Soiling Versus Pasture For Swine

This is a point I would like to see the experimental farms take up. The fact that they would seem to strengthen the impressions now general among farmers that these farms are of doubtful utility. The soiling of dairy cows has been experimented with to some extent, but the system has not become popular. Those however, who reported the result, speak highly of the system. Soiling cows and sheep requires, of course, great attention, and the majority of dairymen prefer to pursue the less irksome system of pasturing or partial soiling at most. All admit that fully three times the number of cows can be kept by the soiling system as by ordinary pasturing.

But the soiling of swine would not seem so irksome, for pigs are soiled, as it were, in the majority of cases. When pigs ate feed in the pen, and not pastured, they are said in a measure  to be soiled. What I mean, however, by soiling is not feeding pigs in a pen with meal, milk, or boiled feed. Pigs on pasture to attain early maturity must not be allowed to depend on the grass alone, but require an addition of meal and grain. By soiling them, I mean cutting the grass and feeding it directly to the hogs in a large paddock contra-distinction to permitting the hogs to cut and feed on the grass at their own sweet will.

Pigs do very well, and probably attain greater weights by simple pen-feeding with milk, whey and meals than by either soiling or pasturage. But pen-feeding is expensive at the prevailing prices of hogs. We want to lower the cost of production to a paying point, and to this end endeavor to supplement the feeding with green feeding crops, to be fed either in the pen, or allow the pigs to harvest the crops for themselves The meal fed pig, in a close pen, does not make a good bacon pig, because exercise is precluded; the digestive organs become inactive, and there is a surplus of fat. Green feed then is apparently indispensable, either fed in the pen or allowed to be eaten on the field as it grows. Which is the more effective method? If heavy weights are to be attained in the shortest interval, I believe soiling the pigs in the pen will be found the most satisfactory. Pigs having the run of a pasture field waste a good deal of energy, and make too much muscle growth. It takes a hog, even in the best pasture, quite a while to graze the bulk of a bundle of grass that may be cut and thrown in the pen. 

 The object sought is another thing. If the pigs are intended as breeding stock, the exercise and fresh air obtained in a pasture field is quiet essential. If breeding stock are soiled, i.e., the green feed cut and carried to them, they will make greater weights in  a given time, but they will require very large yard and paddock I would not care for a breeding sow or boar that was fed all its life in a small pen and had gotten no soiling food during its growth. Good breeding stock can be produced without pasturing if the precaution is taken to have a large paddock connected with the pen, and green crops such as rye, clover, peas, corn, rape and turnips cut and thrown into these large yards, upon which there should be a generous feeding floor. Stock grown in this way should be very nearly as good as those kept i the Pasteur, and may be grown as cheaply. Grown in this manner, the pigs should make good breeding stock and excellent for the packer. This method of growing either breeding stock or bacon pigs will cost a little more, but maturity will be attained in a shorter time.

Better breeding stock, however, will result from pasturage, and it is quite essential that the brood sows have unlimited pasture from spring to fall. I do not think it well to have the pasture lot too large; an acre lot is large enough and is quite sufficient for 30 pigs. Pigs will not make much of pasture before they are three months of age. A good rule is to have an acre of pasture crops coming in in regular rotation to each three brood sows. If litters come in February, a field of rye will be right in month of May; when this is eaten down, a field of clover should be ready; after the clover peas, and alter the peas rape and the second growth of clover. The rape would be grown in the rye ground. Allowing an acre for the pigs of three brood sows, or 30 pigs, would mean three acres to carry them through the season, or, in other words, one acre of land to each brood sow on the farm. These three acres of land devoted to pasture crops, coming in regular rotation, as from the feeding of four tons of the best ground feed of a mixture of shorts and corn or barley, peas and bran.

At prices of ground feed in the older parts of our country, the growing of pasture crops makes quite a saving in cash laid out for purchased feed. Pigs grown on continuous pasture will not come to maturity, or be ripe for the  block, so quickly as if penned up all the time, or even as if soiled. Even fairly good herding stock may be produced by soiling, and maturity will be attained sooner. But this system does not give as good results and the cost of production is greater. It is a very good system, though, to produce bacon pigs. Pen-fed pigs I would not tolerate for breeders; but If I wanted to finish a batch of spring pigs for market in the shortest time, I should confine them in the pen all the time and feed as heavily as they would stand; and if these pigs were of the right breed, and from healthy, robust parents, and intelligently fed and managed up to weaning time, I would have no fears; but at five or six months of age they would be ripe for the block, and make good bacon pigs too. 

