Eat your Peas

The beauty of field peas for swine is that Austrian Winter Peas can be planted in Fall to harvest in the Spring, and Iron Clay Peas can be planted in the Spring to harvest in the late Summer/Fall.  Therefore, Peas can be consumed by hogs for a good portion of the year.  Also, they grow very well in the Southeast area of the country.  Additionally, Peas can we “hogged off” or self fed by the swine.  Peas are easy for hogs to digest, and contain a high energy content.  And most importantly, the nutrient content of the peas is such that protein in general and lysine in particular are in good quantities in field peas.

Peas are an ideal replacement for soybean meal in swine diets.  Studies have shown that hogs fed peas had lower feed consumed and cost per pound of gain.  We pay about $50/acre (50 lbs) to obtain the seed.  The seed produced on that acre will become approximately 1700lbs per acre.  That seed will provide the hogs approximately 22% protein with a high lysine content.

Peas grow well in our area of Georgia.  We have planted both the winter and the summer peas as a cover crop with much success. To plant, consider a mixture…for example, Rye/AWPs, or Buckwheat/ICPs.  Mixture’s can provide more dry matter per acre, and can help the peas avoid disease pressures. 

The two challenges of growing peas in the Southeast are deer pressure and disease.  The most common disease of the AWPs in the South is Sclerotinia crown rot, which can destroy whole fields during the winter.  Crop rotations can significantly decrease the risk of this disease.  The other major challenge to pea culture in our area is deer.  Due to the high nutrition value of this crop, deer go crazy for peas.  Control of the deer herd through exclusion and harvest will be required.

For Hog feed, Peas can produce approximately 400 – 800 lbs of pork per acre.  A book from from the 1800′s…”Feeds and Feeding” describes pork fed peas as “firm, sweet, and tender with a delicious flavor.”  We will incorporate peas into our feeding program beginning this fall.

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  1. I’m interested to hear how your pea crop is coming along.

    How do you plant your peas? With a seed drill, or do you cultivate?

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