The Sustainable Pork Farm Site
Table of Contents
- What is Sustainable Pork?
- Feeding Outdoor Pigs
- Outdoor Sustainable Pork Production
- Maintaining Ground Cover
- Small Scale Sustainable Pork Productionn
- World-Wide Pictures of Outdoor Pigs
What is Sustainable Pork?
Sustainable Pork® is produced in a manner that is friendly to the animals, the environment, the workers and the local community. Sustainable Pork® is also produced in a manner that is economically competitive, which preserves the ability of the pork producer to sustain the viability of the farm.
The Sustainable Pork® label is trademarked by Texas Tech University and approved by USDA.Back to top
Feeding Outdoor Pigs
Outdoor pigs can be allowed to graze forage or other vegetation, but for good growth and lactation, they should be fed nutritionally-balanced diets that contain energy, protein (and amino acids), vitamins and minerals.
Outdoor pigs are subjected to extremes in weather. The main concerns about feeding outdoor pigs is when it is either (a) windy or (b) raining. Other weather extremes are more manageable. Also, we should recognize that the feed is typically fed on the ground, not in feeders. Thus, the feed nutrients can wash into the ground or be diluted by soil. There is not a problem with pigs eating some soil along with their meal.
To manage feed for the times when the weather is wet or windy, it is better to feed sows a pelleted or cubed feed. Generally, a pellet is smaller than a cube. The cubes we often use are from 3/8 inch to 1 inch (0.95 to 2.5 cm) in diameter and are either round or square.
Click here for more information
Outdoor Sustainable Pork ProductionBack to top
Maintaining Ground Cover
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in part defines a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) as a site that has animal density so high that vegetation can not grow for a period of 45 days or more per year. Thus, if vegetation is completely gone on a given site, even if the animals are outdoors, the site is a CAFO and subject to regulation as an intensive production site. Therefore, for a well-managed outdoor unit, the ground cover should be maintained.
The US EPA rules do not say how much ground cover is sufficient. Would 75% ground cover be sufficient? How about 50 or 25%, would those constitute ground cover? How would the regulators view animal densities when native grasses is the normal vegetative cover but at only 10% ground cover (in a desert or near-desert, for example)? These questions have not been answered, but rather than deal with regulatory requirements, it would be better to have a different standard.
Our proposed standard for outdoor units is that they do not allow nutrients to leave the site either through run-off or seepage into the ground. To protect from run-off, a border strip can be used around the site. We found that a 100 foot (~30 meter) vegetative border will catch run-off on a relatively flat site. Maintaining ground cover at 50% on average on a site, depending upon many factors, will collect nutrients that seep into the ground, leaving the area 24 inches (~61 cm) free from pig nutrients.
World-Wide Pictures of Outdoor Pigs
Below are some pictures of outdoor pigs from around the world. Examples include England, Texas, Colorado, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Hungry and Australia. Please click Pictures of Outdoor Pigs for more pictures and informationBack to top