We raise hogs the old-fashioned way — outside, in pens and pastures. Our hogs are a mixture of Duroc, Hampshire, and Yorkshire, along with the heritage breeds of Gloucester Old Spots and Herefords. We have seven sows and one very large boar named Ballsworth. We usually are raising about 40-50 youngsters at any given time.
Eat Like A Pig
As much as they love tearing up the grass with their snouts, pigs won’t get fat on pasture alone. We supplement our hogs’ feed with organic whey left over from nearby Cowgirl Creamery’s cheesemaking operations, along with a custom blend of organic grains. We give them organic grain, even though it is more than three times as expensive as conventional feed, because we do not want our animals to eat genetically modified corn or soy, which is what conventional is.
Breeding and Farrowing
Our sows and boars breed naturally, and the sows farrow (give birth) where they choose. Dan has built these special A-frame “farrowing huts” for them that they really like. There is a little shelf that the piglets can get under to nurse, which also protects them in case their giant 600-pound mama accidentally rolls over on them. Dan put hinges on the top of the shelf so we could lift it up and see the piglets when we want. There is pretty much nothing as cute as a 10-day old piglet.
We do not dock our pigs’ tails or clip their teeth, both of which are standard practices in factory hog operations. Only when they are raised in intensive conditions, with nothing to do but eat, do they turn on each other and bite. If we have a mean pig, we eat him, not breed him! Pigs are social creatures and very, very intelligent. You might not realize it, but they’re also very fastidious: given enough room, a pig will never defecate where he sleeps. We raise our pigs with their littermates; as they get older, we give them more pasture. We use electric tape fences, but to be honest, most of our hogs are too smart for them, which is why you’ll see the smaller pigs traipsing all over the farm. They especially like hanging out with the chickens.
Tastes like a pork chop should
Our pork tastes like pork used to, before it had all the fat and flavor bred out of it. People are just blown away by it!