We have been trying a little experiment here with our pig feed; we are not changing the feed just how we feed it to the pigs. We buy organic grain from one of our farming neighbours this is sometimes Barley and at other times Triticale (a hybrid of wheat & rye) both are used extensively for feeding pigs and one or the other is the largest component of most proprietary pig feeds.
When you feed pellet feed to pigs most recommend a plentiful; supply of fresh water and this is important to help the pigs absorb their food and as much of its available nutrition as possible. We found just mixing milled grains mixed with water helped our pig grow quicker some years ago, now we tend to mix our grain with milk by product like whey or skimmed milk from our own cows.
So what are we doing different now? We now sprout the grain instead of milling it this leads to Increases in Protein Quality & Increases in Crude Fiber content, Sprouts are also rich in digestible energy, bio-available vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, and phytochemicals, as these are necessary for a germinating plant to grow. The benefits in sprouting just from a nutritional stand point are worth the change in feeding regime, but add to this the saving in electricity to grind the grain & the improved air quality in our barn due to less grain milling dust and it’s a win win move.
The pigs have taken about a week to settle in to the new feed as they have to work a little harder chewing to get at all that goodness, but they are already growing even quicker as a result of the improved feed without any increased cost to us.
I have now had a question about this requesting details of exactly how we go about sprouting the grain. This is so simple I presumed everyone knew
how to do it! So we simply put one feeds worth of grain in a bucket, that’s half of the daily ration for all the pigs you need to feed. Cover the grain with water and leave to stand for 24 hours, pour the grain in to a new bucket and refill the first bucket. This goes on for three to four days until the grain has sprouted, this means you need 6 to 8 buckets for the system to work in a continuous cycle. We recycle our mineral buckets for use in this system so they were not an extra cost. In addition to this we have planted comfrey around our holding which we cut and feed to the pigs during the growing season April to October, this replaces as much as half of the grain needed to feed the pigs and will eventually replace as much as 80% of their grain as we expand the number of comfrey plants we have. In the autumn we also collect acorns from our
extensive collection of oak trees in the hedges and feed these to the pigs for the last month or so of their lives, this helps to sweeten their meat and help us produce an excellent dried ham.