Booth Acres Dairy

This is a grain truck delivering to the Booth Acres Dairy. I took this photo when we went over to watch him deliver. I was curious about how the truck worked. We were at Booth Bros. Dairy to pickup milk for our pigs when he arrived. I’ve seen the grain trucks on the road but never before actually gotten a chance to watch one in operation delivering the grain.

The way it works is the driver opens the top of the feed bin on the side of the barn by pulling on a rope. Then he raises the long hollow boom pipe so that it is over the opening in the feed bin. A screw inside the boom spins driving the grain up the pipe. The grain then falls into the bin. It was much quieter than I expected and not particularly dusty. I had expected there would be more dust thrown out as the feed went in.

The reason I was curious about this was at one point we had considered getting commercial feed delivered for our pigs. We never did go that route and I’m glad for many reasons. Still, it was interesting to get a chance to finally see one of those trucks in operation. Curiosity satiated.

You might notice there is white stuff on the ground. On Tuesday we had a snow storm that dumped 6″ of new snow here. Unfortunately that was the day we were supposed to go to three meetings about the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). When we are getting large amounts of snow and have zero visibility we don’t leave the mountain so we missed all the meetings. I know a lot of other people did too. Spring weather can be full of surprises. Today is Saturday and we still have snow coverage although someone who dropped by today said that the snow is all gone in town.

Note that this coming Tuesday there is a public hearing about Premise ID in Montpelier on March 11th. If you are in Vermont, please come!

Tuesday: 38째F/19째F, Mostly Sunny.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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6 Responses to Booth Acres Dairy

  1. J&B says:

    Thanks for the picture – I always wondered how that worked! Curious though – you mentioned you thought of using commercial feed and have not done so. I don’t suppose I could inquire as to your reasoning . . . could I?

  2. K.C. says:

    Just had a question about your pigs. I was always told that pigs bore holes in the pasture and that’s why most are kept penned up. Do you find this to be the case?

    I would love to raise a female piglet and eventually breed her, but I don’t have a secure place and have been afraid to put her out with my Mini Jersey for fear the pig would eventually dig holes that my cow might then step in and break a leg.

  3. J&B;, the number one reason we did not go with commercial feed for our pigs is simply cost. In addition to that there are the following considerations: I would have to buy or build storage for the grain, the grain is not as good a food, I don’t want to feed Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) if I can avoid it, grain trucks go farm to farm and could spread disease, I have a source of free milk and cheese trim, I have lots of pasture and pigs that eat hay & pasture smell better – same as with cows and humans who get enough fiber. :)

  4. K.C., the pigs root the most in the spring and then the sows do a little just before farrowing. If they have plenty of space they don’t root very deep, just a light surface tilling of a few inches that is good for the pasture. We run chickens behind them which smooth the soil back down although it will smooth down quickly of its own accord from the action of gravity and rain.

    On the other hand, if you want them to till they’ll do the job just grand. Simply confine them into a small area, say 10 good sized pigs in 165 sq-ft (40×40 area enclosed in poultry netting for example) for a week or so. They’ll dig it right good down to about 6″. Then again run the chickens through behind them. The chickens will smooth and weed the soil. Then move the chickens out and immediately plant. This gives a virtually weed free garden that has been tilled, fertilized and raked smooth. We do this all the time. I do not own a mechanical tiller but we have large gardens. The pigs and chickens do most of the work for us.

    I can’t guarantee that they won’t dig a hole someone will fall into but none of our pigs dig holes deeper than a few inches the vast majority of the time. I was just out walking in the south pasture and there was one spot they had dug down about 5″. Mostly it is a matter of turning the soil over. We keep our pigs and sheep together. We don’t have cows, yet.

    I your email you had asked two more questions, what breed is best and if castration is necessary.

    Ours are Yorkshire+. That is the only kind I know. Ours probably have a little bit of Glouster Old Spot and Tamworth in them based on the occasional interestingly colored piglets. It is the same as we had with cousins when I was a kid. I’ve never dealt with other breeds. These sell very well and do excellently on pasture.

    I think the trick is get a few from someone who is doing it as close as possible to how you want to do it. Then cull any that don’t work out and eat those. Breed the others. Over time you’ll get what you want. That is what we’ve done. From talking with other people who’ve done it a long time, most any breed will do. One note is down in the south like Texas, etc where there is intense sun I have read that white pigs get sunburn if they don’t have access to mud and shade. We don’t seem to have any problem with that here in the north.

    On the castration, I’m doing experiments with not cutting the males. You can read about it in these two articles: To Cut or Not? and Boar Meat.

    So far I would say one does not need to castrate. Read the above articles though for full details of what I have found so far.

  5. KS Milkmaid says:

    We now have pigs…six of them. Uhh…they smell. I am getting used to it though. Oh they are so fun to watch. I am amazed at what they have rooted up in the little area we put them in. I would like to range them. Do you use electrified fencing? I was thinking of something like a portable green house but I know they are horribly destructive.

  6. Milkmaid, do you feed your pigs hay or give them access to pasture? The carbon in the hay and grass binds the nitrogen reducing the smell. The fiber is good for their diet just like it is for you. If you feed just commercial feed (grain based) the pig poops are pretty stinky. If you also free feed hay or let them out on pasture then it is not an issue, their poops smell more like healthy cow or sheep poops.

    If you are keeping them penned rather than on pasture then there is the issue that their stomping grounds are buildling up too much manure. Spread hay, straw or wood chips to work carbon into it.

    We use electric fencing. Initially you need to train pigs, like with any animal, to the electricity. Do this by putting them in a securely physically fenced area and putting electric fencing inside that. Polywire works good for this. Then after a couple of weeks they can go out on pasture in electric fencing and should be fine.

    Two wires is usually enough, three is safer. For wire heights figure low nose position and high nose position as they are walking.

    My favorite fencing is the High Tensile wire. Electric HT smooth wire around the fields in 4 strands (sheep and pigs here). Around the garden a combo of electric HT smooth wire and then HT woven wire or chicken wire (cheap but works).

    Polywire also works great on step in posts for temporary fencing, field divisions, etc.

    Another very good trick is using electrified poultry netting. Check out where I have gotten it in the past. Pigs are very respectful of it once they get trained to electricity and it will even keep in little piglets who are the hardest ones to fence. This is a better solution than moveable greenhouses or ‘pig’ tractors.

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