Forest Site Preparation with Swine
The average cost for establishing a commercial timber stand in the piedmont and coastal areas of the South is $100 per acre. An outdoor swine operation may help to lower these costs and reduce the need for fertilization and chemical removal of undesirable vegetative growth. Swine raised in a forest environment may also benefit from the cooler temperatures provided under a forest canopy. There are over 4000 swine producers in North Carolina with herds less than 100 sows (67 percent of total swine operations). This project may provide valuable information for a large percentage of North Carolina swine operations.
The producer plans to determine if pigs raised under forest will improve the soil characteristics and fertility of a forested ecosystem and if pigs raised under forest will improve the long-term economic viability of small swine operations.
Marketable mature timber will be removed prior to the introduction of pigs. Five one-acre plots will be fenced off and five different stocking rates and animal weights will be investigated. An additional acre plot will serve as a control and seedlings will be planted after conventional site preparation in the third year.
Pig numbers will be adjusted according to the results desired and the ability of the ground cover to maintain nutrients from swine waste in test plots. Loblolly pine seedlings will be planted in the test plots after three years.