Our two main reasons for raising hogs are: 1. We want to produce our own meat and know exactly what those animals ate and how they were treated, and 2. We want to clear some land of invasive plant species, mostly Tree of Heaven (China Sumac) and Garlic Mustard weed. Hogs are terrific at tilling the land. It's as if God created a creature with a bulldozer built into the end of it's snout! Last year, we were a bit disappointed that our hogs didn't tear up the land as much as we had hoped. We couldn't decide if it was the breed (modern hog breeds are raised indoors for commercial pork production, where they physically cannot root, so the instinct is not as strong anymore) or if it was the drought that made the ground too hard for them to root. Last year we had Yorkshires and this year, we decided to try Hampshires, a Heritage breed not widely used in commercial pork production. Hampshires are one of the oldest American breeds and are well known for their foraging ability (the desire to find their own food), which makes them a great candidate for raising on pasture.
Checking out all the good stuff to eat. They especially love the walnuts from our Black Walnut trees.
The pigs we brought home are about 40 pounds and we will raise them until fall, when they reach about 250 pounds. The hogs will have about a quarter acre of pasture to explore and root around in. Hogs are omnivores, so they will eat nuts, roots, grass, worms, bugs, vegetables, meat, kitchen scraps and pretty much anything else you give them. In addition to what they find to eat in their pasture, we also offer them feed. We were thrilled to finally track down a mill that sells Non-GMO hog feed (Tom's Feed Mill in Coopersville, MI - they don't have a website). In the future, we hope to be able to raise our hogs on an Organic feed, but at this time, the cost is prohibitive (Organic feed costs over twice as much as conventional). Non-GMO feed is not perfect, as the crops are still sprayed with herbicides and pesticides like conventional feed, but we feel it's a step in the right direction... and we're trying to not beat ourselves up and let "Perfect Be the Enemy of Good". We're doing the best we can with the resources we have right now.
A sign of a happy hog is a dirt covered snout!
Doing what they do best - rooting in the dirt, looking for grubs, worms, nuts and roots with their bulldozer-like snouts.
So come on over and check out our adorable hogs. They are sure to amuse you with their playful antics and joyful pig noises. See you soon!