Winter Wood Chips

Winter Wood Chip Delivery

Wood chips make a good foundation for deep bedding pack. We put them down in layers, continuing to add more over the winter. This creates a composting pile of organic materials that soaks up fluids and generates heat to the pig’s bellies keeping them warm in the winters.

We have had a planned break from farrowing so we could work on finishing off the interior of the butcher shop. It is now officially Spring, although we’re still up on snow pack, and the sows have started farrowing.

The 40 cubic-yards (12 tons) of fresh wood chips were delivered and then immediately added to the nurseries before the sows were given access so as to increase the bedding pack such that they have nice nests for the coming litters of piglets.

Outdoors: 24°F/-4°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 65°F/59°F

Daily Spark: If you are living in a tent or yurt might be paying at tension.

About Walter Jeffries

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3 Responses to Winter Wood Chips

  1. Josh says:

    Love your site! We are new to pig farming and have taken over a herd of 25 Mulefoot and Guinea hogs. We have just purchased a wood chipper in an effort to thin back or forest and provide bedding for the pigs as well. Can you tell me, do you just use chips for the bedding or do you still add hay? I would prefer to just use chips but noticed there is a marked difference compared to hay as the pigs simply look much less comfortable with the way wood chips compact and generally lay flat. I initially stated with about 6-8 inches of wood chips and then plan to add as needed to keep things fresh.

    One thing I have noticed though is how Hay does little to keep the ground dry during rains and the chips appear to be working much better as they do tend to absorb the water and likely allow it to pass under and out as well.

    Anyway, any thoughts or advice would be great when you have a moment :)

    Thanks again for your dedication to this invaluable resource!


    • We use both wood chips and hay.

      The wood chips are primarily for bedding to provide good drainage especially in the lower layers. Larger wood chips are better than smaller wood chips for this purpose. Wood chips are especially good for the drainage issue and building up a deep bedding pack fast. That then composts providing heat under the pigs. The pigs pick through the wood chips and eat the chopped up brush buds they find just like in the summer they eat the growing tips of saplings. However, the wood chips are primarily for bedding.

      The hay is primarily for food although some of it (3% to 10%?) gets mixed in with the bedding and will end up going to compost. That isn’t waste since it will become soil amendment to help improve our poor soils in fields, orchards and gardens. The sows do build nests using the hay. They’ll go pickup mouthfuls of hay, take it to their nests, chop it up and pack it. Other pigs do sleep inside the hay during the worst cold of the winter and then they eat that hay down so it does have some value for bedding in the cold of winter. However, the primary purpose of the hay is food. Most (90% to 97%) of the hay gets eaten.

      We also use some kiln dried wood shavings which are good to add to nests once piglets are there.

      In some areas straw is another good resource for bedding and alfalfa flakes are another good resource for food – neither are things we have around here in any quantity.

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