The points are: 1 To have the correct form and breed of brood sow. Never confine her. Let her roam the fields at will and the yards in winter; feed her intelligently while suckling, and wean at six weeks; then force the youngsters for all they are worth till five or six months of age ,and sell. 2. Breeding stock must not be confined in a pen. They must have unlimited pasture crops right through the season, or they may be confined in large paddock, and soiled. ― J. A. MacDonald, P. E. I., in Country Gentleman

– Pigs and Other Livestock, The Charlottetown Guardian. August 30, 1898


Loss Of Spring Litters

We are approaching the season when one of the chief topics of conversation among farmers will be the heavy annual loss of spring farrowed pigs. When hog prices are at profitable levels, as they have been during the past year, this loss becomes a serious matter for the breeders. The fact that some swine growers never lose a spring litter while some others never save one, is evidence that this loss is largely preventable.

In a small percentage of the cases failure may be  attributed to conditions over which the breeder has little control, but such causes are rare when compared with the numerous fatalities due to improper feeding methods.

Pretty Norma Dewar admires a Yorkshire piglet

The great lack of knowledge of the elementary principles of livestock feeding is the chief problem effecting [sic] the swine industry in P. E. Island today. Every farmer knows what constitutes a balanced fertiliser,. but very few understand what goes to make up a balanced ration. Every  farmer should know that a balanced ration must contain everything that the sow required to develop a litter of strong, vigorous pigs. It must contain sufficient minerals to build up the skeleton of the pigs. If these minerals are lacking, the litter may be born dead, deformed, or so lacking strength that they die immediately after birth. If they live for a time, rickets may be the results. A balanced ration must contain protein to build up muscle and blood in the unborn pigs. Any deficiency in this respect may result in oversized, flabby, weak pigs at farrowing time. In this province protein is usually the low constituent in our live stock ration. Skim milk or buttermilk are they only high protein feeds grown on our farms and used for pigs. All other common pig feeds are low in protein; potatoes and roots have only 1 per cent protein, oast, wheat and barley average about 9 to 10 per cent. In a balanced ration for sow carrying young or nursing a litter the ration should contain 15 to 20 percent protein. How can we make up such a ration if we use potatoes roots [sic]  and home grown grains without milk? Take potatoes and grain in equal parts and we have a ration with about 6 per cent protein or less. This is wide efficiency from the necessary minimum of 15 per cent. Yet we find hundreds of farmers feeding such an unbalanced ration. When disaster follows they call it bad luck.

The question naturally arises: what can be used to balance a hog ration if the farmer is short of milk? A number of high protein feeds may be recommended, such as fishmeal 60 to 70 percent protein; blood meal,  60 to 70 percent protein; blood and bone meal 50 to 60  per cent protein; tankage 40 to 60 percent protein, and perhaps oil cake, 35 to 40 percent protein. The last named should be used only when the others are not obtainable. If no milk is available and potatoes, roots and home grown grains are the bulk of the ration, at least one pound of any 60 per cent protein feed should be mixed with every nine pounds of grain, and three pounds with every bushel of potatoes or roots. Such a ration will be suitable for bred sow, sow nursing, and for growing pigs. Immediately before and after farrowing this ration should be adjusted as follows:

Col. F. I. Andrew (left) tattoos herd identification on ear of month old pig in 1958

About ten days before the date of farrowing begin to change the sow’s ration by replacing all other grain feeds with bran. About five days before farrowing the sow should be on a straight bran ration fed in slop form. From this time the ration should be gradually decreased until the sow is on half  rations the day before she furrows.  If the sow shows evidence of farrowing within 24 hours, she should  get nothing but plenty of warm water with a light sprinkling of bran. This warm drink should be  continued until the pigs are 24 hours old, when the bran ration should  be gradually increased to  bring the sow back to full feed on bran alone about five days after farrowing. Then the bran can be gradually replaced by stronger grain feeds if the sow has passed through the farrowing period in a normal condition. 

