Happy as Pigs in Clover


South Field Section One Clover

Time to change paddocks again. The pigs had eaten down section two of the south field so today I moved them down along the road to section one where the clover is tall and lush. They were very enthusiastic. Clover is one of their (many) favorite forages. One of the way to tell what they really like and what they don’t appreciate is to look at what is left over in a paddock as they graze vs what appears only in the margins between fence lines. The latter are favorites that are inaccessible. Examples are clover, thistles, burdock, jewel weed, etc. On the other hand, they tend to leave bitter cherry alone, only nibbling at it a little.


Pigs in Clover

That is no small sow – although looking at this photo I see she’s a little nursed down. Time to wean her. To give you an idea of how big she is, the grasses are up to my shoulders. She looks small in this photo but her back is about even with my waist. Further back you can see Speckles, one of our younger boars who is now about a year old. Beyond him are pigs up in section two that are looking on with jealous eyes at the pigs in the new clover. Moments later they figured out to come around to the lane and down to section one. Notice the height of the fence post (~36″) uphill of Speckles near the sow looking at me relative to the pigs and grasses.

We do managed intensive rotational grazing with our pigs and sheep. The chickens, ducks and geese just free range where ever. When moving the bigger animals from paddock to paddock the simplest thing is to just open the new paddock like I did today. They enthusiastically move in to get the new forage. Then I close off access to the old paddock once it is empty. Occasionally someone will get back in the previous grazing area – not a big deal. By setting the gates slightly open outward they’ll come out and join the others soon enough.

Outdoors: 70째F/38째F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 76째F/69째F

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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16 Responses to Happy as Pigs in Clover

  1. Anonymous says:

    My but that is some lush looking clover Walter. Our fields were too dry this year.

  2. Mary Ricksen says:

    Gives new meaning to the phrase, "Three Little Pigs," doesn't it?

  3. rpricenglishinPA says:

    Hey Walter,
    Okay, I'm a believer. Picked up some feeder pigs recently, and would like to try pasturing. I have about 4.5 acres, 2 of which is grass/clover pasture. I have a 1/4 acre fenced in with livestock fencing. Any chance I can keep one pig on that 1/4 acre? I was thinking I'd put up a strand of hot wire about ear height inside the stock fence to discourage rooting around the edges…
    Thanks!

  4. Dana says:

    Beautiful.

    Ended up here because we just put an offer on a little house with a bit of land and I can't sleep with all the excitement. And we want to try raising a couple pigs. And reading through your posts, I discovered you homeschool as well, so I just had to say "Hi!"

  5. Anonymous says:

    Walter,

    Can you add more info on pigs per acre here? size of paddock etc.

    I assume you don't reseed teh paddock they left…

  6. Cheryl says:

    Hi Walter,
    I have been soaking up your blog now for a few weeks…seem to find something new every time. I really appreciate all of the information!

    We have about 9 acres and currently have what we consider a small-ish hobby farm (our main business is a small, green design-build company–www.commongroundconstruction.net)
    We raise Naragansett turkeys, romney sheep, laying hens and pigs. We have a couple of standard (yorkshire cross) sows and recently added a mulefoot sow and boar. We currently sell our pork by the half or whole but recently we have been talking with some local restaurants about purchasing pork. We are moving toward having less of a hobby farm and more of a second business.

    I have a few questions that I'm sure you have answered somewhere but there is such a wealth of information, I've had a hard time finding the answers:-) If you can indulge us with some answers it would be so helpful…we are somewhat new to pasturing animals…we both grew up raising animals through 4-H and FFA and really only learned confinement-ish practices (my husband Scott raised pigs…they were all outdoors but grain fed…I raised sheep that had access to pasture but were mainly hay and grain fed).

    1. Can you tell me roughly how many pigs & other animals you keep on what size pasture and how long they are typically on that pasture before they have eaten it down? If I understand correctly, you typically pasture all of your animals together so maybe you can tell me your typical "animal ratios". We intend to do the same…pigs, sheep, turkeys and chickens. I know it will take some experimentation but I'd like to have a general starting point so we can plan the layout of our pastures…right now it's a bit hodge podge.

    2. Do you typically pay for the outside foods you feed your pigs? i.e. whey, cheese, etc. If so, what is a reasonable amount (we are in northwest washington so I'm sure dollar amounts vary…but again, a general frame of reference will help).
    3. Do you seed your pastures and if so how? If not, would you if you could? Right now we are only using half of our land and that was pretty torn up by a horse before we got the other animals so we have a fair amount of mud right now since it's been raining nonstop. Our land is split down the middle but a seasonal stream/ditch. The other side is overgrown pasture interspersed with alder trees that grow like weeds. We are debating whether to plow and seed or just turn them all loose over there. Any thoughts?

