Rodale Institute Animal Operations Tags Last Group of Pigs for 2017

Piglets weaned from their mother are given ear tags for identification and tracking while they grow. Rick Carr, Rodale Institute’s Compost Production Specialist and Animal Husbandry Intern June Chiango tagged 17 piglets this week. These piglets will be part of a research study funded by the UNFI Foundation that monitors growth and development over time.

The Institute’s Animal Operations Team, including June, Rick, Farm Manager Ross Duffield, Animal Husbandry Specialist Shelby Dukes and ASC intern Larry Byers, have been weighing different groups of pigs to investigate the nutrient contribution of pastures for pork production. Their goal is to increase our understanding of how pasture type, conditions, and management strategies can supplement pig dietary requirements. Rodale Institute pigs are provided with full-time outdoor access for grazing and foraging but they are fed grain inside the facility as well. What they would like to achieve is to maximize nutrient contribution from the pasture so that they can reduce grain inputs, which would significantly reduce the cost of production.

The data they have collected so far shows that pastured pigs gain about 11 pounds per week. Weight gain decreases however, when feeding is restricted and the pigs are forced to forage more in the field. This was the case with Group 4 when they were moved from the hog facility, where they were fed ad libitum, to the apple orchard and fed a restricted amount of grain.

In 2018, the Animal Operations Team will continue to track pig weight gain and analyzed that data with grain and pasture consumption. Plant biomass samples will be collected from the pasture while the pigs have access in order to estimate how much they consume. Additionally, two different types of pastures (alfalfa and clover) will be established to study how pasture type influences growth and development. There are a number of other research questions the team will be addressing in the near future and sharing with organic pork producers throughout the Northeast U.S.

3 Responses to “Rodale Institute Animal Operations Tags Last Group of Pigs for 2017”

  1. David Mims

    Do you have/share proforma for 2016-2017 yet, showing expected ROI RE/initial capital investment ? I’d like to compare with neighbor, Joel Salatin’s less capital-intensive process.
    Also, interested in the anticipated numbers comparing selling as “certified” organic vs. merely to “knowledgeable consumer”.
    Thank you for all you do.
    David Mims
    A Fan

  2. Ted Stephens

    I understand the added expense of feeding grain to the hogs but have you got numbers on growing and finishing the hogs on straight pasture versus using grain for growing and finishing. I know when we had hogs on pasture and were supplementing with grain that they would rather stay out in the pasture field than come in for grain. We have never tried to grow and finish hogs on straight pasture but would be curious to see if it can be done profitably and still obtain a quality carcess. Have fun and can’t wait to see your results.

  3. gary metzger

    I am involved as a board member of Zest Labs a company that has 68 issued patents on RFID encrypted tags that can track and monitor fresh produce and any protein from time picked at a farm to the retail store . We measure time, temperature, location, vibration etc. The data is stored in the cloud and we can uniquely identify real time shelf life of most any asset including the identification of the egg /or parents so we can help monitor the genetics. We use animal tags that can be read at about 100 meters away. We can identify elevated body temperatures while monitoring the movement of animals and for see potential issues such as why certain animals do not show up to get water or feed and have alerts to the farmer/ rancher. We have completed pilot studies with growers and you can see some of our results as we have changed the way produce is handled and we can now accurately predict actual remaining shelf life and we have provided intelligent software to instruct where product can ship based on the remaining time left. We monitor pallet level and can follow the variables thru transportation and at the loading docks in real time . As I have been a follower and a past subscriber of organic gardening I am now very passionate about using this unique technology to help deal with the 31% of food waste that continues to negatively impact our resources (fertilizer, labor, fuel . energy , water, etc, that is also wasted.
    We need to find better ways to feed the world and keep food products affordable.
    Please let me know how we may work together to help solve this ever pressing issue.
    Thank you,
    Gary Metzger


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