320 acres, diversified crops (corn, soybeans, oats, amaranth, forages, woody crops), pasture farrow to finish 1100 hogs, and 25 stock cows.
Our farm has had numerous sustainable practices applied since 1983. Ridge till, narrow strip intercropping, planned grazing of our sow herd, and the planting of an agroforestry project are some of the key practices. We began using holistic resource management in 1992.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS
1) The stated goal of my project was to document the economic viability of an alternative pasture farrowing concept.
2) As stated in my proposal, I kept records on this farrowing idea. I weighed the stock, recorded farrowings, logged feed fed and hours of labor spent. I tracked 1 group in 1994 and 2 groups in 1995.
I took lots of colored pictures and made many into slides. A complete slide set was put together. This slide show covers all aspects of the operation. When I show this set to mixed groups of farmers, they all respond favorably. Established pasture farrowing farmers see new ideas. Beginning farmers see opportunities, and all of the viewers see an example of ecological and economically sound practices.
I gave a slide presentation in Illinois last year. A few days later, I received a copy of a livestock feeding project showing the value of high Lysine corn. I planted this type of corn in the project this year, and was very impressed with the impact. The Crows Hybrid Seed Co. also helped with information. I am including a letter from Mark Honeyman, Iowa State University Ag Research Director. Honeyman reviewed the proposal, brought a group of ISU researchers to visit the project, and gave me some good insights into the concept.
I can sum up the results with one short observation. My farm management notebook contains a plan to triple the size of this farrowing concept! My only reservation (with holistic resource management being my early warning criteria) is the possible lack of market access. What really excites me is the potential to turn our farm into a seasonal grass based swine operation. I see where I can use my experience with grazing to further cut cost and make this very complimentary with the rest of the farm.
[Editor’s Note: there is a chart showing data from the trials that could not be posted on the web. If you would like to see this chart please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 800-529-1342. Thanks]
This set up pays! It is sound towards our 3 part goal for our farm. If enough farmers see the potential for viable pasture farrowing operations, maybe we can stem the horrible tide of mega hog wastelands!
I speak to numerous farm groups across the country. They are interested in this project. I have included a list of some of the places where I have spoken.