Our family farming history began with my great-great-... (nine generations ago) grandfather Johannes. He, his wife and three children left Saxony, Germany, on April 20, 1734, aboard the ship St. Andrew, mastered by Capt. John Stedman. They landed at Philadelphia on Sept. 22 and eventually settled our family’s first "New World" farm near Society Run in Frederick Township, Montgomery County, Pa., in 1743. Pig farming was our family’s specialty until the mid 1950s. A lot has changed since then. Our BQA cow–calf operation includes 100% grass-fed registered Red Angus, Hereford and purebred Beefalo; 30 to 35 pastured Duroc and Spot pigs; 100 Freedom Ranger broilers; and 90 Golden Comet and Buff Orpington layers. We organically maintain 80 acres, comprising 15 acres in rotational pastures, 15 acres in tillable cropland, and alfalfa/mixed grass hay on the balance. We have never used chemical pesticides or herbicides on our pastures or hay fields. We are not a "certified" organic farming operation, but we prefer the natural/organic approach to help promote sustainability.
Feeding your livestock Trees!
Jul 09, 2014
Prior to 1940, farmers turning their pigs out into the wooded areas of their farms in the Southeastern part of this country was a very common practice. In the winter the pigs were than brought back to the farm "proper" and fed left-over corn stalks and other crop residues. The hardwood species of tree’s such as the mighty oaks and chestnuts throughout the Appalachian region provided nut’s which pig’s love, and fortunately do very well on. Pigs are still fed chestnuts but by a much smaller percentage of producers, and those pigs that are, are reported by consumers to be the sweetest tasting pork they’ve ever had. The tall broad branched Chestnut tree’s also provided much needed shade during the sweltering heat of the summer. Another nut favored by pigs and their producers are Acorns. Pig’s fed acorns are very low in saturated fat and high in healthy Oleic Acid, which is another advantage for producers and consumers alike. In Spain this type of pork sell’s for up to $40 per pound!! Unfortunately you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone in this country willing to pay $15 per pound for healthy Pork. Sorry, but don’t let the prior mentioned statistics burst your bubble.
If you’ve seen the movie FOOD INC., than you know who Virginia farmer Joel Salatin is. He is the best example of a sustainable farmer that I can think of. If you ever have the time to hear him speak or visit his farm DO IT! You’ll be glad you did. Joel say’s that pigs are excellent at taking recently logged forest land and transforming it into lush pasture. He also stated that pig’s love the roots and bark of left-over saplings and will eat the left behind roots and bark from cut trees. But you need to get them out there as soon as possible, because pigs are "ground oriented", he stated that they will ignore anything over 24" high. Joel’s oldest pig pastures have self-produced a mixture of perennial ryegrass & crabgrass. He has no idea where the seeds came from because he didn’t seed the pastures with those varieties. And those pig pastures are the only pastures on his sprawling Virginia farm with perennial ryegrass. Pretty cool huh?
In a silvopasture the air temperature difference on a hot day is up to 20 degrees lower, compared with the temperature just a few feet away where there are no trees. In cold weather it would be the opposite: warmer near the trees and colder farther away.
And this is by far the best reason to try silvopasturing, horn fly problems will be reduced to almost nonexistent by the birds and microorganisms attracted in this grazing environment.
So if you have land that has been logged recently and in most cases the pitch of land is much steeper than you would like to try and mow with your brush hog & tractor, try a forest hog! Berkshires, Hampshires, Yorkshires and our favorites Tam-Roc PIGS, are best suited for this kind of land clearing. For a silvopasture grazing system to work successfully you must have a commitment to intensive forage, livestock and timber management. And last but not least, an intensive livestock grazing rotation is a must to keep your silvopasture healthy & productive for the next 50-100 years!