Saturday, April 2, 2016
Ploughing with a Pig Tractor
We keep our three pigs - Target, Sir Oinkers and Bobo - in a twelve metre by six metre enclosure with an electric wire at nose height. Inside the pigs have a small house, some shade and an automatic waterer that gravity feeds from a tank attached to the well. Over a few weeks the pigs will plough up the patch the enclosure is on. When they are piglets it may take two months but when they are larger they can plough it up in a fortnight especially if it has been wet. The pigs have been in this area for just over two weeks are almost ready to be moved.
This paddock has a sedge type grass that is not very palatable, even to the goats that live in it. The pig tractor is designed to slowly replace this grass with sweeter varieties, both by improving the fertility and by physically removing the grass. The photo below shows the next patch to be ploughed up.
The patch below is the result of last year's pigs. We fatten them for about six months during summer and autumn when there is plenty of excess produce about. So it has been almost a year since the pigs were removed from this patch. The sedge has gone and the new grasses colonizing the area are much favoured by the goats. Often thistles will seed on the more compacted parts but the goats love them too. It is slow work to alter the vegetation one enclosure at a time but it works without the use of chemicals or tractor diesel.