Keeping Berkshire Pigs

Grow some food and stuff!

Moderator: matt walker

Keeping Berkshire Pigs

Postby George Collins » Thu Sep 06, 2012 2:52 am

Today, I ordered two registered Berkshire gilts from Mitchell Family Farms in Rayville, Louisiana. I found them via a web search, called em up and scored a brace. The boar will come from the same farm but from a seperate bloodline and will be about four months behind his future harem in age.

The transaction will likely take place on or about September 23rd.

I had been meaning to start researching which breed of hogs would be most compatable with the current vision but prior to doing so in earnest, stumbled across this:
It’s All About Taste
What do the Japanese consumers already know about Berkshire quality that American consumers are just rediscovering? In a word, taste. Berkshires marble well so the meat is naturally juicy and flavorful with exceptional texture.

In fact, according to Telford, in tests for sensory qualities (or eating characteristics) performed by the National Pork Producers Association, Berkshires are the hands-down winners, coming in first overall and ranking above all the other breeds in 19 of the 24 tests NPPA performs in its assessment.


Which can be found as part of this article: http://www.hobbyfarms.com/livestock-and-pets/berkshire-pigs-27314.aspx

'Twas that part about "marbling" that drew me in. Marbled pork is an exceptionally fine and relatively rare quality that helps to bring out the nuances of the pigs diet. Since these hogs will have much (and one day hopefully all) of their diet originating from tree crops, the marbled texture of the meat should really set the taste apart. Think Jamon Mississippi de Bellota [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamón_ibérico[/url]

Here is a picture posted at Mitchell Family Farms website that vividly shows the differences in Berkshire pork from commercial pork (Berkshire pork at top)Image

The kids and I are all very excited to finally put mitts on some pigs that it's ok to get attached to. I just hope that they turn out to be "go-down hogs."

For any that mightn't know, a go-down hog is one that when receiving an exceptionally good scratching will lay down and grunt contendedly while said scratching is on-going. One of life's purest pleasures is putting a good scratching on a good go-down hog. That's right up there with feeding them half rotted tomatoes or left-over watermelon.

And then there's the baby pigs that get into the garden and have to be chased and can scatter like quail through the weeds when caught trespassing and subsequently flushed.

I can't wait. I think their names will be Paris Hilton and Madonna.

An example of a Go-Down Hog in action:Image
"Solve world hunger, tell no one." "The, the, the . . . The Grinch!"

"If you can't beat them, bite them."
George Collins
 
Posts: 535
Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:57 pm
Location: South Central Mississippi, Zone 8a

Re: Keeping Berkshire Pigs

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Thu Sep 06, 2012 10:24 am

I do not know much about raising pigs, or about the difference in breeds of hogs George. So when you said that you had picked Berkshires I looked it up on the net. It said that in 2008 there were as few as 300 sows in the world. WOW, you have a real piece of History there. The breed is thought to be the 1st hogs raised in England. It did talk about Japan and how they prize the meat. I know they massage their Beef to get that marbeling effect in the meat. I will be interested in hearing how you and the family like the meat, as well as how the flavor is different from the pork we all know from the store. What is your plan here George? Do you plan on selling any Breeders, or is this program more just about supper for the family?
Never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.
User avatar
pa_friendly_guy
 
Posts: 1502
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:24 pm
Location: SW Pa They changed me to zone 6a what ever that is. I still figure zone 5

Re: Keeping Berkshire Pigs

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Thu Sep 06, 2012 10:53 am

I just read the article link you posted from Hobby Farms, I can see why you picked Berkshires. They make a very good case for raising them compared to what is commercially raised in pork factories. The Large pork operations have very different requirement from a small farm operation. I had never heard about the difference between Lard pigs and meat pigs. What most people do not know or understand in this colestoral worried world is that fat tastes GOOD. The extra fat in the Berkshire hog is the reason for its outstanding taste. Thanks for sharing your research on this George.
Never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.
User avatar
pa_friendly_guy
 
Posts: 1502
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:24 pm
Location: SW Pa They changed me to zone 6a what ever that is. I still figure zone 5

Re: Keeping Berkshire Pigs

Postby George Collins » Thu Sep 06, 2012 5:36 pm

Guy,

Combined, the two sows should produce ~ 16 - 20 pigs when they have each farrowed their first time. I will probably reserve two for personal consumption and rear them on tree crops to the greatest extent possible. Any that can be sold as breeding stock to others will be selected first to pass on the best genetics possible. The excess are intended to be marketed as meat hogs which I fatten or to others as feeder pigs to fatten as they see fit. The business model will be almost exactly that of Mitchell Family Farms but for how the hogs are fed. I believe he raises his almost exclusively on store-bought feed.
"Solve world hunger, tell no one." "The, the, the . . . The Grinch!"

