Sustainable Silvopasture Hog Production Compared to Drylot System

Project Overview

FNC20-1253
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2020: $9,000.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2022
Grant Recipient: Grain Place Foundation
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Project Coordinator:
Raymond Hain
Grain Place Foundation

Commodities

  • Animals: swine

Practices

  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, free-range, grazing management

    Proposal summary:

    Silvopasture hog production can diversify enterprises and spread income sources through the year. Quality pasture and fallen fruits and nuts can reduce feed costs and lower supplemental by-product feeding from on-farm grain processing. After land shaping to improve drainage, fruit and nut trees will be planted in improved pasture with a quality species mix, and rotational grazing used in a 5.3 acre renovated pasture. Preliminary results have shown grazing hogs on this organic farm reaching sale weight of 275# at least two months sooner than drylot hogs fed only grain by-products on the same farm. If these outcomes are validated, we will introduce the grazing practice in a nearby two-replication, nine-year grain/pasture rotation. This will include tree planting in field boundaries as a supplemental feed source for hogs and a diversified habitat for beneficial insects. We will demonstrate the crop/animal system to area farmers on annual field days and disseminate results through Cooperative Extension. Trees and pasture fields will capture and cycle N (resource stewardship), provide higher profits (improved economics), and produce quality pork for sale to local community customers (social responsibility). The research and demonstrations will be accomplished on land of Grain Place Foundation in Nebraska’s Platte River Valley.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Evaluate the potential for silvopasture hog production on a renovated marginal field through improved drainage, quality pasture seeding, trees for shade and fruit/nut production, and combined forage and grain processing by-products as an on-farm feed source.
    2. Compare rates of gain and time to market weight of pastured hogs with a nearby drylot system using only grain by-products from the same source.
    3. Conduct two field-day demonstrations of the silvopasture system and disseminate results through multiple media and Cooperative Extension.
    4. If results are favorable, incorporate multiple-species grazing into an adjacent organic crop/pasture nine-year rotation experiment.
    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.