Ben Spurgeon has been farming outdoor breeding pigs for the past 15 years and has two units in Norfolk. He uses the BQP production system and raises his pigs on grass fields, and whilst sowing grass is not essential Ben has found it to be a huge benefit to himself and his landlord.
“Whilst there is an initial cost to grassing pig fields, it has such great benefits for you and your landlord”. Ben said there are three ways to get the most out of grassing the fields the first is growing maize and under sows the grass. Alongside the pigs, Ben also has his own sheep: “the grass is good for grazing sheep over the winter and I find the easiest way is to get a hay crop which can also be used by the sheep or sold. BQP will also add a bonus payment for pigs on grass which helps with the cost”.
Having grass has allowed Ben to have a lot more control of the land, allowing him to move fields during the spring with drier weather and longer days. It also allows extra time to plan, measure, rodent control and site fencing which takes a lot of pressure on the staff when moving fields.
There are also environmental benefits to grassing fields: improvement of soil structure, less run off, better intake of Nitrogen and reduces fuel use in tractors and other equipment as they do not have to work as hard. Also, the equipment is cleaner and requires less maintenance.
“Pigs benefit by grazing the grass and getting gut fill causing less stress and in general seem more content, they also eat less straw saving money again”. Ben has also found that grass is much easier for staff to work with and is much more pleasing on the eye!