As the cost of feed for the last 4 years has been 45-50% of our total cost of raising pigs, we are looking for more economical ways to feed pigs that still fit within our organic certification and also improve our soil. We will grow corn and field peas and let the pigs harvest it themselves. We will keep a control group separate that will be fed organic grain, in order to see the effects on growth rate of the pigs eating only corn and peas. We will seed cover crops after the pigs finish the corn and peas, and do it all again for a second season. We will take soil tests before and after to determine the effects on the soil.
Project objectives from proposal:
This project seeks to determine if hogging down corn and peas can substantially decrease pork production costs while maintaining or improving soil quality. Avoiding use of purchased feed will save us $2/pig/day, but we will have to weigh that against the difference in labor cost as compared to our control group of pigs on purchased feed. In addition we will need to measure pounds of liveweight gain in the two groups to determine if there is a difference in value increase of the pigs. Finally, we will measure the effect on the soil through soil tests before and after to look at soil physical parameters to determine if the practice of hogging down forages is improving soil health.