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pigs as weed control(poison ivy) and rototillers

   Prairie Dock Farm/CSA   May 1997     Pigs and Weeds

        I can attest to the fact that pigs will eliminate poison ivy, or
just about anything else you pen them in with.  At Prairie Dock Farm we have
been using Tamworth hogs in a pastoral grazing/cultivating system for a
couple of years now. Sheep and chickens are grazed through a paddock,
followed by pigs and chickens.  When the pigs have finished rooting, we seed
with an appropriate cover crop, let the pigs stompple it in, move them off
and irrigate.  It produces wonderful stands of covercrop/pasture, and the
tractor never even came out of the shed.  

	This system also works with most any nasty weed patch you may have.  It is
limited only by your creativity with electric fencing.  Pigs once taught,
develop a healthy respect for an electric fence.  A single strand is usually
enough as long as they have sufficient food and water....(boars can be
another matter).  Once securely fenced the pigs can be induced into the
worst of places with a scoop of corn.  One need only pour corn on any
particular 'nasty' and it disappears.

	We also use the pigs in our composting program.  Our farm is DNR certified
to compost 40,000 cubic yards of yard waste per year.  When pasture is
unavailable we pen the Tams in the leaf windrow area.  Again with corn as an
incentive, hogs can be used to replace expensive compost turning machinery,
and turn a tasty profit.

	We choose Tamworth howgs for a few reasons.  First they are a heritage
animal.  This is the animal version of a heirloom vegetable, that being they
are rare and we are in danger of losing their genetic heritage.
	Second, Tams are noted for their rooting ability, pasturing capability,
variety of diet, hardiness, mothering instincts, and with a great
personality.  This is the type of hog your great, great grandparents
probably raised.
	Third, they have as good a feed conversion rate as most pigs.  An added
benefit is they are a very lean pig.  This coupled with being raised
organically, on pasture hits a nice niche market.

	The pigs and other animals have become a big attraction at the farm with
the membership and local schools.  I think it really makes an impression on
a young person to see and touch a farm animal. This is the type of
experience children need to be exposed to at a young age to develop a
respect for nature and life.  

	 We do rent these critters if you live in our area and meet a few safety
criteria.  A one day internship is necessary to avoid the occurrence of
unpleasant situations.  Sales are available too.  Write for details. 

			Greg, from the Farm...Goodnight.