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NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents -

Pigs re­quire pro­tein ev­ery day (they are not her­bi­vores) – wean­ers will prob­a­bly need feed­ing twice a day. You will need good qual­ity scraps and/or to be feed­ing pig pel­lets, in ad­di­tion to pas­ture. If all that spring grass has you itch­ing to get more stock, think about num­bers. The ideal stock­ing rate isn’t what you can carry in good times but ap­prox­i­mately 75% of that, so you can more eas­ily adapt if pas­ture is af­fected by drought.


WAY. If you’ve been feed­ing out hay you’ve brought in, ei­ther last sum­mer or through win­ter, it’s highly likely there’s go­ing to be a bed of weed seeds wait­ing to fight their way out of the ground in the next few weeks. It’s a good idea to walk through your pas­ture ev­ery week or so and keep an eye out on what’s sprout­ing so you can get on to fight­ing it early when it’s a small prob­lem.

Tip: if you do have to buy in hay, it’s a good idea to al­ways feed it out in the one area in a pad­dock so you limit any spread of weed seeds (or any toxic plants) to one area, rather than all over your block. Col­lect­ing food scraps is a re­ally eco­nomic way to grow pork, but you need to make sure any scraps that con­tain meat are boiled (100°C) for an hour, a le­gal re­quire­ment for any pig owner un­der the Biose­cu­rity Act, to stop any chance of Foot & Mouth Disease. Pig pel­lets and food waste that has not been in con­tact with meat or eggs is ok to feed un­cooked.

If you are con­sid­er­ing get­ting pigs for the first time, it’s ideal to get two wean­ers, aged 7-8 weeks, to keep each other com­pany and warm. It also gives you the op­tion of hav­ing the big­ger of the two butchered at 4-5 months of age for ham and pork, and the other 6-8 weeks later for ba­con. Pigs need good fences with out­rig­gers and tight hot wires at 15cm and 30cm from the ground to keep them con­tained. If you are lin­ing a pen with tin, put it on the in­side of the fence as pigs like to chew on tim­ber. WARMTH is the key to good growth so the first ba­sic is good shel­ter that pro­tects pigs from wind, rain and sun, with good ven­ti­la­tion. Pigs don’t sweat, so in sum­mer a deep mud wal­low is al­ways ap­pre­ci­ated (the muddy ground is cooler) as is a shaded area, ei­ther a tree or a lean-to.

Any twin or triplet lambs should be checked morn­ing and night to make sure they are get­ting enough feed – a hol­low tummy means you may need to feed the lamb ex­tra milk, or take it off its mother and bot­tle-feed it.

LAC­TAT­ING LIVE­STOCK will be drink­ing a lot more wa­ter, and they’ll drink more if the sup­ply is clean and eas­ily avail­able. Make sure young lambs can’t jump/fall into troughs and drown by plac­ing boards or mesh over the top so only a small area is avail­able for drink­ing.

Talk to your vet about pos­si­ble sup­ple­men­ta­tion of io­dine and se­le­nium for lambs. Symp­toms of io­dine-de­fi­ciency in­clude high death rate in new­born lambs. Se­le­ni­umd­e­fi­cient soil is rel­a­tively com­mon in NZ and your vet will know if it is in your area. It will par­tic­u­larly af­fect your lambs and symp­toms in­clude ill-thrift, di­ar­rhoea, low milk pro­duc­tion, low con­cep­tion rates, and white mus­cle disease. Like io­dine and cop­per, se­le­nium can be toxic if you dose when it’s not re­quired, so al­ways work with your vet. If you want to rear calves this year, there should be a good se­lec­tion avail­able this month. It is bet­ter to buy calves for rear­ing di­rect from a farmer you know and trust, so you can be sure they have re­ceived four days of colostrum, the rel­e­vant vac­ci­na­tions, and good af­ter-birth care (ie navel sprayed with io­dine).

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