wonder how you keep grass-fed pigs
and chickens eating grass in the
winter? The main way of course is to feed hay. We feed all our stock hay
in the winter including the chickens. Old breed chickens will scratch
through good hay and eat a bit of green material but I love finding ways
to trick them into eating more!
When you're dealing with
animals that aren't herbivores this can be tricky. Our older pigs will
eat good hay very well. Notice I said good hay. There is a lot of stuff
sold these days with the term "good hay" used and if you were to check
the protein content you would find it's not that great.
digressing into a blog post on how to determine if hay is good enough
for your particular livestock, let me just say find a good farmer you
can trust if you don't make your own hay and buy from them.We
feed a lot of Alfalfa
mainly because it's available here in Ohio and if
I'm going to spend much money on hay I want something that is going to
be nutrient dense. So when you're spending hard earned money, it almost
sickens you to think it's getting wasted.
Feeding hay on the
ground is the best way I know to waste it. Unless you have some good
grass hay and use it to bed pigs also. I learned this from Walter over
at his blog
. Walter and his family are the real deal when it comes to sustainable farming and raising pigs on pasture.
one thing that's always bothered me is when feeding good, leafy,
Alfalfa hay, is the amount of leaves that drop off every time you handle
it. Some hay is worse than other, but no matter what you lose some
every time you handle it.
For instance I bust a bale open and
head for the goats
with a couple flakes and as I'm picking it up I see
what looks like TONS of dust size green leaves falling onto the ground
when I separate it from the bale.
After a few days of feeding the
goats the hay rack has about 3 or 4 inches of this green material
laying in the bottom and they will not eat it.
Alfalfa Rack for Pigs
way with the hogs. I feed them in hay racks I made based on the old
ones used back years ago which have a trough built in the bottom to feed
grain. This also helps keep hay off the ground where it is quickly
trampled in by the pigs feet. (See picture). I could have tromped out
and taken a picture of one of my own, but it seemed easier to keep
drinking coffee and use one I already had on the computer!
hay racks also end up with green hay dust in them about 4 or so inches
deep. If you're feeding something besides Alfalfa, it's called hay seed.
I suppose you could call this stuff hay seed too but I never had a
problem cleaning out hay seed and throwing it on the ground. But I can
not bring myself to do that with this nice green rich looking product!
It's actually home made alfalfa leaf meal.
So I found another use
for it...I now take it out and put it in a five-gallon bucket and feed
it back to the chickens and young pigs.
I say young pigs because
the younger the pig, the less green material they are willing/able to
consume. As pigs get older they are much better at utilizing roughage.
get hay on the ground in the coop but they really don't eat as
much as I wish they would. So...I mix this dust or hay seed or alfalfa
leaf meal or whatever you care to call it with the chicken feed.
Home Made Alfalfa Leaf Meal
way with the young pigs. I mix it in the self-feeder and it gets eaten
instead of wasted. I have checked the feeders after mixing it in and it
is gone, no picking around it, they eat it. So I'm thrilled to take
something it used to kill me to waste and feed it, since that's what I
bought it for to begin with.
We don't grind our own feed, but if
we did, it would be perfect to toss in the grinder when batching feed.
Alfalfa meal has been used as both pig and chicken feed in years gone by
but not so much now. The old trio mixture for pigs contained alfalfa or
other legume hay.
We do the same thing with the hay the goats
pull out and drop on the ground around the rack. Gather it up and throw
it to the hogs. Just one more reason why farms should practice
What one won't eat another will. Especially with a bit of trickery!
Until next time...
Posted by David
@ 07:59 AM EST