There are so many things we consider when growing our own meat. The top two factors are; can we give the animal the best life possible on this farm e.g., pasture, shelter, space, and will we use the whole animal e.g., the cuts of meat, the hide.
We slaughtered our first pair of pigs when they were about 12 months old. We used the whole animal for bacon, roasts, salami, brawn, ham, and prosciutto. It was only a couple of months ago when the prosciutto was ready, and a complete success, our bacon finally worked, and I went to an incredible Salami workshop, that I started thinking about increasing the amount of pork we grow.
Pigs are extremely destructive to the land. They can turn over a small area of paddock within a few days and leave it looking like a mud pit. So we have set up a large paddock into four individual yards. Once they have exhausted one yard, I move them to the next and give the 'mud pit' time to recover. I can then plant out the recovering yard with potatoes, parsnips, grasses, brassicas, anything in season that the pigs can dig up and eat.
Food is a massive factor when having pigs. They eat most of our food scraps, scraps from the garden, but a substantial part of their diet is grain. The grain is something I am buying in and we go through a lot! But you know what, I don't mind because I know exactly where my meat is coming from. I know that that animal has had the best possible life and death. I know that that animal has eaten wholesome, nutritional food. It reminds me of that saying, "you get what you pay for". When pork is being sold at $7.00 a kilo. It makes me wonder...
Anyway, to increase our pork supply I decided to borrow a boar for our two gilts.
Then there were three...
We have only had one experience with a boar and Ben nearly lost an arm. That's another story.
I asked around my farming friends and a lovely family not too far away were more than happy to lend us their boar. He is not at all what we had experienced. He is so sweet and gentle. A true gentleman. The girls were a little thrown at first but they are coming around...
A pigs cycle is every three weeks. So the boar will stay for a couple of months before returning home. The gestation period for a pig is three months, three weeks, and three days.
Spring piglets! Hopefully.
Keep you posted.