Thistle Love


Thistle Plant

I really love thistle flowers, they’re beautiful.

I really hate thistle thorns, they’re painful.

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Ah, a love-hate relationship based on superficial looks and the deep piercing burning feeling of thistle thorns piercing my body parts while walking through the fields. Oh joy!

Fortunately pigs love thistles too and they seem to have not problem with the thorns. They eat the thistles up, top to bottom, even digging up the roots. The result is there are no thistles out in the fields where the pigs graze. This one pictured above is by our front gate with my day lilies. I’ll let it grow and bloom but collect the seed so it doesn’t spread.

Outdoors: 68°F/54°F 1″ Rain, Partially Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/63°F

Daily Spark: Once you have learned to ride a bike, no matter how long you stop you can still fall off.

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor…

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3 Responses to Thistle Love

  1. Alexander says:

    Hi,
    I was wondering if you trained them to eat thistles or had an advise about using pigs to root up thistles. My hogs have never seemed to enjoy thistles. They all either dig craters and destroy everything, or are so gentle that they don’t end up hurting thistles. In the past I have raised Yorkshire, commercial crosses (worst pigs ever), and Large Black/ GOS crosses. This year I have F2 Mangalitsa/Red Wattle Crosses. The seem to be long-snouted critters maybe they will attack the thistle infested field. Any way, any advise for clearing a field infested with thistles while favoring pasture grasses is much appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Alexander

    • We didn’t train them to eat thistles, burdock, blackberry canes, maple, etc. In fact, I was rather surprised that they did eat them and so eagerly. We get very little rooting. I observe that rooting is controlled by a number of factors as described in the article Rootless in Vermont. Our pigs are Yorkshire, Berkshire, Large Black and Tamworth purebred lines plus our Mainline and Blackieline crosses. I notice no difference between longer and shorter snouted pigs, or between the various breeds, regarding rooting or grazing.

      To train them to eat burdock, thistles and other plants you might try coating them with some honey, molasses or other sticky sweet as well as mixing some chopped into other feeds so they learn the flavor.

  2. PV says:

    Did you know that th artichokes are related to thisles? I love artichokes in butter or mayo. Maybe this is like that for the pigs.

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