Thursday, August 22:
Did we mention we were sometimes a little inadequate when it comes to research?
Raw pinto beans contain enzymes which are mildly toxic to pigs. People, too, if it comes to that. Feeding raw cull pintos to pigs severely reduces the animals’ weight gains (note: our further research would tend to indicate that rates less than ten percent are acceptable; some sources seem to indicate that whole plant feeding is fine, possibly because feeding the whole plant is consistent with the low overall feed percentage. My, my, maybe Nature knows what she’s doing).
Along with the mangel wurzels, sugar beets, turnips and corn we planted to follow the potato crop, we put in many rows of pinto beans. These were to serve as green manure, but also as a fodder crop for the young piglets we will put in the garden in November. Who would have thought of the possibility that beans would be bad for pigs?
Fortunately, because of the late planting date – early August — these pintos will be immature, or green, beans, which consist principally of pod, and are an acceptable pig food, although they will not, as we had hoped, supply protein in significant quantities. They will still add nitrogen to the garden soil, which will be a benefit next spring.
So all is not lost. Far from it; we feed the pigs and the soil at the same time. But if those pintos had gone in a month earlier, we might have a problem, because every source we have consulted (we have not been exhaustive) has been very clear that raw pinto beans are detrimental in the diet of the pig. After all our work preparing the pig garden, we would not have been able to pasture the pigs there. In our experience, you never know enough to take your eyes off the road.
There’s always something lurking in the underbrush ready to bite you in the leg.