Forages for Swine

One of the largest expenses for livestock operations is feed, so utilizing lower cost forages for swine can result in a great savings in feed costs. Here is some information on how forages can be incorporated into a swine operation.

Research has shown that hogs can make better use of forage crops than previously assumed. Studies have shown that the digestibility of fiber improves as the pig matures.

One of the most important reasons that a small scale producer would consider utilizing forage would be to save on grain and protein costs. Since most forages contain more protein than do grains, savings can be realized in both protein and grain costs.

Forages that hogs utilize are typically either legumes, grasses, or brassicas. The following is a list of many of the potential forage crops typically found in Pennsylvania and other states in the temperate regions of the United States.

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.

Hogs can be difficult animals to effectively fence. They can find weak spots in fencing systems and escape. The ongoing problem with feral hogs in the United States is believed to stem from hogs escaping from hunting preserves and in some cases from domestic hog operations.

The methods of getting water to hogs on pasture are numerous. But there are a few main points to remember about watering hogs on pasture.

Shelters are needed both in the summer and winter. Summer shelter protects hogs from extreme heat and sunburn, especially on white breeds. Winter shelter protects against extreme cold and cold rain combined with wind.

Managing hogs on pasture can work well to decrease feed costs while still meeting the nutritional requirements of the hogs. Good management is required to maintain high quality pastures and to prevent hogs from escaping pasture areas.