Our Pig Raising Philosophy
We do a number of things differently that commercial hog “farms” (and I use that term loosely).
As much as possible, we try to allow the animals to do what they want to do. We give the pigs lots of space, to cut down on stress. We treat the pigs as gently as possible.
No Cruel Confinement
We don’t confine the pigs. There are no farrowing boxes, where momma pigs can’t turn around to be with their babies. There are no metal pens on cement floors. The pigs are outside nearly all the time, including winter (if they choose to go out) with access to fresh air and dirt. Most pigs are hardy and can withstand the elements well when provide them with additional shelter. In the hot months, we ensure they can wallow and find shade. Pigs are exceptionally clean aninals, and will only go to the bathroom in one area, if given the opportunity. They need mud to wallow in, however, for a number of reasons. 1) Pigs like to play! 2) The mud protects them from insect bites and 3) the mud protects them from sunburn (especially the pink ones!) . We don’t ring the pigs’ noses, (a practice routinely carried out on other farms so that the animals do not root up the ground) so they may root as much as they want. In fact, we actually encourage rooting (the Tamworths were great at that) because the pigs make the very best “ploughs” around, rooting up compacted soil, eating grass, then grass roots, and fertilizing at the same time. They make a perfect rototiller, with zero soil compaction, and lots of happy microbes!
• We don’t clip the piglets’ needle teeth at birth, as many farmers do.
• We don’t ring their noses. We want our pigs to root in up the dirt.
• We don’t dock their tails. Docking tails is common practise on large farms, done because in confinement, and with little to do, pigs get bored, and start to nibble on each other’s tails. That creates sores, which, of course in that environment don;t heal well, which in turn creates an infection, which has to be treated with yet more antibiotics. Yeesh. We provide our pigs with enough space so that this is not necessary.
• None of our baby boys are castrated, a practiec now banned in much of Europe. No boar taint (what folks refer to when their sausage tastes, well, like an old pig) is in our meat, because the shoats don’t get to breeding age, and therefore never have hormones in enough quantity to affect the meat.
No Drugs, Hormones or Chemicals
The pigs do not receive any hormones or sub-therapeutic antibiotics in their feed. Ever. Yuck. Nor do we feed the pigs synthetic nutrients like urea.
Natural Diet, No Herbicides
The pigs eat what they find pasture, which includes grass, weeds and roots. We also feed them a supplemental grain mix and a mineral supplement from an organic feed mill.
The pastures haven’t been sprayed with pesticides or fertilized with chemicals in years.
Low-input and Sustainable
The animals are moved to new pig areas before permanently destroying their pasture. The exception to this is when we want the pigs to till up the pasture for planting; then the pig area will be left in this spot long enough to till the soil. The pigs have plenty of space in the pig areas, so there are no waste issues. Waste is re-incorprated into the pasture as fertilizer.