Pigs in the Turnips Patch
Yesterday evening I opened up the gate into the almost one acre plateau in the south field. It is mostly turnips and beets with some cabbages, mangles, radishes, pumpkins and other crops. The pumpkins have been dismal but the root crops and cole crops have done well along with the clover.
The pigs were very excited. Once they were clear that the electric fence was no longer blocking the way they rushed in to forage. The leafy tops were their first pick with roots being saved for later. Over the next two weeks they’ll clean that garden up, till it, fertilize it and prepare it for winter. The farmer we buy round bales of hay from will deliver about then. The trees are changing color. The hills are wearing their coat of many colors. Winter is coming but hopefully not too quickly. We have a lot of projects we want to close in before the temperatures plummet and the hard snows come.
Update: The pigs cleared the one acre of turnips and other root & cole crops in about seven days. There were about 40 big pigs averaging about 600 lbs each plus about 80 smaller grower pigs averaging perhaps 50 pounds each. This comes to about 28,000 pounds of pigs or about 140 finisher pig equivalents. Thus the one acre of is enough food for 980 days of dining. Do realize that the root crops and their tops were not the pig’s only diet during this time. They also had access to pasture in section one of the south field and they had free access to whey. The turnip patch was only one part of their diet.
Still, it is interesting as it gives an idea of how much land would be necessary to feed a pig supplemental food in addition to the dairy and pasture/hay. Useful for figuring out how much I might need to plant to take us through the low time of the fall and winter.
300 pig equivalents x 180 days = 54,000 pig feeding days over the cold season.
Divided by 980 days of dining per acre => 55 acres to supply enough turnips and such as the pigs would choose to eat in a free feeding situation along with pasture/hay and dairy. That is more than I have available.
Flip that around and one acre of turnip patch is enough to feed up about 5 pigs when they also have free access to pasture/hay and dairy.
One thing to keep in mind is that about half of that ‘turnip patch’ was planted in pumpkins which failed this year. Lots of vines but almost no fruit. Had the pumpkins not been there we would have had more turnips. Had the pumpkin crop flourished we would have had more food from that one acre. In any case, the above numbers represent a reasonable reality since one must plant a diverse set of crops to allow for the potential failure of any crops. One can’t plan for perfect plantings. Reality is.
Outdoors: 62°F/42°F Mostly Cloudy, Spots of Sun, Light Evening Rain
Tiny Cottage: 69°F/62°F