Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Operation Pig Food

Posted by Rosie

One of the reasons we have Kune Kune pigs is that they will quite happily graze on grass. However, one of our fields isn't suitable for pigs, being too far away from the house and not being enclosed with sufficiently pig proof fencing, and we don't quite have enough grass with the other fields to feed them grass all year round. So we supplement their diet with bought in pig food but obviously if we can reduce this it keeps our costs down. Hence, Operation Pig Food:-

1. Cut grass - as long as it is fresh (especially in hot weather) pigs can safely eat mown grass, so our grass areas get cut in stages and the cuttings fed to the pigs daily. Various neighbours have also helped out donating their cuttings.
2. Weeds - despite my best efforts I always seem to grow an impressive crop of weeds. The pigs certainly don't mind my slovenly gardening habits and munch their way through all the weeds I pull out.
3. Vegetables - anything that fails, goes to seed or in anyway isn't any good for us to eat becomes pig food (with the exception of cabbages which Boris doesn't like!)
4. Sugar Beet - this year I read somewhere of someone growing sugar beet for pigs and found the local agricultural merchant sold large boxes of seed for less than 10€. Simon immediately set to dividing Boris' pen into 2 and dug over the half he was now kept out of, with the digger. After a bit of searching he found a rotavator and broke the soil into a workable tilth ... just as the drought we suffered this Spring hit hard. Sowing seeds would be a complete waste of time so I waited ... and waited. April became May and May became June whilst the area got drier and drier. At last the rain did come and I was able to sow the seeds albeit very late. Now, I have a crop of not very large sugar beets but the pigs adore them and I will certainly grow these again next year, hopefully getting the seed in earlier.
Charlotte and her piglets feasting on apples
5. Apples - Normandy is famed for its apple orchards and we managed to pick, what must have been the only property in the region without an apple orchard. However, friends have a large orchard and don't want the apples. Enter me with lots of bags and we have pigs with the apple sauce already on the inside!
6. In the other half of Boris' pen, as well as the sugar beet, I also planted all my excess seeds potatoes, all my spare pumpkin seeds and some Chou lapin (a type of kale for animal feed) - unfortunately I lost a lot of the potatoes to blight but I have loads of pumpkins and some huge chou lapin to keep the pigs going through the Winter.
7. Sweetcorn - when the local farmers harvest their sweetcorn I try and get into the fields to glean the fallen cobs which the pigs adore. Some years there are lots to collect, others far fewer seem to fall. This year there are few to be had but with all the other pig foods we have it's not a major disaster.
8. Bread - a friend's husband is a supermarket manager and from time to time they get the bread order wrong - enter said friend with a large bag of old baguettes. Neighbours also save their excess bread but I have to admit we usually turn ours into bread and butter pudding.  Sorry pigs but I think there is enough with all these extras to ensure we have some very well fed pigs.

4 comments :

  1. I am currently in the silent section of the library (working hard evidently) and had to try very hard not to squeal like a little girl at the picture of the piglets! Little kune kune piggies!! So very cute. ...Okay, I'm done now.

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  2. Done with squealing or done with working?!

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  3. Aw...gorgeous piglets.

    I'm missing my Kune Kunes sooooooo much. yesterday I was making this years batch of Damson Gin Jam (from the damsons that have steeped in the gin for the last couple of months) and it brought back memories of last year when I gave all the gin soaked stones to the Kunes for a treat and they retreated to their ark for a drunken snooze, the snores were THE most impressive drunken piggy snores EVER!!

    It's amazing the list of foods you can give to a pig isn't it and they relish most things, and yours seem to be getting a marvelous selection. I'm really looking forward to getting some more pigs next year.

    Sue xx

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  4. I'm glad to hear you are getting more pigs next year. I haven't been regularly reading your blog (sorry)and I wasn't sure if you had decided to stop having them altogether. I too love our Kune Kunes, they are such characters.

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