    4. We have a small pond on the other side…would you recommend fencing it off or will the animals stay out of it?

    5. What do you think is a good ratio of sows to boars?

    6. Some people think we are crazy already but we love our animals and farming. How much time to you and your family spend per day caring for your animals (and how many total animals)? I'm trying to determine a reasonable amount of growth considering that we have a young child and we both have "day jobs" with our construction company.

    I realize this blog probably takes a massive amount of your time… I greatly appreciate any help you can offer us!

    Thanks,
    Cheryl

  7. Wow, Cheryl, lots of questions. What you ask covers many entire posts and even categories. Rather than trying to answer the questions here I'll refer you to past posts that cover these topics. Use this search pattern:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=site:sugarmtnfarm.com+TERM

    and replace the 'TERM' with what you would like to look for such as 'boars' or 'pigs per acre' or 'fencing' or 'water'.

    You can also access the articles by categories here.

    Cheers,

    -Walter

  8. Edith Juidicea says:

    You articles are very informative. You should put together a book made out of the posts from your blog. The hard thing about the blog is that things are scattered over many years. I’ve been reading from the beginning but would love to have and would pay for a book that condensed it and organized the information. For example have all the feeding together, all the fencing info together, etc. Books like that sell for $40 to $60 when they have the sort of depth that you have here that you’re giving away for free.

    • Many people have asked for books about how we pasture pigs, breed, train our dogs, homestead and other topics. I am working on one now and have outlined a series of nine to follow it provided there is interest. To put everything in one book would make for a very large volume and not everyone is interest in some things such as breeding so I am figuring to break it up into topic areas. That will also help keep the cost of each book down. I anticipate having the first book written in about a year, maybe a little longer – I don’t want to rush it. Then it will take some time to publish it.

  9. Mark Johnson says:

    I too would be very interested in books on those topics. I love your writing style and the depth of knowledge you have. You’re very good at setting out the information in a way I can grasp. Lots of pictures please! And charts and diagrams and calculations. That is part of what makes your blog so helpful. I like the idea of a series. That means you’ll also have more time to put a lot of good stuff in each book. Maybe one a year? Will you release them as ibooks or for kindle too?

    • I’m considering ebooks in addition to paper copy. If we go that way then I would want it to be available in multiple ebook formats rather than locking into one proprietary format and vendor. I haven’t thought about this a great deal though as that is something that is a long ways down the road. First I need to get the butcher shop operating.

  10. Anne says:

    I too am very interested in any books you write. Your blog is such a wonderful resource and it amazes me that you share it all so freely. You are benefiting a lot of people who you will probably never know. You’re very generous!

    Do you have a mailing list for people interested in the books? Put me on it!

    • I don’t have a mailing list to notify people when the book(s) come out but if you sign up for notification’s on my blog you’ll see it when I announce it here. Look in the upper part of the right side bar for the Subscribe.

  11. Andrew Elders says:

    I think the market for something like the butcher shop book is very limited although important. That may end up being high priced due to the limited run. You should strongly consider the e-book route for that to keep the cost of publication down.

    Your experience with building your own house though is something that has a much much wider market. I can see that selling tens of thousands of copies if you can make it a very how-to guide with blueprints and plans. It is amazing to me how your family built in just a few months and for only 7k. I realize that doesn’t include the land but that is astoundingly affordable, less than what most people pay in one year for a mortgage or rent and less than what many people pay in real estate taxes.

    I am ready to down size. My wife and I no longer need this big old house we’re rattling around in which is so expensive to heat. Hell, we pay more than half that cost to build just in our heating bill each winter. I would like to build a small house like yours, maybe a little bigger but definitely under a 1000 feet and maybe half that. I have some experience with building things but have never built a house. But reading through your articles I see how I could do it. Maybe not as fast as you did but in a year perhaps. And there would be no mortgage and the taxes would be so much lower since it would be small. I really like the idea.

    So please definitely write about building your cottage. It is a book that could help a lot of people with affordable housing. The idea of building a house that has no mortgage and is easy to maintain and heat is very appealing to the older generation. Something to live out our remaining years in and not have to work so hard to keep up.

  12. Sherry Dwire says:

    I think I am doing this right, but maybe not. I put my pigs out to pasture and their favorite thing is to turn it up. Big areas look like a plow went through them. I wasn’t worried because I thought they would keep rooting and smooth it out, but not so far. I feed them grain (adults average 6 lbs a day). Any ideas? My plan is to replant with clover/alfalfa/grass pasture mix.

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