I’ve searched far and wide but I cannot find the tree that money grows in. So I have to use what we already have and make it work. So when it came time to consider a new “pet” one of the provisions for me getting a piglet was that it not cost us any more money. No special feed, no crazy enclosures, nothing that we weren’t already buying. All new pets much provide something as well. We don’t have the space or money to have anything on the homestead that isn’t doing some kind of “job”. So in order to make the piglets plausible for us I needed to have some plans in place. As far as infrastructure went I had a plan for where to put them and a back up plan if that location didn’t work out. It didn’t so we went with plan B.
Chose the Right Pig
For us the first part of saving money would be to choose the right pig for us. Aside from personality and being docile there was other criteria to consider. For instance size, small pig = less food. We also chose a breed that grazed and could fatten on grass. For us Kune Kune pigs were the best choice. They aren’t for everyone but they were a great for to us.
Our grocery store has a few shelves that have the ugliest, most beat up fruit I ever see on it! I always wondered why they had it but now it makes sense. Banana bread and smoothies won’t taste any different with ugly bananas and a pig wouldn’t mind one bit. A large bunch of bananas for $0.39 sounds worth it to me. Sometimes if you’re lucky and get there at the times they’re throwing it out you can even score free out of date produce.
*tip: if you have local small grocery stores they may work out a deal with you to pick up old stale or “expired” foods. Some restaurants to. Panera Bread used to save bread and give it out for free to people who came in to feed animals.
I very quickly looked up and tried to become familiar with what food items were safe for pigs. When we are done eating we scrape safe leftover into a bucket and those leftover become pig (and chicken feed). Farmers have been feeding food scraps and “slop” to their pigs since the dawn of farming. The pig will definitely enjoy these tidbits. Obviously veggie and fruit scraps are ideal, but a few other types of foods won’t hurt them. We separate out meat and give that to the chickens not the pigs.
From the research that I have done and what I have read “old” milk is a great source of lysine (it’s a protein). One of the articles I read is called “How to Raise Pastured Pigs without Buying Feed” just that title is enough to make your ears perk up. Raising any animal without buying feed sounds like a good deal to me. This article talks about getting a relationship going with a local milk distributor and that’s a great option if you have that resource near by. Luckily for me I have my own “milk distributors” and when all three are in milk they make way more milk than we need. I typically share that extra milk with Rhaegar and the chickens, but this season I’m going to make sure the pigs get plenty as well.
This point ties in with the point I made above about “choosing the right pig”. Having a pig that can graze means that it is capable of foraging for it’s own food. As long as it has access to fresh grass or good quality hay that’s the majority of it’s food. We have a ton of grass all summer and provide fresh hay year round as well.
I’m still doing plenty of research picking the best diet for my new porcine friends, but these are a few ideas that I plan on employing to keep costs down.