The main purpose of this system is to have the sow in a laxative condition and have her farrow on a stomach free from all strong, heat producing feeds. A full stomach, constipation and fever are the series of conditions which result in the loss of litters and quiet often dead sows.

It is false economy to feed any pig on an unbalanced ration even if the farmer must spend a few dollars for protein feeds. The price of one sucker pig will buy enough fishmeal, blood meal or tankage  to balance the sow’s ration during the greater part of the gestation period. This principle holds true in feedings pigs [sic] between weaning and  market age. Many cases of unthriftiness, lack of appetite, crippling, even death. may be traced to rations which are too low in protein and minerals. Indigestion is a very common result of low protein rations. Even if the pigs show no serious results from such improper feeding, the grower is wasting feed. Pigs fed unbalanced rations will usually take weeks. and in many cases, months longer to reach top market weights, whereas the addition of  afew pounds of high protein feed would save both time and feed.

With a little foresight this coming spring the usual loss of litters can be avoided. 

– Loss Of Spring Litters, The Charlottetown Guardian, February 27th, 1936.


Growing Ducks For Market

Growing ducks for market is a specialized side line in poultry keeping and is becoming popular with many poultrymen and farmers, especially those near large towns and cities. Profits received for money invented are very attractive and the turnover is rapid.

Considerable experimental work with different varieties of ducks, and the use of different feeds fed in different ways have been carried on at the Experimental Farm in Ottawa, states A. G. Taylor. Poultry division . A brief summary of results obtained  would indicate that ducklings of the Pekin breed make the best gains with the least amount of feed. When properly handled, ducklings of this breed make one pound gain in weight on 3.5 to 4 pounds of feed consumed. They can be developed to market age in about ten weeks times when fed on a mixture of equal parts cornmeal, shorts and bran with ten per cent beef meal added. It is a good plan to add about one per cent fine salt to the mash. Mix thoroughly in its dry state before using.

Frequent feeding promotes rapid growth. Feed six times daily from the start until ducklings are three weeks old, and fives times daily until they are ready for market.

Duck mashes should be moistened with water before feeding. It is a good plan to moisten the mixture about two to three hours before feeding so that the mash may become swollen and more easily digested.

Add sufficient water to make the mash quiet moist and let it stand for a few hours. When ready to feed it should not be sloppy but just wet enough that it will stick together. Sprinkle coarse sand over the mash before feeding. The sand serves as grit, and aids in the process of digestion. Chick size oyster shell should be provided so that the ducklings can help themselves. Feed only what the ducklings will eat up clean at each feeding.

Finely chopped green feed should be added to the mash after the ducklings are four to five days old. Fresh cut clover or alfalfa which has been chopped fine makes excellent green feed. Start with only a very small amount and increase the green feed gradually until it represents about one fifth of the ration. 

When the ducklings are about seven weeks old, the green feed should be gradually eliminated and at the commencement of the eight week the mash should be changed to 50 pounds cornmeal, 35 pounds shorts and 15 pound beef meal with a sprinkling of coarse sand.

By the end of the tenth week the ducklings should be in excellent flesh and have developed their first coat of feathers. At this time there should be no delay in marketing them. If kept longer they will change their feathers, which will slow up development and reduce profit. The profit made in the raising of ducks for market is directly dependent on the successful marketing of the product at the proper time. 

– Growing Ducks For Market, The Charlottetown Guardian. March 4, 1940


Poultry Husbandry Series

Good results are usually obtained by the use of a light at night in the brooder. This light must not be too strong, not more than 10 watts, just enough to enable the chicks to see there way about. They will then continue feeding during the night, and increase in food consumed will result in more rapid growth. This, of course, only applies during early hatches, as later chicks get enough exercise during the day.

All drinking fountains should be carefully disinfected, and after being filled should be placed in the brooder so that the water may be warm before the chicks come to it. Sour milk, if obtainable, is a good drink for the chicks, and this is best served in the earthenware or wooden troughs, as the milk is very quickly contaminated by metal containers.

It sometimes happens that chicks get overheated while rail, and when this happens there is a chance of them getting chilled when they are unloaded. It is well then to meet the chicks when they arrive, and get them into the brooder as soon as possible. When the chicks are being unpacked it is well to dip the beak of each chick into the water trough. They will be thirsty after the journey, and may take a long time to find the water if left to themselves.

