Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tamworth pigs are growing fast

The three Tamworth pigs we brought home about a month ago are doing great and seem to be growing almost before our eyes. David insists that when he feeds them late in the day, they look bigger than they did in the morning. Not to sound like a sentimental parent or anything, but is there anything more adorable than baby pigs? OK, maybe baby ducks...

As usual with Tamworths, they are plowing up their current paddock quite happily and efficiently, so we will be moving them to an adjacent paddock in the next couple of days. We've finally started to get some summer weather (80s for daytime high predicted all week), so we're going to keep re-seeding the pastures until the first fall frosts discourage such behavior.

Our average first frost is around mid-October, although we were surprised one year by a night in the 20s in September. Everyone says we're in for a hard winter, and I hear rumors of another La Nina season. Now that it's been over five years since we moved to the farm, maybe I should start learning something about the weather! I guess I assumed that El Nino and La Nina more or less alternated, but if predictions pan out, this would be two La Nina winters back to back.

What are you doing to prepare for winter? I've had a lot of questions lately about heating and/or insulating chicken coops. Do you do either of these before the cold weather sets in? I'd love to hear your comments and ideas.


  1. When I was younger living in the Puget Sound area we would have chickens and ducks. So this time of year we would adding more hay to the hen house.

  2. This will be our second winter with chickens and, although we have a heat lamp for drastically low temps, we did not have to use it last year.

    We just bought about 10 extra bales of straw and placed them around the inside of the coop, up against the walls, 1 or two high. This blocked any drafts and the ladies seemed very content. We also did not shovel out the coop all winter. We just put fresh straw down over the old straw and poop and let the composting happen. This provided heat under-foot and provided extra insulation.

    A note on this method - I had my husband shovel out the coop in the spring. :)

  3. We also stacked up bales of straw on the north side of the main coop to protect against the cold winter winds. I have done a lot of experimenting with the deep-bedding system you mentioned, just adding fresh straw etc. My conclusion is that this works well in coops of a certain size, say 4' by 6' minimum. In smaller coops I've found that there isn't enough volume for the straw to compost effectively. Otherwise, I really like this method, especially since you can put off the coop-cleaning chores.

    By the way, another benefit of the deep-bedding system is that the heat generated by the composting process kills off (or at least discourages) some kinds of parasites and their eggs.

    I've been somewhat surprised at how well even the Nankin banties do in the winter here; they're not known for being cold-hardy, and of course they're quite small, but they seem to do just fine. Usually our wosrst cold-weather problem is keeping the drinkers from freezing.

  4. I agree that it's been over five years since moved to the farm.