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Win-win-win with pigs and chickens
In addition to the hens and their loyal rooster we keep 3 kuni kuni pigs. This is a small breed, hairy and very affectionate. Their roles are as lawn mowers, soil cultivators and manure makers. Kuni kuni pigs are unique in that they can survive on a diet of grass and need very little supplementary food unless raising babies.
Over the last few years we have been impressed with how the chooks, young chickens, rooster and pigs all get along in the slowly emerging food forest they call home. They range freely together and at feeding time jostle with each other for access to kitchen scraps and grain.
Our chooks and ducks get fed supplementary grain that has been soaked in water. This makes it softer, easier to digest and because it swells up means they don't eat as much.
One unintentional positive side effect of feeding grain to the chickens while the pigs are present is they inevitably end up eating some of it. Being greedy, they swallow most of it whole and it passes straight through and ends up spread around their territory in the manure. The chickens have discovered this and are very eager to get at the grains embedded in the poo. This results in frantic scratching and disintegration of the pig turds resulting in faster breakdown and absorption into the surrounding landscape.
Provided the pigs have plenty of grass and other green edible herbage they seem to leave young trees alone. We have found that at certain times leaves of peach, almond and apple may be palatable.
Pigs love to rub and scratch against things, especially after emerging from a muddy bath in the swale. Consider having a suitable tree or post nearby.
Pigs in the young food forest
During the day the animals are free to roam up to 1 hectare of emerging food forest which is broken into 8 sections (paddocks) of various sizes.
Many of our pig fences are constructed from short log posts driven into the ground and joined by a horizontal run of old corrugated iron since there was stacks of it here. Wire fences will not contain a pig, they can force their way under and through.
We find that by providing plenty of space and regulating their access to different areas means they get plenty of variety, don't over graze and start interfering with young trees or rooting up the ground.