feeder pigs |
A "feeder" animal is a weaned baby that is purchased to be grown out by the farmer for meat. This is pretty common practice for pigs, but I do this with sheep as well so that I don't have to keep breeding stock over the winter.
pig feed |
I buy non-GMO pig feed grown in the Hudson Valley. It is mostly made up of corn and soy, with a few other things thrown in there to make sure the pigs are getting a balanced diet. Every bag of feed has a tag on it listing its contents and nutrition facts like percentage protein.
Waddles are the dangly fleshy bits that hang from some pigs' jaws. As far as I know they're vestigial and are just there for cuteness. Some of my pigs have them and they likely had a grandpa that was a Red Wattle.
Pigs have one stomach, just like humans. Their nutritional needs are very similar to ours. This is a big part of why pigs are great at converting leftover vegetables, grains and whey from cheese making into muscle and fat.
Cows and sheep are both ruminants. This means they have four stomachs and are able to ferment grass into muscle and fat which is pretty magical.
ewes vs. rams vs. whethers |
Ewes are female sheep. Rams are male sheep with all of their parts. Whethers are males sheep that have been castrated.
lamb vs. mutton |
Lamb is the meat from a sheep that is less than one year old. Mutton is the meat from a sheep that is more than two years old - usually this is a momma sheep that is no longer going to be bred for some reason. Hogget is the meat from a sheep that is between one and two years old. But no one really talks about hogget in the U.S. - it is just fun to say.
I buy adult female cows to graze with the sheep. A flock of sheep plus a herd of cows is a flerd. This is not common practice on the East Coast, but it is more popular out West. My primary objective is for the cows to "babysit" the lambs and protect them from coyotes. Also hamburgers.
My cows are older breeding cows that I buy from other farmers. I don't milk them because I don't have the right infrastructure or man hours for it.
electric fencing |
I use portable electric fencing for both the pigs and the flerd. It is easy to set up by myself and is powered by a giant battery attached to a solar panel in what looks like a metal suitcase. The whole unit is called a charger. This past summer one of my chargers got hit by lightening! It took a pig escaping for me to figure that one out .
This is the area of land sectioned off for the animals by the electric fence at any given time. The flerd stays in a paddock for up to four days and the pigs stay in a paddock for 2-3 weeks.
This is land with grass and other plants growing out of it that a cow would like to eat.
management intensive grazing |
This is the style of grazing that I practice. It is the best way to get the most food for your animals out of the pasture (The sheep in this video are very excited to eat new grass). I make a grazing plan every year and calculate how much grass my animals will need to gain enough weight and how much land I will need to make sure that there is enough grass.