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  1. Looking very forward to the rest of this series! We are also new to raising hogs (albeit on a larger scale – farrow to finish with 8 sows, 2 boars and 50-60 growers at any given time). We started about a year and half ago with the same reasons as the writer of this article, but it quickly evolved and it is meant as a business for us. We had no farming background either! One comment on pigs destroying land – yes they are certainly capable of that if not managed properly – we have used groups to clear underbrush and to till up areas to be used as future garden spaces and they excel at this if properly confined…However, if managed properly (moved frequently and allowing land to rest adequately), they can remarkably improve both pasture and woodlots. Certain breeds are better than others for a pasture/woodlot based system (i.e. most heritage breeds – we raise primarily Large Blacks and Kune Kunes), but it is certainly feasible if you have the land, fencing and time to properly manage the herd. Congratulations on your endeavour – they are remarkable animals that are a huge asset to any homestead/farm/retreat.

  2. Thanks for the info on the Ractopamine. I’d never heard of it. As an old guy who takes a beta blocker heart medication I don’t think I want to take something that is a beta agonist which essentially cancels out the beta blocker!

  3. Fun article. We raise two hogs every two years. Works for us. We will not buy store meat. Pigs are fun to raise. We raise much of their food. I may be a little goofy but I find it entertaining to sit in a chair and just watch them. My wife has caught my laying on the ground in front of the slop trough watching them eat, fun stuff! I name them all the same, “pig” and “pig”. They come running when they hear my call “pig,pig,pig,pig”. A fascinating animal!

  4. Great article and discussion. My homesteading neighbor and I have been raising pigs for years and for all of the reasons the author mentions.

    Typically, we buy three piglets from a local farmer in the spring for ~$65- each. We don’t seem to care if they are male or female as long as the males have been castrated before purchasing. One pig is for the homesteader family, one for my family and one the homesteader raises to sell which pays for most of his expenses, e.g. butchering, food, etc.

    In August we guest-o-mate the weight of the pigs. Once that is done we make an appointment for butchering at a slaughter house we like which takes place typically in the middle of fall. The goal is to have pigs that dress out to ~200 pounds.

    Over the years we have learned to process the fat into lard, smoked our own bacon to stay away from state mandated nitrates, and made our own scrapple.

    I am looking forward to the authors slaughtering experiences. Great Job!

  5. Hmmm, I grew up on a farm ( with pigs and milk cows ) in the 50’s and 60’s until I went work in a packing plant ( 40 plus yrs ), I have worked from unloading the live hogs to the other end (of the plant) loading the finished product on trucks to be shipped out. I’ve seen what goes into the raw product to make it last longer on the shelf, I’ve seen all the different types of ingredients added to make it look better, to longer shelf life, to making it taste better. Some are good for you but some are poisonous ( to kill the bacteria ).Like one quality control guy said ” you won’t find very many of these ingredients on your local health food store shelves.” I was told more than once not to ask stupid questions or I would be in trouble. And it isn’t any different with a lot of these new weed sprays that the farmers are using.

  6. Many of the reasons listed are similar to why we raise all our own pork, beef, chicken, milk, and eggs. Basically, I don’t trust the “system” to have the best interests of my health as their primary concern.

  7. Is the meat at your supermarket “harmful” to you? Is there any residual carbon monoxide or harmful feed supplements retained in it? Will it kill you or make you sick? I am on my way to the supermarket and I will scan the parking lot for bodies of those who died eating store bought pork chops. But there doesn’t seem to be any evidence except in those strange/odd sites (like Mercolas) where they share and invent new malicious superstitions.

    1. One Guy, you’re right, grocery store meat won’t kill most people; I ate it for years and only got food poisoning once. But if you have an immune weakness or medical issues you have to be more careful than the average healthy person.

      1. If you have health issues, especially those which require a particular diet, then follow that diet; follow your doctors advice. But this does not conflate with prescriptive unscientific suggestions that commercial foods in our supermarkets are killing us or making us sick. Also I don’t have a problem with home grown food including livestock. If I had a few acres I would love to raise pigs and chickens. And I don’t have any problem with saying it tastes better or is fresher etc. I agree with that. But it is just wrong to claim that our commercial food is “bad” without any proof and simply based on rumors and superstition. We have the best food supply in history and almost all of the food related health problems are the result of shoddy preparation and handling of the food and not the food itself.

    1. Jeff, smaller scale will absolutely work with two pigs. And you don’t need woods really. They just need space to move around and exercise. While young, my pigs ran around and chased each other but as they got older they just walked around. They are so much fun to watch, they kept us laughing.

    2. Hi Jeff from Colorado. We live in Colorado, too, at 9000 ft. Our little homestead on a mountain top with very little level ground seems to suit our pigs well. We have 6 right now (two weanlings we want to sell, but will eat if they don’t) on less than a quarter acre. They seem to prefer to loaf in their stalls. With grass hay or alfalfa as their main diet (otherwise they would be eating pasture), they thrive in such a small area. They do like to sun themselves in the winter, and our pines keep them cool in the summer (what little summer there is up here). See my comment farther down in the comments section for more information. As much as I dragged my feet in getting pigs, I have grown to love them a lot. They’re the one thing the kids from church all want to see when they come to visit.

  8. I’m not paranoid about additives, but from my limited experience with pastured local pork (one pig) the taste is head and shoulders better. The bacon in particular was so good it was almost a different product, an otherworldly experience. Worth paying 2 to 3 times the price of supermarket meat.

  9. I hope you will cover the fact that pigs have been genetically altered and almost no modern pigs are lard pigs anymore. That’s extremely frustrating since fat is essential to being able to digest protein, and yet our modern “scientists” have decided they know better than God what needs to be in that animal.

  10. Ahhh, pigs be happy. Seems like I read that statement on this very blog 😉

    We, too, are retired, old enough to be great-grandparents, and live at 9000’. My husband really, really wanted to raise pigs as part of our becoming self-sufficient, but a 700 lb boar was a bit intimidating, and I dragged my feet on that. We did raise Yorkshire and Duroc weanlings, but found their meat dry, even when slow cooked. (If anyone can tell me what we did wrong, I’d love to hear about it.) As bad as store bought pork is for you, at least it is moist and tender.

    We came across a small American Heritage breed, the American Guinea Hog, which is much smaller. Our 7 year old boar weighs only 300 lbs or so. He’s so gentle (as is the characteristic of this breed) that children can go in and ride him, pet him, pull on his ears and in general love on him. The sows are smaller and it takes about a year to get to a decent slaughter weight of 120 lbs. What this means is, in TEOTWAWKI, you don’t have to store huge amounts of meat. Just go out and slaughter the size you need at the time you need it. Not only do they provide us with sweet, tender meat, but they are considered a lard pig unlike the modern domesticated breeds.

    Another great attribute of these fine little pigs is they are grazers, not rooters. Sure, they root some, but we give them grass hay (or when alfalpha is cheaper, we give that to them instead). We also feed them all our food scraps (not pork!) and any chickens we cull. We joke about how do you turn a chicken into pork? We have very little waste and come summer with the garden scraps, they are in Hog Heaven. We don’t need to feed the commercial grain to them. It’s addictive and not good with all the corn and sweetners in it. Also, they are extremely cold hearty, with long,thick, bristly hair.

    We have our 6 animals (and their babies) on about 1/4 acre. We do intend to fence more space for them, but they seem content to pretty much live in the Taj-M-Hog. If it’s crowded, they just pile on top of each other.

    You can go to http://guineahogs.org for more information.

    Thank you for taking the time to write about your experiences.

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