Growers and Shoats on Hay in Winter Paddocks of South Field Shed
You have said it somewhere, but I can’t find it easily. How much hay do you get for how many animals? Or I have 2 sows, 1 boar, and 18 piglets. How much hay would I need for a winter or a day or some period of time that makes sense to you? (I can do the math for 6 months.) We usually plan for 6 months of hay, though we try to extend the pasture or hope that it will start early. :)
And it is probably also somewhere, but how much milk would my herd drink in a day? And yes I realize that there are many variables! :)
Thanks for your help!
We find that the pigs eat about 0.8 lbs of hay per day per hundred weight of pig over the course of the winter. Our bales are 800 lbs. (Recently bales have tended toward heavier weights.) I figure about one half bale eaten per pig per winter so that is about 400 lbs per pig per winter. I also figure one full bale per farrowing per winter.
Thus for 1 boar + 2 sows I would figure:
3 x 400 lbs + 2 x 800 lbs =
2,800 lbs =
3.5 bales (round up to 4 bales) for the winter.
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.
For the piglets, realize they will only be nibbling at the hay for a while. Assuming they were just born today I would add 18 x 400×4/6 = 4,800 lbs = 6 bales more hay to get the piglets to pasture. That is going to be too much but it is better to have too much than too little. The 6 is the number of winter months. The 4 is the number of winter months left to go. This is based on our six month long winter hay season of Nov to April.
On top of all of that I would add several more bales to allow for error. Hay is cheap compared with losing pigs. Thus I would buy 13 to 15 of the 800 lb bales for your situation. More is better. Wrapped hay bales keep well in the shade. Unwrapped bales keep well under cover of a shed or tarp.
I would also suggest using cheaper materials such as wood chips or much hay to build up the bottom of a deep bed pack. Then put the feed hay on top of that. The pigs will eat mulch hay which makes it advantageous over wood chips. They will also eat wood chips of brush. The tender bark of twigs is good eating, so they tell me.
Over the winter the pigs eat the bedding so we have very little left the next spring. What is left we push into a compost pile which then becomes fertilizer for gardens and orchards. Nothing is wasted. With poor mountain soil like ours you appreciate the amendment of every bit of organic matter you can bring into the farm. Speaking of which, plant legumes such as clover and alfalfa in your fields. In the summer the winter paddocks with their nutrient rich soils become gardens which grow food for us and the livestock for the following fall and winter.
Beware of mineral deficiencies in your soils and in the incoming hay. Our mountain soils are rich in minerals. We have enough selenium but that is lacking in the winter hay we buy from down valley. Thus in the winter I must supplement our hay with either kelp or simply dirt from our own farm to provide the pigs with sufficient minerals. Watch out for mineral blocks made for sheep and cattle that contain salt since pigs have a hard time eliminating salt. If there is added salt in their diet then freely available water becomes critical to prevent salt sickness which can kill pigs. I recommend two sources of water for backup.
Assumed adult weights of 400 lbs each and ignoring the nursing piglets:
3.6 x 3 x 400/100 = 43 gallons of milk per day for the adults
As the piglets start drinking the milk this will go up dramatically. When they’re 100 lbs each it would like like this:
3.6 x ( 18 x 100/100 + 3 x 400/100) =
108 gallons per day for the herd
And when they’re finishing off you’ll be looking at:
3.6 x ( 18 x 200/100 + 3 x 400/100) =
173 gallons per day for the herd
Except that by then the sows and boar should be bigger and the sows may well be with the next round of piglets. Note that this 3.6 gallons/day/hundredweight is what they like when free fed with free fed hay. It doesn’t mean you have to give them that much. A quarter of that is sufficient to get good growth over the winter.
Also there is a world of difference between whole milk and whey. We mostly feed whey with occasional milk, cream, butter and cheese. They’ll eat the same number of gallon either of whey or whole milk either way but get a lot more calories from the whole milk. The limitation is how much they can put through their gut. One does with what one has.
If you want really fat pigs for the lard then feed them whole Jersey milk (8% fat) and pen them so they don’t get enough exercise. A fellow who buys gilts from us does this and gets 4″ of back fat. Contrast that with the 0.75″ to 1″ that we get. Feed them for what you want to eat.
If you’re short on dairy, the pigs eat less hay. If you’re short on hay the pigs drink less dairy. There is a balance. They also need about 20% water compared with the dairy they are drinking.
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