Raising pigs outdoors
It is not just organic farmers, but also small-scale farmers who farm pigs using alternative methods. In our country the Přeštice Black-pied pig, which has a robust constitution and does not require high-quality feed, is predetermined for more extensive forms of pork production.
Pasture, which can be provided during the growing season, i.e. from May to October in our conditions, is used as an alternative method of feeding. This method is suitable for small to medium-scale farmers, who have the potential to produce their own feed crops in the best case.
Raising pigs on pasture
The size of the pasture is determined by several variables, these being the weight of the animals, the yield of fodder dry weight per hectare of pasture, the duration of the pasture season and the quantity of produced excrement, which should not exceed the organic nitrogen limit specified in the nitrate guideline.
Use of a fenced system, during which the pigs are placed within a restricted area until they transform it into a ploughed-up plain without plants, appears to make optimum use of pasture. Electric fencing, wooden fencing, or even straw bales, are used to enclose a temporary pasture. The risk of contact with wild animals, which may be a source of infectious disease that can have a very serious economic impact (currently African Swine fever) must be minimized with all diligence.
Just like other animals, pigs must also be provided with protection against poor weather and the sun while in the pasture. The shelters must allow multiple pigs to lie down together. The animals should have a constant sufficient supply of drinking water. The feed site for grain feed should be constructed so that it prevents feed wastage.
As well as saving on costs for feed, this system of raising pigs also provides a bonus in the form of the highest quality of the final product. The meat is more tender, mainly due to the lower content of hydroxyproline in the muscle and the increased percentage of intramuscular fat.
Pasture for pigs will provide different plants for foraging compared to a pasture intended for ruminants. Forage plants for pasturing pigs include for example winter mixtures (including winter barley, winter peas, perennial ryegrass, winter wheat and winter vetch) and spring mixtures (including oats, vetch and peas) and clover and grass.
Although pasturing has a positive effect on the health of pigs, a basic grain feed is still necessary for healthy pigs. Selection of these feeds is limited not only by the farmer’s potential, but also the chosen farming method. For example, the rules of ecological farming place emphasis on providing organically grown feed, as well as a diverse range of feed.