Just prior to leaving the shell, each chick draws in a large supply of food in the form of egg yolk, and great harm may be done by feeding the chicks before this natural food has been assimilated. Give plenty of water at all times but do not be in a hurry to feed and feed very little at each meal. A very good method of starting the chicks is to cover the whole floor of the brooder with newspapers, on which is scattered some fine chicken grit. This will ensure the presence of grit in the gizzard before the arrival of any food.

The best food for chicks is the best chick feed that money can buyーnothing less. Feed a really good brand of chick starter in the manner described for grit, and they chicks will soon be putting it away like little men. Feeding should be done four or fives times a day and the chicks should be allowed to have all day to eat, in from ten to fifteen minutes. After each meal remove all feed, so that the chicks will be hungry for the next meal when it comes.

On the third day place hoppers, filled with feed in the brooder Gradually the chicks will get used to feeding from the hoppers, and when they do the feeding on paper may be discontinued.

There is everything that a chick requires in a high grade chick starter, and this includes green feed. However, after the first ten days very good results will be obtained by adding some finley chopped raw onion to the diet. Feed the onion for ten minutes twice a day or for twenty minutes once a day on clean boards or paper, or in hoppers. Never have any feed about to get stale. Although it does not seem to be known generally, the onion is a perfectly wonderful tonic for chicks. Onions prevents both the extremes of constipation and diarrhoea, and keeps the chicks right up on their toes.

There are some poultry men who swear by the use of charcoal for in the chick feed,  but while we agree that charcoal does have a purifying effect on the system by absorbing gases which are generated in the intestines we do not think that this claim can justify us in fulfilling useful space in the chickens interior with material of no nutritive value. A hopper of sharp grit should always be available to the chicks, and some finely ground charcoal may be mixed with this. While the charcoal may do no perceptible good it certainly can do no harm.

Watch the pigment in the legs of the chicks as this is a sure guide to the vitality of the bird. Remember  that you are feeding to make the chicks grow and that it is possible to force them to the detriment of their health. If the pigment is seen to fade, feed the chicks a little high grade chick scratch, but remember that it is the mash or starter which is going to develop the bird, and keep the gain down to a minimum, not more than one teaspoonful per hundred chicks from the ages of two days to a month.

From about the fifth or sixth day, when the chicks are feeding entirely from the hoppers, There may be signs of constipation. Watch the chicks very carefully, and if they appear to be suffering in this way, place a shallow wooden tray, filled with wheat bran before them. It is well to fit the top of the ray with a frame covered with an inch or two inch wire netting as this prevents the chicks from scratching the bran out on the floor. After warning against feeding too much grain it may seem strange to advocate unlimited feeds of bran. Naturally one would assume that while the bran was available the consumption of mash would fall off. Actually the reverse is true. Bran has a gentle laxative effect on the chicks and they return with renewed interest to their feeding. There is another important factor with regard to the feeding of bran. All the time you are feeding the chicks you are thinking of the day when these same chicks have [sic] grown to the age of netting you an income. Now if you feed a chick concentrated feed there is little work to be done in the intestine, as all the nutriment the chicken require [sic] is drawn from a small bulk of food. Hence the intestine will remain small right up to maturity. But, if you feed some bran, the intestines are enlarged with a view to extracting the nutriment from this bulky feed. Later on. when you feed concentrated laying mash to the birds in the laying house, this large intestine will ensure ample capacity for the extraction of nutriment both for heavy egg yield and for retained vigor.

Hard as it may sometimes seem, it does not pay to doctor sick or crippled chicks; these should be culled out as soon as seen, and killed.

– Poultry Husbandry, The Charlottetown Guardian. June 2, 1934


Animal Husbandry

The consideration of another Jersey breeder might be worth while, even though his situation may be somewhat different than that of any farmer in this province in that he has the use of a feed mixer and thereby has the advantage of mixing his feed according to his own formula. On account of the labor costs he does not grow roots but favours feeding ensi age and molasses instead. He has a prejudice against gluten meal and does not use it in his ration at all. In his formula he includes only the feeds he has to purchase having his mixture of oats and barley ground separately, and mixing it, with the mill feed at the time of feeding. He prefers this plan, as it enables him to increase or decrease the grain in his mixture for any animal at any time. The mixture which he has prepared in the mill and its feeding analysis is as follows:

Amount 400; ingredient oil cake; protein 38 per cent; fat 5 per cent.

