Final Report for FS12-262
A forage system for pasture raised swine is difficult but still a possibility. Heavy deer population destroyed our peanut crop both years of the project. A forage system (at least in my area) must include significant and effective efforts to prevent crop failure when the deer eat all the tops off all the peanuts in any stage of growth.
The proposed system for forage crop system remain largely untried. Attempts to raise the crops succeeded only as far as planting and cultivating.
Groups of pigs were farrowed and tagged both years. Overlapping crop plantings of milo and peanuts were made. Early peanut planting dates resulted in good germination but very slow growth. Peanut growth improved as temperature increased but were all ultimately devistated by heavy deer pressure.
Sections of the test field were marked and planted with milo and peanuts. Different sections were planted with different ratios of the two crops. The first (early) section was planted 75% peanuts, 25% milo, second section was 50% peanuts and 50% milo, the third section was 25% peanuts and 75% milo. The percentages of crop planting in each section roughly matched the nutritional requirements of the pigs during their growth. (early development requires higher protein and amino acid levels than finishing hogs)
After the first year crop failure with very low rainfall and very significant deer damage many methods were employed to try to prevent the deer eating the tops off the peanuts. We installed additional electric fencing at 6′ above ground, flags and even employed predator urine scent on perimeter fencing to try to keep the deer out of the crop.
A forage system for swine will need several other components not considered initially.
1) Deer (or other wild game) may place heavy pressure on the crops. Successful techniques will need to be employed to reduce or eliminate access to the crops.
2) Successive plantings of forage crops will have very different growth and production rates based on seasonal effects. Different crops may need to be employed early, mid and late season based on the optimal planting times and temperature and moisture needs of the different crops. Different crops with different proten and amino acid levels will further complicate a forage system.
Educational & Outreach Activities
No publications were produced due to crop failure
Successful staged plantings produced initially good stands of crops. Milo was not heavily fed on by native deer population.
We learned that a forage crop system for swine must include many aspects:
-Nutritional needs of the animals during different stages of growth.
-Crop selection based on nutritional needs, optimal time and temperature needs and growth cycles/maturation timing could make a system overly complex and difficult to manage.
-A good forage crop will invite competition will attract indigenous wildlife which must be controlled to produce sufficient crop for the swine.
Successful deer control must be employed to produce a good forage stand for the swine.