The Whole Hog Project: discriminating feeders | Bleader

The Whole Hog Project: discriminating feeders

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It's been a while since we checked in on the mulefoots at their new digs at the farm of Valerie Weihman-Rock and her husband Mike in Argyle, Wisconsin. The Rocks built a round house ten feet in diameter for the pigs' shelter and Valerie says they're planning to use the Swedish deep bedding method this winter--laying down three feet of hay or straw, whose hollow tubes hold air and insulate the structure. The Rocks, who are also starting up a grain-milling operation, plan to use organic barley straw, since pigs like to nibble on their bedding. I would too if I could sleep on bacon.

Valerie's been boiling organic barley for the pigs twice a day and letting it soak for their morning and evening meals. She recently she missed a day due to business in Madison, so she picked up a bag of pot-belly pig food to fill in the gap--thinking it would be more nutritious than standard commercial feed.

"Put it in their food dishes," she writes. "They would NOT TOUCH IT! Sniffed and walked over to eat grass. One of the larger male pigs ("Detlef--German for strength of ten") used his snout to shovel all of the food out of one of the dishes in hopes that I had buried some other type of food below. After snouting it out, he left it. No eating.

"Everyone skipped supper and ate plain old grass instead. The next day, I had to dump and rinse the food dishes  as well as scoop up the food that had gotten on the ground. It was only attracting flies at this point--a dry food, but apparently quite 'odoriferous' to everyone involved (unless it was wetted, I could not smell it)." She gave it to the chickens who apparently didn't think much of it either, but managed to finish it off after a few days.

So the mulefoots, reared on organic grains and good Wisconsin grass, have become quite the epicures.

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