Friday, March 29, 2013

The Three Little Piggies - Week 2

I spent an unreasonable amount of time this week reading some incredibly informative, yet utterly mind-numbing facts & stats on swine nutritional needs. Who's jealous? ;)

Trying to take everything that I'd read from various sources into account, I ended up deciding that the best diet for our pigs is one based on protein-rich organic grains and cereals, homegrown raw goat milk, beet pulp, molasses and some supplemental vitamins and minerals, and of course, the odd bit of produce or kitchen scraps. Tonight was our first time feeding the pigs their "porridge", and it seems to have been well received. Based upon whether this satisfies them, and whether or not they seem to be gaining well with this formulation, some tweeking and fine tuning the recipe may be in order. But here it is, as it stands now, my recipe for lip-smackin' swine delight. ;)

Chelle's Pig Porridge 

serves 3, 40-50 pound feeder/grower pigs

1 1/2 cups organic soybeans
1 1/2 cups sorghum grain
3 cups medium ground organic corn grits
3 cups organic cracked wheat
2 cups pelleted beet pulp
1 scoop (about a tablespoon) nutritional yeast
1/4 cup molasses
2 scoops (included in package) kid milk replacer powder - Eventually this will be replaced by fresh, raw goat milk, and the volume of water used to rehydrate/plump the cereal grains will be reduced accordingly.
1 scoop (included in package) loose minerals
14 cups +/- very hot water

Mix together in a large bucket, stir well and allow to sit and absorb the liquid and cool to room temperature over an hour or so. The dry grains themselves, before adding the water, weigh about 8 pounds. The water and other ingredients about double that, making for roughly 16 pounds of porridge, more or less. We also have a large stockpile of past-sell-by-date bread products and pastries that we feed at a rate of 3 packages (these could be doughnuts, hot dog buns or high-end whole grain breads, etc.) per meal. This seems to be an adequate meal for our three little piggies - for now. We'll make adjustments and additions as necessary.

As for the source of our grains, I had such a hard time tracking down certified organic products that I could buy in bulk quantities, that I ended up having to buy people-grade grains from a local (Oregon) mill, Bob's Red Mill

The single most expensive ingredient were the organic soybeans, at $46 for a 25-pound bag. The sorghum, corn and wheat were all less that a dollar per pound though, meaning that we got 150 pounds of grains for about $140, which sounds like a lot, until you consider that -

a) This should last us close to a month, being fed this porridge once per day (for now they have a lighter breakfast meal of pig chow, bread products and kitchen scraps)

b) Organic is always more expensive, and finding organic/non-GMO corn & soy is getting very hard.

c) This diet won't go on for more than a month or two. When the goat milk and garden food streams start flowing, we'll be able to reduce the amount of purchased feeds for our piggies.

d) If you believe the feed conversion rates that I've been reading about, ad nauseum, feeding three pounds of these high quality, high protein feeds equal one pound of pork. So, $140 worth of grain = 50 pounds of hormone-free, organic, happy pork. Keep in mind that that number is based upon the grains alone, and doesn't count the nutritional contribution of the goat milk, kitchen scraps, etc.

e) If all else fails, we can eat the grains that we bought for our piggies.

It's possible that I've grossly miscalculated everything, and these will be the most expensive, spoiled pigs on earth. It is also possible that I will have tried something non-conventional and slightly risky, and end up rewarded with ribs and chops that are to die for.

The proof will be in the puerco. ;)