Profitably and Sustainably Converting Underutilized Forested Areas to Fertile Perennial Silvopasture Systems Using Swine

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2023: $11,533.00
Projected End Date: 11/15/2024
Grant Recipient: Skyline Pastures
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
Charles Lafferty
Skyline Pastures

Information Products

Farm Walk Trifold (Bulletin)


  • Agronomic: grass (misc. perennial)
  • Animals: swine


  • Animal Production: grazing - rotational
  • Crop Production: silvopasture

    Proposal summary:

    Many farms have neglected or under-utilized forest or brush areas that currently serve only as windbreaks and dividers for row-cropped fields. We will develop a flexible template farmers can use when planning to raise pigs in these areas, increasing fertility and developing an additional income stream. The pigs will rotate through a series of electric fenced temporary paddocks in which they will disturb the soil and remove existing brush. We will then move the pigs, over-seed the paddock with a pasture mix, and plant fodder trees along the paddock edges.  The pigs will spread fertility in the form of manure while supplementing their feed with native flora and fauna.  Soil samples and vegetative data will be collected before and after the pigs utilize a paddock to determine what plants the pigs consume and how soil fertility is affected.  The paddock will then rest until the following year and the process will be repeated.  The research data collected will be published in an open source google document.  This project will quantify the inputs and stocking densities necessary to profitably produce high-quality pork while creating more resilient and sustainable wooded areas through conversion to silvopasture.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Our primary objective is to demonstrate a repeatable system where farmers can utilize wooded areas of their farms to raise pigs, improve the fertility of the wooded areas, increase the productivity of their farm, and add a profitable enterprise to their existing businesses. The secondary objective is to document which seed mixes and tree types do best in these paddocks to aid farmers in cultivar selection for their own properties. We will gather data through tree and plant surveys as well as soil tests to ensure farmers have the data necessary to tailor our results to their context.

    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.