peking cherries that make up my hedge. They’re a lot of work, but they make for a great pie.

    And here’s a sort of on topic news article on an interesting local vegetable item.

  • Troy

    Was curious how your hogs did with Black Walnuts. I have a nearby 17 acre Black Walnut tree plantation. I would like to develope a Black Walnut finished pastured pig. Could you share any thoughts?

  • Troy

    Forgot to put the .com at the end of my email.

  • Is the plantation yours? Could you actually pasture hogs there or are you talking about bringing the walnuts to them? If I had a grove of walnut trees, I would rotationally graze them with poultry netting and a portable fence charger. They would need grain too, even if they got 90% of their feed from the trees and forage. I say 90% because I know one apple orchard owner said that he was able to cut his hogs feed by 90% while they were grazing in his orchard but with walnuts I would expect it to be less. They do not gobble the black walnuts up like they do acorns or pecans but they do eventually eat them.
    For instance, I’m still noticing our gilt crunching on one here and there and I dumped them in her pasture months ago. They could be a little like us eating celery, it could burn more calories to eat them than you get from them. 🙂
    They don’t like the green hull and they are hard to crack but if you crack them with a hammer just enough for them to smell the nut, they love them. The black walnuts are a natural wormer too! They seem to be eating the old nuts that have been laying out for months because they hulls are gone and they are dried out.
    I think pasturing them would work because they would eat grubs, bugs, weeds, grass, and walnuts. I’d want to know how heavily spray’d the grove was because you don’t know how this could effect the hogs (to be digging around in the ground under the trees). You would want them to be in a small area and moved once or twice a week so that they would dig around and do a little damage, but then you wouldn’t want them back on that spot for a good while. I would think that 6 to 8 weeks might be enough, but if they really root it up, the next year would be better. If you did this enough, you wouldn’t need to mow under the trees.
    Joel Salatin is pasturing in oak forests. He puts a group of hogs on a fairly small area and also provides a self feeder so that they have all the grain that they could want. When the hogs leave the paddock they will have it all torn up and aerated but the paddock will then be fallow for 11 months so it ends up with more vegetation the next year than it ever had before.
    If you pasture them in an apple orchard, they will eat the larvey of bugs before they attack the trees. Added bonus.

  • Troy

    I do not own the Black Walnut tree plantation. I am going to help the owner manage the site. He wants to harvest the trees for thier wood.( Actually his kids will harvest the trees). We could harvest the walnuts and send them to missouri to own of the only company I know purchasing them, but that doesn’t to be a very good carbon footpring model.

    The trees are not being treated with any chemicals, so I have an organic protein source. I have a nearby certified organic apple orchard that produces organic cider. He wants me to take his cider by-product and feed it to my hogs. It would actually save him work. He already loads it into large plastic hoppers, then drive it out to his field and makes compost wind rows. He would simply load the hoppers onto my truck and I would take them to my farm. Once I fed the pigs, I could simply take the hopper back and get another one.

    I have never raised pigs, but currently raise sheep. I have been thinking about using purebred GOS or purebred SPOT pigs.

  • Sounds like an awesome possibility. Finding buyers might be your biggest problem. If you start small you should be able to build up a customer base of people looking for natural, tasty, healthy pork. Also if you go with a heritage purebred hog, you’ll be able to sell to breeders too! We have a large apple/peach orchard near us that recently sold their orchards. I think they may still be leasing the trees though. I need to look into that and see what’s going to happen to all that fruit!

    That same orchard makes apple butter and apple cider too so you reminded me that I should call them about getting the ‘leftovers”.

    Do any readers have any experience feeding the mash from making wine? I fed one bucket to our two breeding hogs and they loved it but I don’t know if I should contact the local winery about getting more because I don’t know if getting them drunk on pressed grapes is a good idea. 🙂