What Kinds of Forages Can We Use for Swine?

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.

Red clover is one forage that is high in protein and is easy to establish.

Red clover is one forage that is high in protein and is easy to establish.

Alfalfa

Alfalfa is a deep-rooted perennial legume.  It requires well-drained soil and a pH near neutral.  Alfalfa can be used for  pasture, hay, or haylage.

Red Clover

Red clover is a short-lived perennial legume that is very easy to establish.  It has the capability to grow in soils not suited to alfalfa due to low pH and/or poor drainage. 

Ladino White Clover

Ladino white clover is a perennial legume that is stoloniferous and therefore has the ability to spread and fill in bare spots.  It works especially well in perennial pastures. 

Alsike Clover

Alsike clover is a short-lived perennial legume.  It grows well on heavy soils and works well in pasture systems.

Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass is a perennial sod-forming grass.  Once established, bluegrass is persistent and be used as pasture indefinitely.  Bluegrass tends to not tolerate heat and drought as well as several other perennial grasses.

Mature Orchardgrass

Orchardgrass needs to be managed to prevent it from becoming mature and losing feed value.

Orchardgrass

Orchardgrass is a perennial bunch grass.  Orchardgrass mixes well with legumes in a pasture or hayfield setting.  Orchardgrass matures earlier in the season than most other perennial grasses and needs to be managed to prevent it from developing seedheads.

Smooth Bromegrass

Smooth bromegrass is a perennial sod-forming grass.  It is very palatable and productive.  Smooth bromegrass is sensitive to being harvested early in it’s growth phase, so managers need to learn about how to best manage it.

Timothy

Timothy is a perennial bunch grass.  It is very palatable and can withstand variable soil types.  Timothy does not produce well in hot, dry conditions and most years cannot be relied upon for summer production. 

Sudangrass

Sudangrass is a summer annual grass.  It is very palatable and produces large amounts of forage in the summer when cool season grasses have slowed growth.  Producers are cautioned to not graze sudangrass until it has reached a height of at least 18-24 inches due to potential poisoning from cyanogenic compounds. 

Cereal Rye

Cereal Rye is a winter annual grass commonly raised for grain production.  It has the advantage of being able to grow during cold conditions that slow or stop the growth of other forage species. 

Winter Wheat, Barley, and Triticale

Winter wheat, barley, and triticale are winter annual grasses commonly raised for grain production.  They can be planted in late summer or early fall for forage.  They do not produce as much forage as rye, but can be easier to manage than rye as they are less likely to mature as rapidly  as rye the following spring.

Forage Brassicas

Forage brassica crops include rape, turnip, kale, and swede.  These are annual crops that are highly productive and digestible.  Depending which species is used, brassicas can be grazed 80-150 days after planting.  All of the brassicas require good soil drainage.  Rape is considered very favorable for hog grazing.  Early sown rape can provide grazing from early summer to late fall.  Combining rape with oats, barley, or peas can be advantageous.