Goats and Pigs on Pasture, a Comparison of How the Two Types of Animals Contribute to Soil Fertility.

Progress report for FNC21-1260

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2021: $8,969.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2023
Grant Recipient: Guyver Growers LLC
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:
Henry Guyver
Little Red Henry Farm Products LLC
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Project Information

Description of operation:

14 acres of pasture split into two sections with goats on one side, pigs on the other, free range ducks and chickens on both. Family farm in operation since 1902. Before the grant farm was row cropped beans and corn and hardwood lumber.

Summary:

I would like to open sustainable alternatives to farm our family farm. The land has been row cropped for about 40 years and the soil consequently is low in N, P, and K, has reduced fungal activity, and is generally less fertile. It requires inputs to produce. I would like to improve the soil fertility of my family’s farm using livestock, namely pigs and goats. I will divide a 14 acre plot in half and rotationally graze pigs on one half and goats on the other.  Both species will be followed by mobile chicken/duck coops. I will test the soil before the animals are allowed on the plot and again before winter. The idea is to build a model by which I can improve the soil profitably, provide high quality, healthy meat and eggs locally, and reduce the use of artificial inputs. 

Project Objectives:
  1. Measure whether goats or pigs contribute more to soil fertility. 
  2. Through soil testing measure the varying ways each animal species contributes to soil fertility.
  3. Develop a model that can be used to expand the livestock operation and get more land on the mend and away from artificial inputs
  4. Release a monthly update video on YouTube that shows my progress with a final video at the end that summarizes my results and can be easily disseminated to interested parties.
  5. Share my project/process/result with other farmers at the Indiana Small Farm Conference and Southern and Northern Indiana Grazing Conferences.

Research

Materials and methods:

 Here I have included a hand drawing of how I plan to divide my field between the goats and pigs. The field is 14 acres and I’ll divide it equally between the two animals, goats towards the north side, pigs to the south (the top of the drawing is east). I’ve divided each half into 8 plots that I will rotate the animals through. Pigs will move weekly and the goats will be moved as soon as pasture is below 8” to help manage parasite loads. Rotation will continue until the end of the project - once pigs and/or goats reach unit 8 they will move on to unit 1 and on. 

Participation Summary
1 Farmer participating in research

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary:

Education/outreach description:

My project came to a premature end due to financial loss incurred by excessive rain and then drought. There was no information to relay to other farmers.

Learning Outcomes

Lessons Learned:

Unfortunately my project has come to a premature end. I started the project with little room for error after taking a total loss in hemp during covid. Excessive rain early in the season on a freshly planted pasture and then excessive drought late in the season meant I was unable to put my animals to pasture. The excessive cost of feed unsupplemented by pasture eventually forced me to sell all of my livestock and abandon farm life for a return to corporate salary. 

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.