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Kunekune piglets
We often keep a few pigs on our farm, they are muscular and uncomplaining hard workers, as well as providing us with that special honey cured avo fattened bacon we enjoy.

There is an old country saying - There are fewer domestics when plenty of hams are hanging in the kitchen and it works for us. People say kunekune are no good for ham or any type of eating, what utter nonsense! We have kept pigs of numerous breeds since childhood and like the kunekune the best so far, tough as for a full on outdoor life and great breeders! They are partial to grazing grass and weeds and will turn over the soil for food if its there. They are about the only thing that is really good at destroying problem weeds such as convolvulus. We like to put them into rough areas where we have lost control of the weeds, behind an electric fence, and have them turn it up to prepare it for new orchards.

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Piggy nivarna!

THis spring we put our pigs into full on bamboo shoots. We found this mentioned as a highly effective bamboo control tip while browsing This super website. At first it seemed a bit dodgy to us because of the Cyanogenic glycosides in raw bamboo shoots.  On the net we did not find much; Bambusa vulgaris caused hyperplastic goitre in the experimental animals (Tewe & Maner, 1980).  http://www.inchem.org/documents/jecfa/jecmono/v30je18.htm
  and some worrying cautions here: http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index.jsp?cfile=htm/bc/210800.htm
This mentions the Clinical Effects of cyanide..

Signs (of posioning) can occur within 15-20 min to a few hours after animals consume toxic forage. Excitement can be displayed initially, accompanied by rapid respiration rate. Dyspnea follows shortly, with tachycardia. Salivation, excess lacrimation, and voiding of urine and feces may occur. Vomiting may occur, especially in pigs. Muscle fasciculation is common and progresses to generalized spasms before death. Animals stagger and struggle before collapse. Mucous membranes are bright red but may become cyanotic terminally. Death occurs during severe asphyxial convulsions. The heart may continue to beat for several minutes after struggling and breathing stops. The whole syndrome usually does not exceed 30-45 min. Most animals that live ≥2 hr after onset of clinical signs recover, unless continuous absorption of cyanide from the GI tract occurs.

 

Asking around some of our clued up bamboo Friends we found a range of views, some advising us to be a bit careful. In the end we thought it would be interesting to find out and gave it a go in the name of science.
We have some fully vigorous P. aurea here on the farm which was planted in error back in 1988, we are keen to get rid of it so we electric fenced right around the out side of the whole plant and installed our weeding team, 2x good sized kunekune pigs.
As expected they really went for it, the plant was just about to shoot and they tracked down every single one by smell like truffles and wolfed the lot over about a week. No ill effects were noticed whatsoever and they completely prevented this plant from making a single shoot.   Pigs are so tough and destructive that if they have access to it every year they may be able to easily destroy even this plants ability to grow at all. Interestingly while feeding edulis shoots to the pigs we noticed that if they have a choice they go for the longer older shoots, they have no trouble eating every bit of fresh shoots that are 2m tall or more and maybe they prefer the older material because they have less cyanide? We will keep you posted as we experiment further!