Mulefoot Pigs Prefer Hackberries and Grass

| 11/20/2008 7:43:00 AM

Last Saturday, after Kate and I finished the Mulefoot hog house and called it quits on the chicken house, we poured each other a glass of wine and pulled our Adirondack chairs up to the fence that encloses the Mulefoot pigs’ pasture pen. We were relaxing, taking in the sights and catching up on the prior week’s events when we noticed that whatever the pigs were eating was making quite a crunching sound. Not only were they crunching, they were squealing, snorting and wagging their tails sufficiently to make Kate and me believe that they were enjoying themselves.

Hackberries Are Good Eating

After a bit of investigation, we discovered that the Mulefoot pigs were happily munching hackberries that had blown out of one of the huge hackberry trees near the edge of their paddock. Earlier this season, we noticed that the chickens devoured windfall hackberries, so why not the pigs? I checked to be sure that they still had plenty of commercial hog feed in their bowls … and they did. So we concluded that the pigs simply preferred hackberries over extruded beige pellets.

Kate and I raked up a pile of hackberries and leaves and tossed them into the pig pasture and went back to visiting in the Adirondack chairs.

Grass Is Delicious

A short while later we noticed the Mulefoot pigs reaching for the tall lush grass on the outside of their enclosure. It’s true they have clipped the choicest grass in their paddock, so Kate and I pulled many handfuls of that lush, green, unreachable grass and tossed them into the pen. Once again, the pigs made all kinds of happy sounds, and their tails were positively whipping back and forth.

Hank Will_2
11/20/2008 1:03:09 PM

Wow, Carol. Thanks for your comment and good advice. Our plan at the moment is to rotate the pigs through many paddocks behind the cattle, and let them spend some "extra" time in our overgrown wooded areas. I was hoping that they would disturb the pasture matrix enough to stimulate some prairie regeneration, without totally tearing it up. I don't imagine they will stay in any one several-acre patch for more than 2 days, in a rotation, except in the winter. I was thinking that I might prepare a winter "pasture" for them by letting them tear up an acre or two in late summer and sowing it to turnips. So, we will give this a shot without nose rings and see what happens. I need to also write, again, that your most recent book has brought our family much joy. Of course we loved your chicken books, and many articles too, but this latest is something else. Thanks. Hank

Carol Ekarius
11/20/2008 12:48:18 PM

Hank, I am so glad to hear of your adventures with Mulefoot hogs! Saving endangered breeds, such as the Mulefoot, is critically important for the future of our food security, but also it is great fun. One thing I should note about the Mulefoot, or any other hog on pasture, is that you should investigate humane nose rings, unless you want them to rototill the area in which you are keeping them. Carol Ekarius

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