Consumer demand for safe, high quality organic pork products continues to grow significantly while farmers are reluctant to supply this demand primarily because of the high cost of traditional organic grains for feed. Moreover, keeping hogs healthy in an organic swine system is imperative, and implementing a cereal grain cover crop is a vital agronomic practice. This project aims to resolve those particular barriers through research, education and demonstration of the utilization of highly digestible cover crop ensilage by breeding and finishing swine in an integrated organic farming system. A cooperative network of community based, sustainable pig farmers, with an emphasis on young farmers, will perform the tasks of the project.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Research reduction in feed expense of organic swine operations by using homegrown cover crop ensilage.
- Maintain records of health, mortality and number of qualifying hogs while providing silage year-round.
- Research and demonstrate an economical and practical incorporation of highly digestible sustainably harvested cover crops in an integrated swine operation.
- Eliminate economic barriers for entry of young farmers into organic agriculture by reducing organic feed costs.
- Research and demonstrate adaptation of advancements in sustainable agriculture techniques pioneered in Europe including a feeding system which is adaptable to diverse needs.