This article is about growing piglets, slaughtering, and butchering hogs. It covers everything we did from start to finish concerning piglets to bacon!
Why a Retired Grandmother Raises Small Livestock
But first, it is important to understand why in the world a retired grandmother would want to raise small livestock. While this article is not about the bad stuff in commercial pork products, I want to list the reasons why I make the effort to raise my own small livestock.
Just for starters, “…synthetic preservatives are added to 70 percent of all factory farmed meat and poultry to prevent spoilage, rancidity and mold growth.” Source: http://www.wakingtimes.com
“Ractopamine is used in the pork industry. It puts on more muscle, instead of fat, and also puts on weight. Ractopamine is a livestock growth altering drug so dangerous that 160 countries around the world have banned its use. A container of ractopamine has a warning label says, “Individuals with cardiovascular disease should exercise special caution to avoid exposure. Not for use in humans. Keep out of the reach of children,” and recommends protective clothing, gloves, eye wear and masks.” Source: http://www.wakingtimes.com
Nitrites are used in pork, beef, and poultry products to enhance color, which makes older meat look fresh and stay marketable. ”The study of more than 190,000 people found that those with the highest intake of processed meats were at a 68 percent increased risk of pancreatic cancer compared to those with ate the least amount of processed meats.” Source: http://preventdisease.com
Antibiotics prevent animal disease outbreaks in cramped conditions. “USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) finds dangerous antibiotic levels in animals including penicillin, neomycin and “sulfa” and “cipro” drugs, many from “repeat violators.” Source: http://www.wakingtimes.com
“Most meat eaters may be unaware that more than 70% of all beef and chicken in the United States, Canada and other countries is being treated with poisonous carbon monoxide gas. It can make seriously decayed meat look fresh for months.” Source: http://preventdisease.com
Produced as Activa in Japan, its scientific name is “transglutaminase. It can be used for sticking together different pieces of meat. I would rather have a solid piece of meat from one animal than several pieces from multiple animals “glued” together. Source: http://www.wakingtimes.com
Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria
“Almost half of beef, chicken, pork and turkey in samples tested from US grocery stores contained staph bacteria reported the Los Angeles Times in 2011, including the resistant MRSA staph bacterium.” Source: http://newsgroups.derkeiler.com/Archive/Alt/alt.support.diabetes/2011-04/msg00751.html. “Pork tested by Consumer Reports in 2013 also contained MRSA and four other kinds of resistant bacteria.” Source: https://www.consumerreports.org
My Story of Piglets
So I’ll move on to the story of piglets to bacon. I am a widow of retirement age. I have a couple of medical issues that slow me down, and only one of my kids is interested in helping me on this journey. All I have is a will of steel, the desire to become more self-reliant, and a lot of books to read. I had never lived on a farm, never raised animals, and for sure never ate any animal I raised, killed, and butchered. When I began my farmstead experience several years back, I wasn’t sure of what I would be able to do.
This is my story of how I began raising and harvesting small livestock. I began with chickens, ducks, and rabbits, but I’m skipping those stories because there are many good articles on the Internet about raising, butchering, and processing them. This article is about pigs!
Many Different Ways- You Can Do It Too
There are as many different ways to do this as there are people reading this. I made mistakes and other people will have their methods, which they have learned from their experience. My goal was to successfully raise healthy animals and harvest them myself, because that may be the only safe way to eat now and in the future. The big payoff is having 500 pounds of pork stored away! However, what I am most satisfied with is, I did it! If this retired grandmother can do it, so can you!
The Pig Pen
We made the decision to raise two “feeder pigs,” as I think animals do better in pairs. I can’t prove this, but I feel when animals are content they are less stressed and their meat is better. But first we had to prepare the pig area. There was an old goat enclosure not too far from the barn that would be easy to convert for pigs. This was a nice area with pine trees, lots of pine needles, and weeds. We cleaned up the area, getting rid of old barbed wire and miscellaneous trash. After measuring for how much fencing we would need, we collected some concrete blocks, wood pallets, an old truck topper, and other useful items abandoned on the property. I waited for a sale and then got gates, farm fencing, T-posts, and hot wire materials.
Although I have plenty of acreage, I decided to keep the pigs within an acre pen. Why? Go visit a farmer who free ranges his hogs and you will see total destruction of the land. Free range hogs are not only killed by predators, but they also clear the land of all vegetation, destroy water ponds or streams, and will take down small trees and bushes. It is not a pretty sight.
Fencing, Shelter, and Securing Them
My son did the hard labor of putting up fencing and hot wires. He also built a shelter for the piglets, even though our winters are mild and the area is well shaded for the summer.
Pigs are really smart, and they can find a way out of almost any enclosure, but they don’t like pain. Thus, we encircled the fencing with a bottom hot wire 12 inches from the ground on the inside of the farm fencing. We used an electric power hot wire, because the area is too shady for solar power.
We had no running water to the area, so I got two used 300-gallon food grade totes to use for water storage. The totes fed the water to the troughs and mud-holes. I bought two hundred feet of heavy duty farm hoses to run from the closest water spigot down to the totes. On average, we filled them every 10 days, but during the hottest times it was every week.
I found a local source for the piglets and went piggy shopping. This fellow let his hogs free range on 20 acres of land, and the hogs destroyed all 20 acres. I was shocked to see what 30 full grown hogs could do to land. With this, I was glad I kept my enclosure about an acre. He kept his sows and piglets in an enclosure away from the boars.
I asked the farmer and my son to go catch two female piglets. It was a hearty laugh watching two grown men trying to catch these 10-week old squealing piglets! I wanted females because I had read that male hogs should be butchered at a specific time or their meat can get smelly or tainted because of their hormones. I don’t know that this is absolutely true, but I just didn’t want the stress of having to work on a time line. Plus, experience with other animals has taught me that females are easier to harvest.
We put the piglets in a cage in the back of the truck and brought them back to our farmstead and their new enclosure. It took them several days to calm down, but after that they were happy piggies! They tested the hot wire a couple of times and went squealing back to their shelter. After that, they stayed clear of the hot wire.
Their Food Bowl
We used an old double sink we found in our bone yard as their food bowl. We sealed up the drain holes and screwed the sink to a big piece of trash wood so it wouldn’t sink in the mud and they could not easily drag it around. That way when we went to feed them, if it was really wet and muddy, we could just pour their food mix into the sink from outside the fence.
The girls loved my son who was their primary care giver. It’s probably because he gave them treats, scratched their ears, rubbed their bellies, and sprayed them with fly and tick preventative.
Tomorrow, I will continue, beginning with growing the piglets and then moving into slaughtering and butchering.
- 2 – From Piglets to Bacon- Part 2, by Animal House
- 3 – From Piglets to Bacon- Part 3, by Animal House
- 4 – From Piglets to Bacon- Part 4, by Animal House
- 5 – From Piglets to Bacon- Part 5, by Animal Hous
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been part one of a five part entry for Round 75 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 75 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.