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Methods of Feeding Forage

Pasture is the most likely method that forages will be fed in a small scale operation. Pastures containing a high percentage of legumes will work well for swine production.
The best time to graze optimizes plant height for yield and forage maturity for quality. Photo by: Kaytee Norris and Emily McConnell

The best time to graze optimizes plant height for yield and forage maturity for quality. Photo by: Kaytee Norris and Emily McConnell

Some grasses can be kept in the mix for soil conservation.  Stocking rates depend on soil productivity, but typically 4-6 gestating sows per acre or 10-12 growing hogs per acre will effectively use the pasture without excessive damage.  It is recommended to supplement sows with a complete feed at 2-3 pounds per head per day while on pasture.  Hogs have a tendency to root soil, especially in the spring and fall.  It may be necessary to periodically till and re-establish pastures every few years.  This will also help reduce bacterial and parasite contamination. If grazing legumes, allow time for regrowth in the fall before killing frost to allow the plant time to rebuild energy levels to over-winter.

Hay made from forage crops that are cut and dried for storage can be fed to hogs.  This works best if the hay is ground and included in a complete feed. Haylage and baleage are forage crops that are cut and dried to around 50% moisture and then either stored in a silo or baled and wrapped with plastic.  As with hay, feeding haylage works best if it is ground before feeding.  Avoid feeding any haylage that appears moldy as this can cause reproductive problems.  Sows can be fed all the legume haylage they will consume, which will be around 6-8 pounds per head per day.  It is also recommended to feed 2-3 pounds of complete feed per head per day to sows consuming legume haylage.