There is so much diversity in raising a pig. We raise a pig and a half for ourselves every year, and we sell the extra hogs. Pigs need buddies. I would never raise a pig alone.
We raise our pigs to 250 lbs approximately on pasture and grain, and they dress out to 190 lbs of meat and bone. Ever weigh a pig ? We use a hog tape.
They go on pasture at 7 weeks and it usually takes another 6 months for heritage breeds. One pig provides meat enough to feed our family of 4 -9 depending on who’s around for dinner. We have so much variety when we raise a pig, using it nose to tail . Chops, steaks, loins, roasts, ham, bacon, sausage, lard, fat, ribs, bones, organs and ears are all used by us.
Bones are boiled for 14 hours for bone broth and the broth is canned. My grandmother used to make head cheese but I just can’t. I mean I can but I don’t really want to.
I roast the organ meat and add it to chilis and sometimes add it to the dogs food. This year I’m getting my organ meat ground into my ground pork (1/4 organ meat to 1 lb of ground). Organ meats are so full of nutrition but the taste can be a bit much sometimes straight up. And liver texture has always bothered me ever since I was a kid and forced to choke it down. Thanks, dad.
What isn’t used by us is made into compost.
Piglets cost $95 each for a heritage breed , feed costs have run about $377 in the past for each pig (although this year’s cost is expected to rise), and butchering costs, meat cut and wrap run about $100 including the kill fee. We have them done by a government approved abattoir.
If you are having pigs butchered in a government approved facility in Nova Scotia, they must have ear tags. These tags are required for any movement of pigs and you can find more information at Pork Nova Scotia under the PigTrace tab.
The weight of the work with raising pigs is in the management of them. Keeping fences, lugging straw for bedding, bringing spent produce from the grocery store, feeding, tagging, worming, and then loading.
We buy piglets from a local farmer, and don’t keep breeding stock. Farrowing pigs is hard work which I’m not scared of however keeping breeding stock on our other farm would mean much more running back and forth all winter. I really try to have all the animals off pasture by the first of December. Then we start again in April.
We use water nipples instead of troughs as they tip them easily . Electric two wire fence about a foot off the ground keeps them in check for roaming. Fencing is always the biggest issue with pigs as they root and will try to go under everything.
We use an old stock trailer for shelter which makes loading easier because they aren’t scared of the trailer come processing day. We just back up and sprinkle food on the trailer and they walk on. Loading pigs for butchering is best done when they are a little hungry.
A low stress loading process is important for the pig and you. It makes a difference in the taste o the meat and that’s no wives tale.
I know how they were raised, and how they have lived. My hands have touched every one, giving ear and back scratches. The diversity is where raising pigs shines for us.