Development of an innovative forage crop system for pasture raised swine

Final Report for FS12-262

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2012: $8,303.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Southern
State: Texas
Principal Investigator:
Ron Luce
Poppa Skinny's Farm
Expand All

Project Information

Abstract:

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.

Introduction

The proposed system for forage crop system remain largely untried.  Attempts to raise the crops succeeded only as far as planting and cultivating.

Project Objectives:

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.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand

Research

Materials and methods:

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.

Research results and discussion:

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.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary

Education/outreach description:

No publications were produced due to crop failure

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

Successful staged plantings produced initially good stands of crops.  Milo was not heavily fed on by native deer population.

Recommendations:

Potential Contributions

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.

Future Recommendations

Successful deer control must be employed to produce a good forage stand for the swine.

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.