Seeding Pasture for Pigs

Some notes about seeding pasture for pigs…  My pasture seed mix for pig pasture is a mix of grasses and legumes.  A lot of the seed I use can be found in cover crop mixes.

There are several goals that I hope to achieve with this mix of seed.

  • food for pigs
  • soil improvement
  • water and nutrient retention (cover crops are good at this)

5/19– I seeded paddocks 1 and 2 (pasture 1) with:

  • 20 lbs of Tall Fescue
  • 25 lbs of Gardenway cover crop (Austrian Winter Peas, Ryegrain, Crimson Clover, Annual Ryegrass, Common Vetch, and Buckwheat)
  • 2 lbs of Crimson Clover (additional)

I need to add Alfalfa.  I’d like to seed 2 lbs per 5000 square feet.  This is a little high but it’s going to be hard to apply the seed evenly.

I also plan on adding rapeseed.

About the pasture…

The dimensions of Pasture 1 are 40′ x 125′ (5000 feet square) (By the way, there are 43,560 square feet in an acre.)  I’ll have spent around $80 in seed by the time I am done.

The soil is silt/sand.  The cover is sparse.  Water does not stay long.  Nutrients wash out easily.

You might wonder why I’m using cover crop mix.  Covering the soil means that it is shaded.  The sun won’t bake water out as fast.  Also, many cover crops fertilize the soil (nitrogen fixers).  Even if the crop doesn’t fertilize directly, it will hold on to and exchange nutrients as well as help develop sod.

Tall Fescue is in the mix because it doesn’t need much water and develops deep roots. It takes several years to fill in.   More info here.

Austrian Winter Peas:  These are in the cover crop mix.  I’d rather have field peas.  We’ll see if they work.  Peas, like clover and alfalfa are a legume.  Legumes are nitrogen fixers.  Not only are they edible to pigs, but they act as a fertilizer.  They’re often called green manure for this reason.  This seed is usually planted in the fall.

Ryegrain:  This is a cereal that’s usually planted in the fall as well.  It’s good at choking out other plants and works well with legumes like clover and alfalfa.  I’m hoping that the rye will fill in until the fescue can take off.

Crimson Clover:  I love this stuff.  It’s a legume, so it’s feeding the soil.  It grows quickly.  My experience is that it takes off faster than alfalfa.  The animals love to eat it.  It does seem to require more water than alfalfa though.  Also, the pigs tend to uproot it.

Annual Ryegrass:  Another bunchgrass that has a lot in common with fescue.  It’s nutritious and is used for erosion control.  I’m hoping it will build sod.  I also think I’m allergic to it.  :-(

Common Vetch:  I’m pretty excited about this one.  It’s an experiment.  It’s another legume.  It’s great for livestock and people have used it for food in prehistoric times.  It grows well with grasses and it’s a legume.

Buckwheat:  The mix I’m using is for winter cover crop.  Buckwheat usually needs cool conditions, so I don’t expect it to grow right now.  It’s not wheat, but its seeds are edible and it’s a great cover crop.

Rapeseed:  This is a brassica (mustard and cabbage).  Animals can eat it but my understanding is that it’s pretty bitter.  It’s a good cover crop.

Alfalfa:  The best for last.  This is an amazing legume.  It’s cut for hay and is highly nutritious.  It doesn’t need as much water as many other legumes.  Note to self:  think about making silage for goats.  The pigs eat it but don’t seem to uproot.

I threw out some alfalfa and crimson clover seed on our property a couple years ago.  I fenced that part of the property this spring and the pigs are on it…


You can see that the alfalfa has been trampled but the pigs haven’t uprooted it (unlike almost everything else).  I’m pretty excited about this.  I’m sure the alfalfa will be gone by the time I move the pigs off, but I’m leaving them on the paddocks a long time this year.  I need the paddocks plowed so I can seed.