Today was a curing day on the tiny cottage roof. It was drizzling, a little windy and not a good time to mess around with concrete outdoors. So we worked on other projects like fencing, whey pipe lines and valve setup, putting out the weekly round bales of hay to the herd (two bales) and grower piglets (one bale).
Things are a big wet right now so the pigs go through the hay faster than they do when it freezes up hard and there is less waste. Last winter was warmer than usual and we ended up feeding out more bales than I expected. Fortunately I had bought a few extra. A typical adult pig (around 500 lbs) eats about 800 lbs (one bale) per winter (November through April) as well as using that hay for bedding. I like to use hay rather than wood shavings, saw dust or straw because the hay is edible. In the words of Willy Wonka, “You can even eat the dishes,” er, bedding…
Data from last year:
30 round bales x 800 lbs/bale = 24,000 lbs of hay
30 sows x 500 lbs = 15,000 lbs of sows
+ 1 boar x 700 lbs = 700 lbs of boar
+ 10 growers x 100 lbs = 1,000 lbs of growers
Total = 16,700 lbs of pigs
=> 133 lbs of hay consumed per day
=> 1 round bale lasted 6 days on average
=> 144 lbs of hay per winter per 100 lbs of pig
=> 24 lbs of hay per 100 lbs of pig per month
=> 0.8 lbs of hay per 100 lbs of pig per day
=> 500 lb adult pig eats ~4 lbs of hay a day
=> 200 lb finisher eats ~1.6 lbs of hay a day
=> 100 lb grower eats ~0.8 lbs of hay a day
Keep in mind that this is a herd average over many sizes of animals over a long period. In reality the bigger pigs eat a bit more hay per 100 lbs of body weight than the smaller pigs. Bigger pigs have bigger jaws, longer digestive tracts and are better able to digest the hay. That said, even piglets munch down on the hay within a week or so of birth just as they do on grasses and herbs in the pasture during the warmer season. Of course, fresh pastures in the warm months are better than winter hay just as our fresh summer garden veggies and fruit are better than what we can for our own table to keep us eating over the winter.
Note that the wrapped round bales are high quality hay and have more moisture content than the small square bales (about 40 lbs each). In the past we had fed the square bales but over the last few years have been switching to the round bales. See this article from last week about moving the round bales using a chain hook.
Over the course of the winter the pigs eat almost all of the hay and there is little waste. What there is for “waste” goes into the soil of the garden corrals increasing their organic matter content which is good. In the spring the chickens kill off almost all weeds that result so we don’t have to waste our time weeding. Then we plant. This turns our marginal Vermont mountain soil into rich organic gardens. Sequencing and timing are important.
The picture at the top is Saturn howling off the coyotes from atop a log pile. Saturn is one of our Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGDs) and he is making sure the local predators know in no uncertain terms that they are not to get near his pigs. Check out Sweetnicks for more weekend dog blogging.
Outdoors: 42°F/31°F Drizzle
Farm house: 64°F/55°F 2 logs
Tiny Cottage: 57°F/48°F curing the roof