"If you can't beat them, bite them."
George Collins
 
Posts: 535
Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:57 pm
Location: South Central Mississippi, Zone 8a

Re: Keeping Berkshire Pigs

Postby matt walker » Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:17 am

Great news George, I'm glad to hear you found your breeding hogs. My friend started his breeding program just a few months ago with two Tamworth sows and a gilt. He's already at the 20 something piglet stage, and it's a lot of fun to have 'em around. Except, as you noted, for the inevitable garden raids and such, but still, they are great fun. Both sows and the gilt are "go-down" hogs. Great term! I can't wait for the pics of the piglets! Congratulations George. This is a big step.
User avatar
matt walker
Site Admin
 
Posts: 1805
Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2012 5:50 pm
Location: North Olympic Peninsula

Re: Keeping Berkshire Pigs

Postby Lollykoko » Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:46 pm

Before I go read the article ... Did you know that eating animal fat got a bad name because that is the repository for all the chemicals in the animal diet? If you are not using fertilizers and pesticides, or buying much commercial feed, there would be little to be concerned with. I'm suddenly remembering the pork chops I ate when I was a kid 50 years or more ago. That 1/4 inch of cooked fat on the edge of the chop was so good, I saved it for last.
User avatar
Lollykoko
 
Posts: 575
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:04 pm
Location: Howard and Miami Counties, Indiana

Re: Keeping Berkshire Pigs

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Sat Sep 08, 2012 3:22 pm

I did not know that Lolly, I thought the reason that they talk against animal fat is because of Heart problems caused by clogged arteries. At least that is why they tell me not to eat as much fat and ice cream, and cake and anything else that tastes good, :lol:
Never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.
User avatar
pa_friendly_guy
 
Posts: 1502
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:24 pm
Location: SW Pa They changed me to zone 6a what ever that is. I still figure zone 5

Re: Keeping Berkshire Pigs

Postby GrahamB » Sun Sep 09, 2012 1:35 am

I think we have all got so swept up in the food industry propaganda that we will believe anything the so called experts tell us. Take my grandad as an example. He fought in the first world war, survived the Manchester blitz in the second. Worked as a dye maker all his life, using cyanide, arsenic and a bunch of stuff we wouldn't go near these days without a hazmat suit. Rode a motorcycle all his life without a crash helmet, smoked a pipe and enjoyed a beer or a tot of whiskey. According to today's reckoning he shouldn't have lived past fifty. He died peacefully in his sleep at the age of eighty six. But what he did do was grow his own fruit and vegetables, had a pig sty at the bottom of the garden where he kept a couple of pigs and hunted rabbit eight months a year. In other words he ate whole foods that never saw chemical sprays or fertilizers. He drank full fat milk that wasn't homogenized, as well as the cheese.
The pigs he had looked a lot like yours George, but I can't state for sure that they were Berkshires. I know my dad and my uncle had Gloucester Old Spots as well as a flock of psycho geese to protect the pigs from anyone that dared to go through the gate.
No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.
User avatar
GrahamB
 
Posts: 234
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:48 am
Location: SW Missouri

Re: Keeping Berkshire Pigs

Postby George Collins » Wed Sep 12, 2012 2:39 am

Graham, this will be Toy Ridge Farms' (that's the name under which we will ultimately market the meat), first experience with Berkshires. Maybe they are a wimpy breed and need guard-geese for protection. If so, we're in luck because Younfblood keeps several geese on hand for use as a natural defoliant.

Having said that though, if these hogs need guard-geese, they will be the first hogs I have any experience with that needs such. In the past, you would MUCH rather go into a pasture with a pissed-off brahma bull than into a pasture containing a 700 pound boar hog.

I remember once when on a naval ship being transported to the Persian Gulf to participate in Desert Storm, on of my naive fellow Marines stated something along the lines of, "Pit bulls are the baddest animals on earth."

Several of us country boys overheard him and fell out of our boots laughing. Guys that hunt wild hogs with whole packs of pit bulls, who dress those pit bulls in armored jackets, reportedly get more than two hunting seasons out of an individual dog but rarely. After a couple seasons, they are so ripped up and broken up that they become useless.

Iffn a hog had a personalized license plate it would read 1TUFASS.

Iffn a hog had a bumper sticker it'd read, "Mike Tyson? He tasted a'ight."

My grandfather told Youngblood and Youngblood told me, "Three things on a farm you best keep sceered o'ya: yore stud hoss, yore bull and yore bo-hog. And mungst em, it best be the bo-hog if it's airy of'em."

The reason being, the bull or the stud horse are only looking to whip you. The hog is looking to eat you. You might can live through a butt whuppin. Ya can't live through being eaten.

Perhaps the single best deterrent to theft of farm equipment is to put such in a pasture that contains several sows with pigs and/or a boar. If you always drive your truck into the pasture to feed him, he will associate the sound of a truck entering the pasture as "Dinner Time!" and come a-running. Now imagine if a would-be thief drove into your pasture, jumped out to hook up to your trailer and found himself looking down the gaping maw of a thousand pounds of tusk wielding, hungry boar hog and here said thief is without a bucket of corn.

I'm not sure a goose would add much to that equation.
"Solve world hunger, tell no one." "The, the, the . . . The Grinch!"

"If you can't beat them, bite them."
George Collins
 
Posts: 535
Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:57 pm
Location: South Central Mississippi, Zone 8a

Re: Keeping Berkshire Pigs

Postby GrahamB » Thu Sep 13, 2012 2:48 am

I don't think dad intended them to guard the pigs. They just took the job on themselves. Uncle went in to feed the pigs one day and the gander had got out of the wrong side of the nest that morning. He came at Uncle Les and before he could jump out of the way, the gander jumped him and broke Les' arm.
There was another pig field across from where we lived and it had a chicken coop in the center. These were saddle backs. We kids would dare each other to run to the chicken coop, grab an egg and then make it back to the gate before the boar got us. I was feeling cocky one day and decided to go for half a dozen eggs. I made it to the coop and had to get inside to get the eggs. When I turned around to leave, guess who was standing outside waiting for me. My buddies left me there for a while before they decided to help by drawing the boar away. I think I still hold the record for the most eggs though.
No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.
User avatar
GrahamB
 
Posts: 234
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:48 am
Location: SW Missouri

Next

Return to Garden, Pasture, Forest

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 1 guest