All About Our Pigs
January 3, 2021
Continuing with our All About blog series our next topic is...Pastured Pork. Although Pastured Pork is a relatively new enterprise for us (2018), pigs being raised at on our farm is NOT new. My Papaw, as well as my Dad, have raised pigs on this farm in pastures and wooded areas for a very long time. Pigs are hands down my favorite animal we have on the farm...when they stay in their designated pens!
In 2018, I finally convinced Abby that we needed to pasture raise pigs. I researched the differences in heritage breed and commercial breeds of pigs and decided we were going to start raising a heritage breed name Red Wattles. Heritage breeds are similar to a heirloom tomatoes and have long established blood lines. Simply put, they just taste better when raised properly. We bought our first Red Wattles from a family in LaRue County and brought them home to what I thought was a well enforced paddock. I QUICKLY learned that there really isn't such thing as a well enforced paddock for pigs when as soon as the Red Wattles feet hit the ground and they bolted to the creek. That was such a fun afternoon of encouraging (chasing) brand new pigs back to an unfamiliar place. Sense then I have learned a few pointers, but I do have to frequently get the pigs in! In true farm life living fashion, the other day Abby was leading a Google Meet session with her students from home when she had to pause and yell out on the back deck for the pigs to go home!
This past summer our pigs were rotated similarly to our chickens to new pasture land every few days. I purchased specialized pig netting that is about 18 inches off the ground that can be easily moved from paddock to paddock and established a rotation. Although it takes a lot of work pulling up fence netting, moving it to a new location, moving feed and water troughs, and the pigs themselves, nothing is more satisfying that seeing a happy pig run to a new grassy area!
However, pigs are unique in that they have a rototiller for a nose and can dramatically impact the land even when being moved frequently. So after a lot of research in the fall and winter months of 2020, I began the new pig project which is moving them to one of the wooded areas on the farm. By moving them into the woods it will allow them to root around with their rototiller noses without impacting our pasture lands. This paddock change will also allow our pigs to forage on "stuff" from the woods such as roots and nuts. Pork is a very impressionable meat, meaning whatever the pig eats can dramatically impact flavor and color of the meat. I hope that by allowing the pigs to forage on roots and nuts in the woods that it will enhance the flavor of the meat, as well the color of the fat from a white to a yellow color. Although this has been a labor and time intensive project, I feel like it will definitely be worth the trouble for the health of the animal and quality of their meat.
Even though pasture raising, or next year wood raising, our pigs takes more time and effort on our part, I believe the flavor and quality of meat is far better when our pigs are raised out on pasture. In the end, we believe in delivering the best quality, farm fresh product to our customers so they feel safe feeding their families! You can find our pasture raised pork products on our online store, at Lincoln Lodge in Hodgenville, seasonally at Lee's Garden Center in Hodgenville, and at the Hardin County Farmer's Market through S&B Bell Farms.