On March 19, 2016 – the last day of winter – we brought our first pair of feeder pigs to Slippery Slopes Farm. Our very first pair were a Hampshire/Yorkshire mix which is a lean meat, good for eating! We have since experimented with a few different breeds.
Once at home in their 16×16′ pen, they got right to work rooting up the ground. After a week or so we will pull their pen across the pasture, “pig tractor” style, and plant alfalfa, clover, and turnips in the freshly turned and naturally fertilized soil. Our plan is to raise them on as much pasture as possible; the quality of the pasture is important as it contributes to the health of the animal, which contributes to the quality of the meat. When they arrived, “Bacon” and “Pork chop” were 8 weeks old and about 40 pounds – so they needed a diet made up of about 18% protein (this decreased as they got older.) We started them out on a hog feed from Hilander Feed in Georgetown that has soybean meal mixed in (a ratio of about 8 lbs to 50 lbs). They also get spent mash from our friends at Country Boy Brewery, extra or damaged eggs from our ducks (hard boiled first), and garden/kitchen scraps. “Bacon” was eating an old banana in the picture above.
The pigs’ shelter is made from a 275 gal IBC tote that sprung a leak, and the trough is made from our old top bar bee hive. We don’t like to buy new things around here – re-purposing saves money!
In 1.5 weeks (March 29) the pigs were finished rooting up their 256 square foot pen, so we hooked the tractor up to it and pulled it down the pasture. Now it’s time to plant legumes in its place! You can see how well the pigs tilled for us in this video:
On Saturday, June 4, we weighed the pigs, at approx 5 months old. We built a “pig weighing box” out of pallets and chained it to a 440 lb game scale that we lifted with the bucket on the tractor. We lured one pig into the box using hard boiled eggs… at 5 months he weighed 170 pounds.
We weighed the pigs again in 4 weeks, July 9, and they tipped the scale (literally) at 280 pounds, having put on over 100 pounds in a month! So, we scheduled their appointment for slaughter for Monday, July 18, the earliest date we could get. So in total, the pigs lived for 6 months, 4 months with us. They went to a USDA certified processor in Cynthiana, C&W Meat Packers
Here you can see how we lured them into the trailer cage… we backed it into the corner of the pen, pinched the gates closed around the trailer, and poured cracked corn onto the floor. They went up the ramp and in! It was surprisingly easy in… except for the one pig that got out momentarily and went for a joy run around the farm until our fantastic coon hound chased him back to us. That was exciting.
….And just like that on Friday, July 22, we have about 300 pounds of meat in the freezer! Cuts include: Hot Sausage, Regular Sausage, Pork Chops, Jawl, Heart, Liver, Ribs, Country Style Ribs, Ham Steak, Pork Loin, Shoulder Roast and Pork Side (Bacon)
By the conclusion of 2017, we had butchered 5 pigs with 2 more nearly ready, and had also chosen a pair to breed: Sir Loin and Mia Ham. We have raised both since 6 weeks of age and we are hoping to have piglets in the spring of 2018. Sir Loin is a mix of Chester White and Landrace, and Mia Ham is mostly Duroc with some Chester White as well. Both are looking strong and healthy! Here they are as babies:
Here is Sir Loin in the summer, having shed his winter coat and weighing in around 300-350 lbs.