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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Raising pigs!

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I decided a couple of months ago that we are going to raise pigs this year.  Just a handful, enough to feed our family and a bit extra to sell to our farm's customers.

Almost all pork is now raised in confinement barns.... another CAFO (confined animal feedlot operation) scenario, just like the caged chickens & confined cows.  I would guess 99% of pork is raised this way, and definitely 100% of regular grocery-store pork.

We'll be raising our pigs differently - outdoors, with access to the fresh air & sunshine, allowed to live a good life and act like the piggies they are. 

So, once I decided to raise pigs, I began researching - reading lots of books.  I decided we'll start with feeder pigs - basically these are weaned baby pigs (about 2 months old), purchased from another farm, and "fed out" on our farm until they reach market weight.

No problem, right?  Wrong.  I had a heck of a time finding feeder pigs!  It turns out that most farmers aren't raising hogs anymore... it's all gone the industrial farm route (huge confinement operations).  Now, I was put in contact with a few of these farmers and spoke with them.  They're neighbors, farmers trying to make a living, and of course I respect that.  However, a hybrid pig bred for confinement just wasn't what I was looking for.

So I contacted a farmer about 1 hour away.  I had visited his farm last fall to view his pastured chickens & turkeys, he's in line with the same type of farming we do here at Wishful Acres.  I knew he also raised cows & hogs, I had purchased some of his pork when I was there and it was the best pork I'd ever had.

I knew the breed of pig I wanted: English heritage Berkshire!  If you're unfamiliar, Berkshire is to pork what Angus is to beef.  The highest quality, most delicious pork... it even looks different from traditional pork - the fat is marbled throughout the meat like a good beef steak.  And the taste... delicious!  Especially the pork raised in good, humane, outdoor conditions.  What a difference!

Turns out this farm is raising a Berkshire breed crossed with another couple of heritage breeds.  And... we'll be buying a handful of feeder pigs from him!  The lovely heritage Berkshire / Duroc / White Chester crossed pigs will make their appearance here on our farm in early May!



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2 comments:

  1. Oh how cool! You are so amazing :)

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  2. So great! I wish I lived somewhere I could have pigs, and roosters--more chicks! How fun! Have a great year on the farm.

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