My husband wants to plant trees near a future pig pen to provide shade and extra food for the pigs. He’s looking at mulberry, improved chinese chestnut varieties, and possibly reasonably “bulletproof” (low spray\maintainance) pears\apples. We are in 6b, Va Shenandoah valley.
For the last he’s thinking maybe enterprise apple and warren or kieffer pear.
Any specific suggestions? Have any of you done a similar project or share certain fruits with pigs?
Pears are one of the highest calories per hectare for fruits, nuts etc, I think that is important for raising pigs. I think Pears have deeper roots systems which might also work well if the pigs are digging, You might as well plant Jerusalem Artichokes on the fence line
Everbearing mulberries would seem to be a good choice and others on this forum have commented how better the berries grow and taste after receiving manure and pee from barnyard animals…
All through the Southern States, mulberries are commonly used as feed for pigs and poultry. In North and South Carolina and Georgia nearly every pig lot is planted with these trees, and the mulberries form a very important addition to the pig’s diet.
I find a very general belief in the Cotton Belt that one “everbearing” mulberry tree is enough to support one pig (presumably a spring pig) during the fruiting season of two months or more. Professor J. C. C. Price, Horticulturist, Agricultural and Mechanical College, Mississippi, says, “The everbearing varieties will continue to bear from early May to late July, a period of nearly three months. I believe that a single tree would support two hogs weighing 100 pounds each and keep them in a thrifty condition for the time that they are producing fruit. They could be planted about 35 trees to the acre.”
Mr. James C. Moore, farmer of Auburn, Alabama, writes, “I never weighed my pigs at the beginning and close of the mulberry season, but think I can safely say that a pig weighing 100 pounds at the start would weigh 200 pounds at the close. Three-fourths to the mulberries is safe calculation of the gain. I have had the patch about 18 years bearing. I planted my trees just 32 feet apart, and now the branches are meeting, and I have about 40 trees. I have carried 30 head of hogs through from May 1 to August 1, with no food but the gleanings of the barn and what slops came from the kitchen of a small family.”
“We have talked this matter over thoroughly here in the office and believe that one mulberry tree 10 years old ought to support a pig 4 to 6 months old during the tree’s fruit season. As the tree gets older, 15 to 20 years old, if it has had good attention and has grown well, then it ought to support two or three pigs at the same age as mentioned above.” (O. J. Howard, J. Van Lindley Nursery Company, Pomona, North Carolina, August 11, 1912.)
Oaks are a great idea as long as you have a few decades to wait for them to produce acorns. Maybe some English oaks would get some acorns on the ground in 7-8 years. Most native U.S. oaks won’t produce much as far as acorns go for several decades, if not more.
Certainly mulberry because they can be pollarded and their leaves are very high in protein and without a doubt I would do Chinese Chestnut over oak they produce earlier and annually and don’t get hurt by late Frost and no danger of wilt
Smith and Hershey presaged and inspired many of the future tenets and strategies of the permaculture movement espoused by Bill Mollison and others. They saw tree crops as the key foundation of an agriculture that provided food for people, timber, and feed for livestock. Hershey, for instance, recommended the following for hog feed: “all the nuts, the American triplets [honey locust, persimmon, and white oak], their little sisters the mulberries and paw paws”; for chickens he recommended serviceberry, mulberry, persimmon, pawpaw, mountain ash, haws and hawthorn, and cracked nuts for winter feeding.
I don’t know this for a fact, but someone I know, who has been doing silviculture pork production for years, swears that hogs will not touch a pawpaw fruit.
I’d be more interested inclined to plant persimmon rather than pawpaw - both for hogs, as well as myself - both for productivity and flavor.
Great project! I would look at a variety of species and varieties to come up with a design to produce mast over as long a season as possible. Mulberry, honeylocust, Chinese chestnut, apples, pears, persimmon, oaks, hazels etc. Check out J Russel Smith seminal book “Tree Crop, a Perennial Agriculture “. Eliza Evans may be a good resource since she’s in your zone. Her website is Hogtree.com
Harrow delight, ayers, Duchess D’ Angoulme, and improved kieffer / Kieffer might be good choices of pears. There are many others. They ripen in July / August , September , Oct/Nov . You dont want them all ripe at once. Pigs rub trees and kill them. You will need to protect the trunks. You might also consider persimmon and pawpaw. The nuts like pecan, hickory, black walnut, acorn, english walnut, heartnut, butternut, and chestnuts would all be readily consumed. Hazelnut bushes are too small to hold up to pigs.
If you fenced hazelnuts off like mine shown below, they would be fine. They are no match for pigs for even a day or two.
My grandpa and i observed his hogs in the very wooded rocky area he owned many times. We discussed them eating acorns, black walnuts , snakes, and other things many times. Noticed a pig once in the distance, and i told my grandpa i couldn’t tell what that was the sow was eating. I observed a long time, but eventually, my grandfather told me the hog was cracking rocks in its jaws to get to the minerals in the rock. He said, “Remember that don’t underestimate the half wild sows.”