"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Double Piglet!

We acquired two new piglets yesterday. Here they are: two handsome girls, a cross between a Large Black Hog boar and a Tamworth Sow. These girls are quite a bit bigger than the last piglet we raised was when we got him - they are eleven weeks old and have been weaned for several weeks now. The farmer said he likes to leave them get a bit bigger before they head off into the cruel world. It's nice for us, as well- a few weeks less feeding.

It's been quite a while since we had a pig. The last one one has been all eaten up for months, except for a couple of smoked hocks. We thought about getting one in the spring, but when I searched for some, they were all so expensive! The price of weaner pigs has gone up about 60% since our first pig, in 2008. We paid $75 for him (well, actually the first one was a trade - Holy Pork Chops, Batman! (the Backstory on Pigs)), and then the next year they were all $85 or $90. This year, I couldn't find any weaners for under $125.

We might still have sprung for one, except that I learned recently that one pig alone really suffers for companionship, even if housed with other hoofed animals. Pigs are extremely social animals, and a pig farmer my sister knows suggested that my pigs have been so obnoxious, loud, and bitey because they were lonely. Therefore I decided I wouldn't raise just one pig again - and we couldn't afford two. The economics of raising pigs is pretty marginal - you can't raise pork cheaper than you can buy it at the store, but the homegrown variety is so much better, on so many levels. Since we finished off our last pig, we just haven't been eating pork, since I can't bring myself to buy commercial pork and thereby contribute to a number of heinous evils (sorry! No lecture, I promise! Just - Hog CAFOS = environmental disaster + animal abuse + worker abuse and injustice).

Then, day before yesterday, I saw that a neighbor of mine, a guy I know and have traded with before, was selling off a litter of piglets at a discount, to pay off some bills and make room for new litters coming up soon. Instead of $125, he was letting them go at $80 apiece. I took the idea to Homero and he said to go for it. So, a quick repair of the pigpen and off we went! Our neighbor has a great set up, large roomy stalls and big outdoor exercise areas. The piglets were in one stall, and the grown breeding pigs in the next one - enormous animals, somewhere between six and seven hundred pounds. They looked pretty scary to me, but the farmer walked right in and scratched them and petted them.

I hope these little girls inherited the gentle temperament.


Laura said...

Actually, with 2, you can raise your pig and make money on the other one. Your pig farmer friend is right, but there's one other thing - they don't compete for food if there's only one, so they grow more slowly.

I sold pigs (bought 2 or 3, kept 1/2, sold the rest), and actually made $$. If you can hit the pastured pork market, or even "naturally raised" - you can sell them for $3.50/lb hanging weight, plus the buyer pays all slaughter fees.

The key is what to feed them. Unfortunately, that has gone up 20-30%, which is why pig prices have gone up. I fed whole wheat and rolled barley, mixed together in a trashcan, add 2 cups of sugar and fill with water. By the time you get to the bottom, they're very happy pigs!! They will grow well, but a little more slowly than with commercial hog grower, but it's lots cheaper that way...

The girls look like good hogs. I can't wait to see updates as they grow!

Olive said...

We have a fruit and veg shop near here (in OZ) that leaves out a huge bin of perfectly fresh off cuts(backs of cabbages,lettuces and cauliflowers etc.) for the taking, so our little piggy is fed on that, crushed barley, wheat and cooked potatoes and a little molasses. Sometimes she gets apples (we live in a major apple growing area) so it doesn't cost much at all to feed her.The potatoes we source from a market at $1.00 for 5kg. reject potatoes but perfect for piggy. My husband went to the market to purchase another piglet after he read your comments on my post but he missed out. They are sold by auction and he stopped bidding at $58.00 and the other guy took the lot, so now we have to wait for 3 weeks till the next lot comes in.
Aimee, I love the pictures of your little goat (previous post)

Aimee said...

Thanks for your comments, ladies! We usually feed our pigs a base diet of commercial gig grower well supplemented with scraps and slop from our household. Also right now I have plenty of whey from cheesemaking, so they can off to a good start on that. Soon there will be apple mast from cider pressing, and often I can pick up stale bread from a local bakery for practically nothing. Then, of course, pigs on pasture do a fair amount of supplementing their own diets... I've seen a pig dig up a mouse's den and eat all the mice.

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