Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Little Swine O' Mine

We have raised hogs for a number of years since moving to our little farm but most breeds of hog are a lot to handle and butchering weights are more than we are equipped to deal with. We really like Tamworth hogs, they are slower growing than commercial breeds but the bacon is amazing and the ham is a deep red color with a much richer flavor than that pale, watery commercial ham you buy in the store. The problem is that while killing them isn't a problem, handling the carcass certainly is. 

So we decided to get some smaller hogs that would do well on forage and poor quality feed. We settled on the somewhat rare American Guinea hog and bought a few gilts (unbred females). They only get around 200-300 lbs when full grown and hanging weight is usually well under 200 lbs, we plan on butchering for meat when the hanging weight will be under 150 lbs. The Guinea Hog females are technically sexually mature very young but it is recommended they not be bred until they are at least a year old. We didn't get a boar so we selected a different breed, a Kunekune, for the male. When the time was right we put on some Barry White, provided some champaign and they commenced to makin' bacon.


Hogs usually have around a 114 day gestation or about 3 1/2 months. Early summer humping leads to late summer babies, we got 9 piglets out of this sow but lost a couple. Tonight we let the 7 little squealers out of the confined area they had been living in and out onto grass for the first time.




They are super cute right now and are already nibbling at grass as expected from two breeds that are noted for being good at foraging. 

We are trying to focus on livestock that doesn't require a commercial feed to thrive, assuming that at some point large scale commercial agriculture will break down and you won't be able to buy pig food at the local feed mill or Tractor Supply.

Cute now but when they are older and it is time to butcher them, the smaller carcass size will be a lot easier for us to handle. They are small and easy to handle, surviving on grass if need be. I'll let you know how they taste when we get around to butchering them and cooking them up.

19 comments:

  1. We’ve been thinking about getting some hogs for our few acres. I’ll be eagerly awaiting updates.
    CJ

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  2. We are focusing on raising livestock that could work with little to no supply chains propping them up, in the event that things get sporty. We have mainly grass and weeds, and we chose a hardy landrace sheep that were naturally selected over hundreds of years in our region. We might have been able to do a cow or two, but as you noted, that’s a bigger carcass than I am set up to handle. Butchering lamb or mutton won’t be much different than butchering a deer (I’m experienced with that). We want to butcher our first lambs here before winter.

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  3. We were just discussing the kunekune for our land last weekend. Also looking at a minilature cow.

    Exile1981

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    1. We would like a mini Jersey for milk but they are crazy expensive around here

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    2. Art- See about Dexter cattle.

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  4. No livestock animals here but we have plenty of neighbors raising sheep, chickens and cows. Our specialty is grapes. Right now we are picking, plucking and crushing the bounty by hand as we do every September. We’ll make 1200 bottles this year. Anything you grow and process yourself is far better than the phony manufactured chemistry stuff you buy at the grocery store and in a pinch meat and fermented grapes are always In high demand. I mentioned to my wife today that grapes turned into wine never spoil and is a crop with zero waste.

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    Replies
    1. Having something you can barter is always a good idea.

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    2. I am seeing more people raising chickens, in suburban neighborhoods

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  5. Purchased 2 Red Wattle (heritage breed) boars last spring and two gilts this summer. We now have the boars on approx. 10 acres of pasture with some mixed hardwoods and will turn the gilts in with them to breed in Nov. While larger than your mix we usually slaughter at around 350 lbs so size is not an issue.The pasture has made quite a difference in the amount of feed we give them. Looking forward to updates.

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    1. If we had a skid loader so we could hoist them up it would be OK, right now we can go to a friend's place with a hoist to hang them but we want something we can do at home.

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  6. If you run out of pig feed, democrats would probably do just fine.

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    1. Nah, I plan on eating these pigs at some point, I wouldn't want the meat tainted.

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  7. Replies
    1. Not sure what you mean, for the acorns?

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    2. acorns are a mast pig food jackie at backwoods home magazine had some raised in oak forest said they were delicious

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    3. Before the American chestnut blight, pork was a major industry in Appalachia. They fattened them up on chestnut mast in the forest.

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    4. "Dunstan" hybrid chestnuts are in the horticultural trade now. Gitsum.

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  8. the pig is a magical animal

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    Replies
    1. Turns vegetables into bacon. Magic.

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