- Agronomic: corn
- Vegetables: beans
- Animals: swine
- Animal Production: feed/forage, housing, parasite control, manure management, pasture fertility, winter forage
- Crop Production: agroforestry, nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers, tissue analysis
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, focus group, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
- Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, community-supported agriculture, value added
- Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems
- Soil Management: earthworms, organic matter, soil analysis, composting
Small-scale hog producers may be able to secure a place at the pork industry table by producing for niche markets. Selection emphasis should be placed on boars that sire market hogs containing more desirable pork color and higher levels of intra-muscular fat. Farmers may be able to market a “Porgue de Season” by feeding excess farm produce (i.e. cherries, pumpkins, acorns). With proper stocking rates and plot rotation, Integrated crop/animal systems may enable farmers to: 1) improve timber stands, 2) develop organic soils, and 3) utilize excess produce to develop a niche-market pork that is unique to that farm.
1. Examine potential for small-scale farmers to produce niche market pork using alternative diets, breeds and rearing environments.
2. Examine the potential for developing organic vegetable plots in rotation with swine raised on dirt lots in order to: a) monitor retention, accumulation and/or availability of N, P, K, Zn and Cu from swine waste mixed with leaf mulch vs. conventional dirt lot, and b) evaluate potential transfer of zoonotic diseases from swine waste with leaf mulch.
3. Examine two stocking rates of gestating sows (6/A and 18/A) in a forest environment to evaluate: a) reproductive performance of sows bred and gestating in a sylvan environment with those raised in conventional dirt lots, b) rooting behavior and manure deposition of swine on forest vegetation for enhancing growth in an existing stand or in preparation of a more marketable future stand, and c) effects of swine on survival, composition and condition of under-story and canopy vegetation.
4. Explore avenues to increase profitability by promoting the unique characteristics of the “pasture raised” product as well as the small farmer production system.