Amount 400 ; ingredient; [sic] protein 12 per cent; fat 3 per cent.

Amount 400; ingredient cotton seed meal; protein 43 per cent; fat 6 per cent.

Amount 400; ingredient distillers grains; protein 25 per cent; fat 6 per cent.

Amount 400; ingredient hominy; protein 10 per cent; fat 8 per cent.

Amount 125; ingredients molasses; protein 8 per cent;

Amount 30; ingredient bone meal;

Amount 15; ingredient iodine salt;

Amount 15; ingredient charcoal;

This mixture would aggregate 2,125 pounds of feed and 60 pounds of mineral matter. It is considered very satisfactory for mineral content, and the feed part of it would run slightly over 24 per cent in protein. At previling [sic] prices this mixture would cost about $30 per ton.The owner crushes oats and barley in about the ratio of 2 to 1 and then feeds three parts of grain to one of the mill mixture. If the mixed grain will average 12 per cent protein, this would give a mixture for feeding of 15 per cent protein and about 3.75 per cent of fat. If a mixture of oats and barley, such as this is worth $20 per ton, then a ton of this would cost $22.50. About 15 pounds of this mixture per day is fed to the cows in two feeds. This of course would vary under special circumstances. 

Ensilage and alfalfa are fed as roughage by the owner, who is particularly skillful in curing alfalfa hay. He keeps it from the hot noon-day sun and has solved the problem of retaining all the leaves and storing it in the barn, to come out with the most appealing green color one would wish to see.

When putting alfalfa in the barn it is sprinkled with salt, which absorbs some of the moisture and gives the hay an appetizing taste. About one gallon of salt is used on each load and this salt on the hay and that included in the meal mixture [sic], is the only salt fed to these cattle while in the stable.

The cows are fed a light feed of alfalfa the first thing in the morning about 6 o’clock, and as they eat it the milking is done. After milking, each cow is given about half a bushel of ensilage with her meal ration on it. At 12 o’clock noon, the cows are fed alfalfa again and after the evening milking are given ensilage and meal as in the morning. They are given no further feed until the following morning.

The owner has another ration which he uses as a supplement for his cows on test, and which he also feeds to his calves. This is a more bulky feed, as it contains but pulp [sic] ,and it is not so strong in concentrates as the first feed, consequently it can be used in addition to the other ration to stimulate milk production, without danger to the cow’s digestion.

This mixtures consists of: 

1000lbs. oats and barley at about 2 to 1. 

100 lbs. of oil cake.

100 lbs. of cotton seed meal.

500 lbs. bran.

500 lbs. dried beet pulp.

125 lbs. molasses.

30 lbs. bone meal.

15 lbs. Charcoal.

15 lbs. iodized salt.

This mixture would have a protein content of 13.5 per cent. The daily beet pulp would add a succulence to ot that is very important when cows are on heavy grain feed.

This farmer’s plan is to feed the first mentioned mixture after milking in the morning and also about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and feed this later one at noon and again at 9 p.m., feeding about two gallons of it to a feed, which would make a daily ration about 15 pounds. These two rations should be fed only to heavy milking cows on test that are being milked three times a day. When both rations are fed, less ensilage is used, as the beet pulp in the latter ration will displace some of the ensilage.

In feeding roughage only good quality alfalfa is used, as the owner is opposed to using any rough, coarse feed, and is particular to have his cows well bedded so they can be comfortable.

Calves are fed whole milk for three weeks only, and then gradually changed to skim milk, feeding about one quart of skim milk at a feed.

As a supplement the calves are fed a small quantity of the mixture containing the beet pulp, and are given choice alfalfa as well. The heifers in the herd are grown on a small grain ration, with some of the beet pulp mixture and are also fed ensilage and goof alfalfa.

The amount of grain fed to young cattle depends upon their condition. The object is to keep them in thrifty growing condition without too much tendency to fatten.

– Animal Husbandry, The Charlottetown Guardian. December 14, 1935