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Feeding Pigs Acorns.

Tuulikki
by Tuulikki

 

Hello Everyone

We keep a few pigs each year in our orchard to use up windfall fruit. We also have a lot of Oak trees ( White Oaks) around the farm and I have been collecting acorns this year to feed the pigs. They love them. Next year I am planning to collect the acorns using less labour intensive methods (Ground sheeting) and where collection is not practical I intend to take the pigs to the trees and let them forage them.

Does anyone have any experience of using Acorns as a substantial component of a feeding regime? I understand they contain Tannin which is toxic to many animals. Are there limits to how much a pig should be allowed take in? Are they safe for young animals?

From what I can gather they are high in Protein, Carbohydrate and several vitamins and minerals. What kind of substitution rate would be sensible using them instead of pig feed? Will they impact on the meat taste?

I assume there is no problem storing the acorns  in dry conditions.

We keep rare breed weaners. So far we have used  GOS, OS&B's and Saddleback X, buying them as weaners. All very successfully .

More land is coming available (bits the dairy cows don't use much) + some stables so our Next step in the next few weeks is to get some gilt weaners to take through and breed from. currently we are thinking MiddleWhite, Lop and Berkshire's.

Lots of questions!

Many thanks to anyone who can offer some advice. We are based in Dorset between Sherborne and Dorchester

 

last edited on
oaklandspigs
#1
by oaklandspigs

We only feed acorns as a supplementary - in fact we let pigs out into the fields with oaks for an hour or so, they rush staright for the oaks and need lots of encouragement to come back.  We usually then halve their evening feed. 

But this is only for a short time whilst acorns are dropping, and we tend to vary who is let out.

 

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JaneE
#2
by JaneE

Choice of weaner gilts. I don't have experience of Middle white, and am not in favour of Lops, but between Berkshire and any other breed, I would choose Berkshire!! Why? They give a small carcase of 40/50 kg., but it's produced quickly. They aren't huge and boisterous - but generally a slightly smaller size and easily handled, being gentle and quiet. They look good and are very hardy. The taste of the meat is distinctive and superb.

There now. That'll produce a furore from devotees of other breeds!! I think we're very fortunate to still have the choice of rare breeds of pigs and to be able to indulge our individual tastes.

pigman
#3
by pigman

It depends on how quickly you want your pigs to go to the freezer.  If you cut back on their food and let them instead root and feed of acorns, they are not going to starve but neither are they going to get to weight as quickly.

Author of Choosing and Keeping Pigs and Pigs for the Freezer, a smallholder's guide www.bundarrameishanpigs.weebly.com
ashghyll
#4
by ashghyll

Choice of weaners - as JaneE said Berkshires will finish at a smaller weight, so will Middle Whites. Lops make good pork and bacon pigs with generally more length and less fat. You could argue because Berkshires and Middle White finish at smaller weights they are easier to handle but most traditional breeds are docile and easily handled and generally lop eared are quieter again as they don't have the same vision as prick eared. Basically, you try different breeds and you will make up your own mind what you prefer and what works best for you.

I agree, we are lucky to have such a choice of traditional and modern breeds but some need more help than others if we are to keep them.

 

oldspot
#5
by oldspot

Many years ago I worked with a herd of 600 sows and we used to walk around a hundred dry sows to the neighbouring estate where they would feed off the acorns. Muck for manna.

They love them but they do bung a pig up rather!! Depending on condition we would feed some sows nuts too. But not til they were hungry!

http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/guyandzoe
pigman
#6
by pigman

I have just come back of a pigs in woodland course in the Wyre forest and they only fed a minimum feed of nuts a day and the difference in the condition between them and pigs kept on correct rations was incredible, They were alot lighter and I guess would be about 6 weeks behind in weight compared to fully fed animals

Author of Choosing and Keeping Pigs and Pigs for the Freezer, a smallholder's guide www.bundarrameishanpigs.weebly.com
Tuulikki
#7
by Tuulikki

 

Thanks for the replies everyone.

The acorns are balanced out with a lot of fruit (mostly apples) which has helped control any constipation problems. The pigs also get a supplement of Sow rolls but  they seem so much happier eating when they have to search and find stuff that we often chuck the rolls all over the paddock for them to hunt.

 The Stables have now been cleaned and pig proofed and we are awaiting arrival of a pedigree Berkshire gilt weaner (+ a friend)  ready for collection at the end November. Then a pedigree Berkshire boar weaner (+ a friend) ready for collection end December. They are from the same breeder but different litters + blood lines so the plan is to breed from them later next year and start a new herd.

 Still considering a Lop for the spring.

Regards All

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