Friday, October 8, 2010

Raising Pigs

I have just made the plunge into something I have been considering for awhile now. Yesterday, I bought three pigs: a young boar and two gilts.
Many farmers and homesteaders buy feeder pigs in the spring and raise them to a market weight of 225-250 pounds, after which they sell them and maybe butcher one or more for their own use. What I plan to do instead is keep some breeder stock and raise their offspring to market weight. For my purposes, this seems to be a better way to go. I am hoping to not only produce food for myself and family, but also add another source of income. Time will tell how it works out.
I read an article a few years ago, I think it was in Countryside Magazine, that said swine raising is one of the few areas where the family farmer has an edge over the big producers, in terms of profitability. The reason is that, since pigs are omnivorous, the farmer who only has a few hogs can feed them scrounged food that was going to be thrown away; stuff like wilted produce and out of date bread. Big producers can't do that because of the sheer volume of feed their stock requires.
Of course, I'm not going to feed them entirely with that sort of food. My hogs will be pastured and allowed to forage, and I plan to raise some crops that are easy to grow and make good pig feed, like turnips (which I already grow anyway).
My intention is to have a sustainable herd and to produce the best pork I can, while minimizing feed expenditures. 

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