I figured it was time for a little update on our pigs.  

The girls are in their 3rd paddock rotation at this point.  They have not shared this one, so they’ve done the majority of clean up by themselves, and it is quite impressive, if I do say so.  Here is a photo of the land.  When we first put them in, the brush went up to about 3 feet from the fence, and even then, the space right beside the fence was covered in poison ivy, weeds, and vines.  Since this is a major traffic area for the girls, as they run alongside each person walking or driving down the street, hoping for a hand-out (they never get one, they just always hope!), they have really cleared the brush back away from the fence.  

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Yesterday, I decided to get an estimate on their weights.  I used a method I learned from Walter Jeffries over at Sugar Mountain Farm.   To summarize, you measure from the crown of the head, right between the ears, straight down the spine to the tail head, right where the tail attaches to the body.  That gives you the length measurement (L).  Then, you measure the girth, wrapping a string or tape all the way around the rib cage, right behind the front legs.  That gives you a girth measurement (G).

Then, you multiply:  L x G x G and divide by 400.  

I have no idea where the 400 comes from.  In any case, though, I came up with a weight of 117 and 128 lbs, roughly.  Supposedly, this method is accurate on roaster and finisher pigs to within a few pounds.  

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So, based on my research, compared to commercial hybrid hogs on commercial feed, mine are about 2/3 to 1/2 the weight they should be (depending on the source).  Compared to pure-bred, pasture-raised hogs not on commercial feed, however, they seem to be right on par.   I contacted Walter at Sugar Mountain Farm directly, and he said their weight sounds perfectly normal, and he would expect them to almost double in the next 2-3 months.  He explained they really seem to pack on the pounds in the end.  

In any case, this has been a fun experiment.  The pigs have been the lowest-maintenance animal on the farm by far.  They have required absolutely NO clean up, and in fact, have cleaned up the land they were on just as we had hoped.  All we’ve really done is supplement them almost once a day with excess milk and organic kitchen scraps, and on occasion, organic rolled grains.  

The low financial inputs into raising them has taught us that it would be worthwhile to raise our own on just forage and excess milk, even with the risk of decreased gains by slaughter time.  It’s clear why the hog is popular as a good source of meat and income, even for the poorest in some nations.  They seem to thrive so easily.

Due to the fact that we are hoping to sell one of these girls, however, I would like to see a bit more gain.  Therefore, I am going to increase the milk they are receiving with milk I have been stockpiling in the freezer, as well as begin offering free-choice rolled grains and organic corn on a more regular basis.  It won’t be full time, but as close as I can get, as the organic, non-GMO versions can be hard to come by around here.   I use rolled grains instead of whole grains due to increased digestibility.  They will continue to have full access to their forage and woodland paddock until slaughter time.  In the event the weather turns bad first, they will get all the hay they can eat.  

So far, I have really enjoyed raising these girls.  Minimal inputs with seemingly good outputs if their gains continue well.  They are fun, and quite a different experience than other livestock I’ve dealt with.  I am really looking forward to those hams and bacons, though!

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Check out those hams! Still a ways to grow, but looking good so far!

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