Development of an innovative forage crop system for pasture raised swine

2012 Annual 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

Development of an innovative forage crop system for pasture raised swine


Develop a system of organically produced dryland forage crops for growing swine, well suited to the South and that can be grown on farm with the pigs. These crops would provide the proper dietary nutrients for health and rapid growth of the pigs. The farrowing and weaning of the growing pigs would be timed with the maturation of the crops. The crops will be highly palatable in the raw forage condition and work in rotation to sustain or improve soil health. Foraging the crop will reduce purchased feed, eliminate or reduce harvesting and storage while lowering transportation costs. It will increase profitability while dramatically improving the sustainability of the farm.

Objectives/Performance Targets

– Determine viability of crop(s) for use as a forage crop for growing pigs.
– Develop forage control methods to regulate the consumption of the crop(s) by the pigs.
– Compare the growth of forage pigs against a control group of pigs on feed.
– Compare carcass quality of forage pigs against a control group of pigs on feed.


We planted peanuts and milo and established a good beginning stand. We encountered very significant deer pressure prior to the peanut crop reaching maturity. The deer ate the tops off the entire first and second crop of peanuts destroying the forage stand. We found that peanuts planted early in the season had a very slow growth rate as compared to the milo planted at the same time. The peanuts started growing quickly only after soil temperatures reached 80 degrees. We determined that the early forage crop should be southern peas and milo to have sufficient forage available in the spring followed by peanuts/milo for summer forage when the soil is warmer.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

We will use southern field peas and milo for the first forage crops followed with peanuts and milo for the second forage crop. Field peas are high in protein and amino acids like peanuts but grow better in cooler soil. We will install a temporary double electric fence around the crop to deter the deer from destroying the crops before the pigs can forage. The same electric fence will keep the forage pigs contained and regulate their access to the forage crops.


Val Vetter
Piney Woods Ranch
P.O. Box 381
Winnsboro, TX 75494
Office Phone: 9036293332
Ron Franks
5767 FM 2339
Murchison, TX 75778
Office Phone: 9034693990