A New Model for the Lifetime Care of Rescued Pigs
We recognize that there will be an adaptation process for all pigs arriving at The Preserve. Some pigs will adapt to The Preserve lifestyle much more easily and naturally than will others. All pigs have a natural instinct to forage and find nutritious foods in the right balance...if it is available to them. So we must first throw out our previous tactics of regularly feeding a 'balanced', programmed diet without forcing the pigs into a 'survival of the fittest' mentality. In short, we must find a way to encourage their natural ability to adapt without letting any pig go without proper nutrition...an interesting challenge.
-The Preserve will go to great lengths to provide the pigs with an abundance of native fruit and nut trees on which to forage. Garden plots of wild vegetables will be planted each spring, temporarily fenced until they mature and then made available to the pigs. Gardens will be natural gardens. No fertilizers or chemicals will ever be used in any crop grown at The Preserve for the pigs. The goal will be to afford the pigs a pristine and natural environment and the ability to forage for much of their daily nutritional needs. As time goes on, the pigs will help spread undigested vegetable and fruit seeds in their manure. In the out years, we anticipate the need for garden plots to diminish as wild vegetables and fruit trees begin to yield 'natural gardens'.
-We anticipate that, during the high forage season, the pigs will be able to obtain at least 50% of their daily nutritional needs from the land. The Preserve will supplement their feed, as required, to keep each pig at a healthy, optimum weight. The Preserve will feed a grain based feed mixture and, during the winter months, this feed will provide the majority of the pigs' nutritional needs. However, there will be no 'set' feeding schedule. History has shown us that pigs can easily learn to anticipate the 'human schedule' and will forego foraging, rooting and grazing if they become too dependent on a regular feeding schedule. Our goal is to keep them 'burning calories' while 'getting calories' and, thus, we will feed at random intervals each day...occasionally skipping a day during periods when natural forage is abundant.
-We are also hoping that local businesses and even private citizens will donate fresh vegetables and fruit to us to give to the pigs as supplements to their natural forage. We are not contemplating, nor would we ever, feed the pigs 'slops' or the uneaten food from restaurants or fast food establishments, but grocery stores frequently have fresh produce that has been removed from their shelves simply because the shelf life has expired. The majority of this produce is still good and could easily be used to supplement the natural diet of the pigs at The Preserve. In the fall, thousands of unsold pumpkins abound and should be available for the pigs if we can convince local produce stores to donate them to us.
-One of our goals is to never feed the pigs any processed foods. Working with a local miller and a number of nutritionists, we have developed an all-natural, locally milled feed for pigs at The Preserve. Our feed, which is milled on the day we pick it up, is a mixture of natural, cracked grains...corn, corn gluten, wheat, barley, whole rolled oats, cracked oats, soy protein and molasses. It contains absolutely no chemicals, no additives and no preservatives. All of the ingredients are grown either locally or regionally. No imported grains are used in our feed. Our feed is not processed or pelletized. It is ground to a coarse 'granola' or 'kibble' consistency, which makes it highly digestible. Because it is an all-natural feed, we mill smaller quantities more frequently...never storing feed at The Preserve for longer than 3-4 weeks. We are convinced that many of the chemical and artificial 'additives' put into commercial pig feed are not necessary and may, in fact, be potentially dangerous to our pigs. They will get most of these vitamins, minerals and trace elements from their environment without the need for arbitrary supplementation. To ensure that our feed is, indeed, meeting the nutritional needs of the pigs, we will conduct routine, random soil analyses. Should dramatic soil deficiencies be identified in the future, we may find it necessary to add some essential, natural elements to their feed...such as salt, calcium carbonate or selenium. But our initial investigation indicates that all of the essential ingredients for good health are already available in the soil in sufficient quantities.