Forrest Pritchard is a full-time sustainable farmer and New York Times bestselling author, holding a BA in English and a BS in Geology from William & Mary. Smith Meadows, his farm, was one of the first “grass finished” operations in the country, and has sold at leading farmers’ markets in Washington DC for nearly two decades. Pritchard's first two books received starred reviews from The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and NPR, and his latest book is set to debut in 2018.

23 responses to “How To Raise Pigs On Pasture”

  1. Susan Marquis (@susanlmarquis)

    Hard to imagine where one (prospective farmer or interested consumer) would find a more thorough or thoughtful run down on sustainably, and ethically, raising pigs. Want to know where your food comes from ? Take the time to read this essay.

  2. Mandy

    Very nice plan. I can see using this for free-range chickens as well. Watching the pasture rest and renew must be extremely satisfying. I love watching nature take steps to rejuvenate itself.

  3. Steve Ernst

    Forrest, Excellent job describing your system. Per my bias it is important to note that a structured breeding plan of genetics designed to thrive in the outdoor environment is key for success. Keep up the great management and outstanding prose!

  4. Stephanie

    Hi Forrest – can you expand on what you feed your pigs (ie. what ratio of barley to wheat? anything else other than grain and pasture?) I have pastured pigs in Nova Scotia – and am trying to fine tune my non-GMO home-made grain mixture – experimenting with fermenting and addition of (a wee bit of) whey. But would love to know what works for you – am finding it nearly impossible to find any “recipes” online that don’t rely on corn or soy or an abundance of whey/milk. Do you make any changes as the pigs age? Can you recommend an online source for feed information? Thanks so much. Loved your book by the way 😉

  5. Sam Bass

    Hi Forrest,

    I have a 160 farm that has only had a few horses and some cattle on in for the last few years. It has maybe 60 acres of fairly flat pasture land and the rest in trees with a lot of underbrush. I am new to farming but have been sold on Salatin’s ideals. My wife recently died of cancer and I am convinced that the normal American diet is a major problem. I cannot afford cattle at this time. I would like to do chickens and pigs to start out with. I am not sure how to start. Should I use your mob grazing chicken or tractors? Should I put pigs in the woods as Joel does? I am 62 and have three young children still at home and we are excited about doing this. However, at my age I do not need to make a lot of mistakes. Besides I want my children to get the most out of learning how to do this with success. I also home-school. Another reason I desire to do this is to help my friends in Africa and South America. We tried traditional american farming with some of them and it has failed miserably. I am hoping this might become a training/resource center for them. Do you do consulting? Any assistance you may offer will be appreciated.
    Love your blog.

  6. D&M Farms

    Thanks for sharing your failures and successes. My husband & I have started raising pastured poultry following Joel’s model, but we want to add pigs. Although we have wooded area as Joel has demonstrated in his “pig in the Glen” model, we want to bring the pigs on the field to knock down a corn maze and prepare the ground for a cover crop without bringing out the tractors. Very little specific info available through my state extension service about pastured pigs, so we will use your experiences to develop our own approach.

    Thanks again!!

  7. Amber Kenyon

    Thank you for the article. We have a fairly large custom grazing operation and are in our second year of pasturing pigs. It’s been a learning curve, but we’re really enjoying it. We have heard mixed reviews of running chickens and goats with the pigs and think we’ll give it a try this Spring. Any ideas or recommendations for when we implement this? Also, when it’s time to catch the pigs, how do you do this with a cell center? Currently, we have a portable cage that we move around on pasture, so we can bribe them into it and lock them in when needed. Thanks again!

  8. 2015 Pasture Raised Pigs Budget | Farm Marketing Solutions

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  10. Takashi DeHart

    I’m a visual kinda guy – can you share a layout of what you describe in this article? I mean I think I get it but a diagram would seal it in my mind.

    I have a small startup on six acres that we are slowing turning into a farm, installing fencing and making pastures as we can. Our property is long and narrow and I am trying to figure out the best way I can lay it out to rotate our animals thru so we dont have the same issues that you talk about above. For reference we have a young boar and a sow for breeding stock and intend to never have more than one litter (at most) on the property at any given time. So, I’m worried about the litter when they get close to the butchering weight and the effect it will have on the property. It seems to me that 10-14 150-200lb pigs can do alot of damage in a short amount of time. Other than the pigs, we have around 50 laying hens, a hand full of turkeys, and a handful of dairy goats.

    Takashi DeHart
    Crete, IL

  11. thesecondthoughts


    Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge. I have just a couple follow-up questions:

    1 Do the pigs have access to the hub and a paddock at all times, or are they turned out to the paddock in the morning, closed in, and then moved back to the hub at night?

    2 Are you still happy with the watering system and wallow control in the ‘sacrifice’ zone?

    3 How did you construct your perimeter fence — ie high-tensile, welded wire, a combination of both? Is it electrified?

    Thanks again,

  12. Joel Bessmer

    Would you be willing, at my expense, to come to our Nebraske farm and help us get set up correctly? We have an large family and 80-acre farm with the intent of raising animals the right way!!! I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel. We’ve read all of Salatin’s books, but having you come give us direction would be ideal.

  13. Keenan

    Do you also rotate the sacrifice area? How crucial is it to have it on high ground? If one were to have a parcel in which “high ground” were virtually non existant, what would be the course of action you would reccommend?

  14. Feedback on my feeder pig pen plans - Homesteading Today

    […] know this is not an exact science but the numbers help me). I got the hub and spoke idea from the Smiths Medows Farm blog but watered it down to my size. They do 26 half acre slices for 50-60 pigs moved every 2 […]

  15. Sal

    Nice article. Is it possible to do this without the grain rations and only giving kitchen scraps/old milk instead? I am not only interested in keeping costs down, but more importantly, if I ever have the chance to grow slowly and sell at the local farmer’s market, i want to be able to say “grain free (except kitchen scraps)”.

  16. Brady

    Hi Forrest-

    Thank you for writing this very informative article. However, I’m just wondering:

    Did you dedicat a 15 acre parcel just for pigs, or did you allow cattle to graze in the pasture after it has been rested? If so, how soon do you let cattle back onto a piece of pasture that has been rooted up, or would that be too rough on a parcel?

    Also, you said you’re growing 250 hogs on 15 acres. How do you stagger the groups of pigs? (I.e. how many half acres of pasture do you keep between two groups).

    Thanks again,


  17. Jack Smith

    Does your book explain the above procedure in detail with pictures ?

  18. Jon Tomlinson

    Hi Forrest, I have a question. Umm correction, I have a lot of questions. We have 200 acres of heavy oak forest with 13 acres of grass,
    My plan had been to do what you did with your hub but in the woods, soil is very sandy and fast draining.
    Your Thoughts? Also just purchased Gaining Ground

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