Miner and Digger


Miner and Digger

Most of our pigs don’t root particularly much contrary to the classic myth of the pig. Rather they tend to graze the easy foods at the surface like grasses, clovers, brassicas and other forages. I’ve written before about some ideas of why in Root Less in Vermont. These two piglets are the exception to the exception of the myth. They root a lot. Regular robo-rooters….
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I haven’t figured out why they root so much. I’ve tried adding kelp to their whey to see if perhaps they are not getting enough minerals. These two are in the small cottage hospice paddock as they kept coming out onto the driveway. I had noticed that even when these two were out in the field they rooted more than other piglets. Other piglets who have had a stay in the hospice haven’t rooted this much. So it isn’t situation or diet. One of them is a Tamworth x Mainline and the other is a pure bred Tamworth so it isn’t likely to be genetics.

Will and Ben just secured a space out in the south field where they can be for a week to re-home them and then we’ll try them out in the field again to roam with the sounds of other piglets.

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor…

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12 Responses to Miner and Digger

  1. matt pearson says:

    Is that a trait that you would prefer to breed out?

  2. Steve McGrane says:

    Have you thought of using hog rings? I have a lot of rooters that I got to root, but I’ve read about them. I’d rather have non-rooting genetics than hog rings, but sometimes “its the nature of the beast”

    • Out of thousands of pigs these are the only two serious rooters I’ve seen so hog rings would be a waste of time and money as well as the issue of them being inhumane. See the article about Root Less linked to above.

  3. skeptic7 says:

    Why were these pigs seperated out to begin with? Perhaps one of them is doing it out of boredom or individual crankiness and the other one is joining in out of solidarity.

    • These two weaner pigs were brought in to the hospice as a holding area because they kept disrespecting the fences and coming out onto the driveway – they weren’t staying with the herds. That happens once in a while. They were already digging, as noted above, before going into the hospice so it wasn’t boredom. I’ve marked them as feeders so they won’t stay as breeders. Ranging outside the fence, what we term Houdinism, and excessive digging are not traits I want to select for.

  4. am in the pm says:

    Coming soon to a kitchen near you ,2 rooters.

  5. Ed Allison says:

    Roaster rooters.

  6. Patrick says:

    I let ten Berkshires into a new forage area last week. It’s already been rooted out pretty good in spots and the whole thing will be dug out in now time. These guys are about 250 each right now.

    I raise them in wooded areas, so there are lots of underground things they like to eat. Given the choice between commercial “candy” feed and grubs & tubers, they go nose to earth every time. The first few days when I move them to a new, undisturbed area – the commercial feed use goes to near zero. Then they wander back, but eventually tear things up.

    In my case I don’t mind. I used to manage those same areas with a DR Bushhog (too many big trees for the tractor to be nimble). I’d only get to them once every few years. The little beech and oak saplings turned a gentle meadow glade into a mini-forest in no time. Letting these gents “hog down” the mess has been a salvation.

    However, if I were rotating fields I think it’d be a problem. My little operation is nothing like Walter’s. We got lots of woods to play in before we end up with a problem.

    One thought: Vermont is rock-crazy. I am basically sitting on a sand pile in the Bay. Maybe “rooters” are less interested in working the rocks than they would be in the loam and sand we have?

    In other words, I wonder how many of your no-till hogs would revert to form if they didn’t have to work so hard for it?

    • That’s a good question, how much does soil type effect rooting behavior. See the article Rootless in Vermont for some thoughts. We are rock crazy as a state however our land is patchy. There are areas that are bedrock just under a thin layer of soil, others that are deep soil (well, several feet anyways) and nearly rock free. Some are sandy, some are gravelly. Some areas are peaty, marshy and just plain nice mud. This variety is caused by the glaciers that dumped piles of various materials after shaving the mountain tops around here about 15,000 years ago during the last ice age. Apparently it was a pretty dismal landscape for a while afterwards, a few thousand years, but then the lichens, brush and eventually the grasses and trees came back. The land heals from amazing abuse. Not even the two mile thick layer of ice could stop life in the long run. *grin*

      • Patrick says:

        I grew up in Upstate NY and scrambled over northern rocks the first half of my life. So much that I found out it was actually as port, and took up more regimented climbs when I lived out west, where the mountains made my New York verticals seem like tiny hills.

        But here in the mid-Atlantic Bay area, if the kids find a rock in our woods they actually ask to set it aside. They are almost always scuffed and work down by the sand and time to resemble dinosaur eggs. In the last five years, our nest of eggs is maybe ten large. Much less than a pack of raptors.

        As you can imagine, I don’t climb much anymore. But my kids like climbing walls, so the wife asked me again last week to build one in the barn, “or something.”

        When it comes to my wife, I live by the ‘rule of two’: if she asks two years running, I eventually do it; if she asks more than twice in one night, do it right now.

        The climbing wall has been an idea for two years now. Ahem.

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