Where do pigs sleep?
Deep bedding pigs is the preferred choice at Heritage Farm Maine for providing bedding and comfortable living conditions. A deep bedding for pigs is not really unlike any other deep bedding system for cows, chickens, sheep, or other livestock.
The basic idea is to ensure enough dry plant matter is always available to offset manure loads.
Manure is basically a rich source of Nitrogen. Green grass, fresh vegetables, and fruits could also be considered nitrogen sources if you’re familiar with making compost. Just as when you’re making compost, you want a nice balance of dry, woody,and grassy material to offset the Nitrogen. The dry woody stuff is our Carbon source. We want a mixture of Carbon to Nitrogen that encourages healthy decomposition of manure and plant matter, without leaching or losing noxious compounds to the environment.
Even as thrifty and sanitary as pigs are, they still have areas in a barn or holding area where they go to the bathroom. Sometimes they go where it’s not convenient to avoid. At Heritage farm of Maine, we have times of the year when pigs are inside buildings more often than not. Such as during winter storms, or when they are piglets and going through Indoctrination.
We start with a deep layer of woodchips for our bedding. The wood chips are a large carbon source and can suck up a lot of nitrogen. They also provide a lot of structure to the pigs bedding. We generally strive for 8” or so as a base. On top of that we add hay, leaves, straw, and even shredded newspaper as needed.
The pigs burrow down into the bedding and turn it over constantly. The woodchips and straw provide great structure, air exchange, and a variation in nitrogen absorption times. Wood Chips absorb slowly, straw absorbs quickly. Our pigs eat a lot of hay. Whatever the pigs don’t eat becomes part of the soft bedding pack. The shredded paper is simply recycling a paper product that absorbs nitrogen quickly, and breaks down quickly into compost. The bags of leaves we gather in the fall is probably the pigs favorite bedding. They love to eat the leaves, the bugs, the nuts, and maybe the occasional apple in the bags. Plus, all those leaves help build an amazing bedding and diversity in our finished product.
For us at Heritage Farm Maine, deep bedding pigs is the best way to ensure pigs have healthy, clean, and sanitary conditions to lay their heads at night. Plus, you no longer have to shovel manure more than once a year. When you do go to shovel, it’s mostly compost that can be used on the farm! Deep bedding pigs is the only way to go for the sensible farmer.