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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New Additions

This week, we added what we hope to be the last of our breeding sows for at least a couple years. Our goal is to produce 120-150 finished pastured hogs a year. To do this, we figure we will need 8 sows to get the job done. We breed Hampshires, Yorkshires, and Blue Butts. We had four sows, 2 Yorkshires, 1 Blue Butt, and 1 Hampshire. We added 1 Yorkshire, and 3 Blue Butts. The Yorkshire will be ready to breed in a month, and the Blue Butts will be ready in about 2-3.

Nothin like pig butts

Dirt under the feet

I buy my breeding stock from a breeder of show pigs. Unfortunately, his pigs are confinement pigs and I hate going there every time. It is so sad looking at the eyes in the poor pigs, beat down, tired, broken. The joy it gives to bring these girls home and allowing them to be on dirt for the first time. To let them root around, using their noses, to waller in the mud, and run around with lots of room. For the next few days, they will be in a pen letting them get use to the other sows through a hog panel and plus they will be very sore from walking in the dirt, using their neck muscles. This gives them a place to lay around and get use to the true happy farm life without the other girls picking on them while they are sore. Then they will move out into the pastures with the other sows.

First time they had ever been allowed to roll in the mud

Lucy our veteran sow laying in the mud

2 of our newly bred sows. We raised these two from piglets and were suppose to butcher them but we decided to keep them for breeding stock.

Getting acquainted through the fence. The older sows are pretty dominant over the new younger ones if introduced into the same pen right off.

Smooch, thanks for the new home out of confinement.

Since we now have so many sows, feeding has been a bit challenging. You can only imagine going inside the pen with these girls, and boys and trying to get bowls on the ground without them clobbering you. Plus for some reason, they will just go back and forth from bowl to bowl running the younger sows off from their food.

So I had to come up with a system for feeding them where we won't have to get in there with them until they are actually eating. In came the stalls. So far, they work great. Each gets to eat their own food without someone else coming over and knocking them away from it.

Could you put some food in here please?

My bud the Dud chillin out of the rain. (If new to the blog, his name is Dudley.)

The egg trailer is done and up and running. Although they aren't laying yet, they are at least starting to get in it and roost. I'm hoping that by the time the cows rotate back around, they will all have found their way into it. Happy hoping I think.


Ron said...

I thought I might be the only guy that had a love affair with his pigs. LOL

I had read a lot about raising pigs, but I was not prepared for the GUSTO they have when allowed to do what pigs are meant to do! I always pictured them as sad, dejected, docile creatures laying in the mud of a pen that was tiny. Then I witnessed mine galloping across their big pen. Ha!

That's a cool feeding station you set up. Awesome egg-mobile too.

Take care,

Farmer Brad said...

I happened to be driving by Monday and unmistakably noticed your place on the south side of the road. Grazing cattle, chicken tractors, beautiful! The only REAL agriculture on the landscape between us and Conroe! I would have stopped by, but it was around dinner time.

Keep up the good work!

Kramer said...

Ron, your right, nothing is more funny than seeing a 300# animal with 12" legs trying to be graceful when it jumps around. Kinda like the hippo in the ballerina suit.

Thanks Brad. It has been such a blessing this week getting the rain we have. Since Friday, we have received 2.7". Wow, how the grasses respond. Please feel free to stop by anytime. It doesn't matter what time of day it is.

Anonymous said...

Hi , Jason
just read through your story on the 45 cattle pastures ... how did you solve the drinking water issue for the cattle in moving so fast ? Do you have a water wagon ?
Thanks for a great blog !!
Andreas (Austria / Europe)

Kramer said...


I have underground waterlines to each of the paddocks. When I cut the paddocks into smaller ones, I just use a longer hose so that I can move the water trough around. We don't like our cows drinking from ponds so we always provide them with fresh well water.

Thanks for taking the time to read our blog. Its amazing that people across the world can be a part of someones farm that is so far away.

Rich said...

In the background of one of your pictures, I noticed that you have some cedar trees in your pig paddocks.

I've read that feral hogs will seek out creosote treated posts to rub on, (and they are also attracted to diesel for some reason), and I have wondered if that might mean that pastured pigs would be "attracted" enough to cedar trees to help control them in some way.

Of course, a big cedar tree would make a good shelter for the pigs even if they didn't help get rid of them.

Also noticed what looks like a bale of hay close to one of your feeders, are your pigs actually eating hay in the same way that Walter Jeffries describes on his blog?

Kramer said...


I haven't noticed anything with the cedar trees thus far other than the fact that they do enjoy bedding under them. They do make good natural shelters for them.

Funny you ask about the hay. I started putting busted bales out for them just to see what they would do with them. Break it up, bed in it, eat it, etc. I put a large round bale with my sows and boar, and within 6 months, it disappears. I guess some is stomped down but I hope they are eating it. I have never officially caught them just standing and eating it though.

Well yesterday, while out in the field with the topper hogs, I noticed that they had eaten much of several of the bales I had out there. I actually caught them going inside of them and eating the hay. This was fascinating to me. So yes, the hogs do eat hay, and will actually go to it when green grass is provided.

So I think I am going to try a new ration of feed. I want to find an old grinder and start mixing in some good quality square bales with our organic grain rations. I don't know if it will work, or they will take to it, but it is worth a try until the high grain costs subside. Especially with certified organic grains. Thanks for questions.

Anonymous said...

Yeah! An update.

My life is complete (for now)

Js Dad

Rich said...

"...I want to find an old grinder and start mixing in some good quality square bales with our organic grain rations..."

I wonder if what would be considered a good quality hay for hogs is different than what would be considered a good quality hay for cattle?

My "gut feeling" was that something like a Haygrazer-type of sorghum hay would be more suitable for hogs due to the higher sugar content that is supposed to be present in forage sorghum.

Why not just "spike" the bales with something like corn (in a modified Pigaerator method) and feed it alongside their regular feed instead of grinding and mixing it with their feed?

Pauline Disciple said...

Hi Jason,

I am a wanna be agrarian and all the experience I have is from a year in the FFA with a sow. Anyway to get to the point, I stumbled on your blog today and I really enjoy your posts. So just saying keep up the good work and God Bless!

Justin Hyde said...

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Pamela said...

Oh my, how my mouth is watering for fresh pig! In the fall, various people in the valley here butcher their hogs. So delicous!

And that egg-mobile. I LOVE IT! Talk about first class, your hens are definitely living the dream!

Amy - "Twelve Acres" said...

Now I know where the term "hog heaven" comes from. Those sows look so happy in the mud. I agree, pigs should be pastured, not living on concrete.

Anonymous said...

I thought you were going to paint something funny over the doors on your chickenmobile? :)

Walter Jeffries said...

Interesting solution on your feeding problem along the fence. We simply have the food out free feed all the time: pasture, bales of hay in the winter, whey in 300 gallon troughs. Since it is always there they don't fight over it. Glad to see pigs out on the pastures.