Raising Pigs On Pasture and Woodlot
Every year I raise a batch of pigs for our farm, our family, and our customers. They are a fun and welcome part of the farm and everyone seems to love them. I personally get a lot of joy out of seeing how smart they are, the positive effect they can have on my land when managed well, and how good they can taste when they are raised properly.
2017 Camps Road Farm Pigs
This year we are raising our smallest number of pigs yet. It's actually kind of crazy. For reasons that fit into our wholistic plan we decided to do the minimum number of pigs in order to cut back on some of our markets while still serving our core customer base. Take into account as you read through my information that it is both a big deal to have 7 pigs and laughably small in scale.
The most pigs I have raised at once was 20. That was a blast and I actually hope to scale up to about 40-50 hogs a year if I can support it. If you think about it, that's only selling 4 pigs a month. For now this is what fits into our overall plan and I am just happy to have the cute little oinkers around.
2017 Quick Stats
My Pig Breeds (crosses of these three)
The American Landrace is a long, lean, white pig with 16 or 17 ribs. The head is long and narrow and the ears large and heavy and hang forwards close to the snout. The back is only slightly arched or is nearly flat. The side is even and well-fleshed and the ham is plump but not over-fat. The sows produce plenty of milk, the lactation peaking at five weeks, which is rather later than is the case in most breeds. They are prolific with good mothering abilities. (Source Wikipedia)
The Large White has proved itself as a rugged and hardy breed that can withstand variations in climate and other environmental factors. Their ability to cross with and improve other breeds has given them a leading role in commercial pig production systems and breeding pyramids around the world. (Source Wikipedia)
The Chester White is a versatile breed suited to both intensive and extensive husbandry. Though not as popular as the Duroc, Yorkshire, or Hampshire, the Chester White is actively used in commercial crossbreeding operations for pork. The Chester White is the most durable of the white breeds; it can gain as much as 1.36 pounds (0.62 kg) a day and gain 1 pound (0.45 kg) for every 3 pounds (1.4 kg) of grain it is fed. Their pale color leaves Chester Whites prone to sunburn; they must be given access to shade in the summer. (Source Wikipedia)
Pig Record Keeping
I do my best to keep accurate records of everything. I have adapted to having this waterproof box kept outside the pig fence next to the fence charger so that I can keep track of what happens to the pigs without them eating my notes. "The pig ate my homework."
Do you name your pigs?
Yes. Last year they were all named after famous super models. This year our 7 pigs are named Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Happy, Sleepy, Sneezy and Grumpy.
Doesn't that make it hard when the time comes to... ya know... make bacon?
It is never easy to take a life. The pigs having names or not does not make it any more enjoyable or unenjoyable when the time comes. From the time they arrive on farm they have a purpose. They are on farm to eat and put on weight and gain muscle so that they may in turn provide healthy protein for us.
I am a happy meat eater. Humans evolved to eat meat and in most cases it can be a healthy part of a balanced diet. If I am going to put food in my body you can bet I am going to put a lot of thought into how that food was grown. I started farming because it was hard for me to get access to good food. I soon found out that if I really wanted to eat wholesome and not lose my whole paycheck at Wholefoods I was going to need to start growing it myself.
If I am going to eat meat, then the life and death of the animal I am eating should be part of my experience at least once in my life, if not a regular reminder that meat takes some sort of sacrifice. It is part of the process.
YouTube Playlist of Pig Videos: 20+ videos
I document a lot of what I do and what I learn on YouTube. Join me there for videos on:
- how I raise pigs on pasture and in woodlot
- how I built my feeder, waterer, and shelter
- how I load the pigs onto a trailer for processing
- and more...