Pigs clear preference is for white clover

Staff Report

LUBBOCK, Texas: There is a saying that describes a very happy person as being as happy as a pig in clover.

Recent research by H.A. Rachuonyo and V. G. Allen published in The Journal of Animal Science confirmed this observation.

A research trial was designed to study the suitability of four forages for grazing by pigs.

The four forages were pure stands of white clover, alfalfa, tall fescue and buffalograss.

Eight mature gilts were to be randomly assigned to one of each the four blocks for two days and behavioral data, including walking, eating, grazing, rooting, drinking, standing, lying, and time spent in a hut were video-monitored.

The gilts initially had access to all four forages for a two day adjustment period. They were then to be randomly assigned to one of the four forage stands.

However, the pigs preference for white clover was so strong that they largely destroyed the stand during the adjustment period by first grazing the top growth and then rooting up the plants. As a result, white clover was dropped from the subsequent two day grazing trial.

In the grazing trial, the pigs again showed a clear preference for the legume. They grazed the alfalfa but did not root it up to the extent they had done with the white clover.

The pigs showed very little interest in grazing the two grasses.

The researchers concluded that the two grasses studied offer very little nutrient-wise to pigs but can provide ground cover to assimilate nutrients and prevent soil erosion in a grain-based pastured pig program.

by The Stockman Grass Farmer


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