We raise English Large Black Pigs because they eat grass without rooting up our pasture too much. We feed them whey and just enough of our grain to prevent them from rooting. They will definitely root if they are short on grain. The most important part of this breed is how docile they are. Our kids can scratch the sows and even the boar at any time.
Their meat is the best we have ever eaten. We did not eat store bought pork for 20 years, for obvious reasons. We mix up a ration similar to our chickens and feed them from a moveable feeder out on pasture. In the winter, this allows us to get them out of the barnyard, and out in the sun to eat. We are able to move the feeder to new pasture that helps prevent mud from accumulating around the feeder and barnyard.
At around 250 lbs they are taken to our local butcher for dressing. We are able to make pepperettes, sausages, hams, and bacon. We always have some in stock at our store for pick up. Our sausages and mostly-meat bacon were a huge hit at the market this year. There is a $20 fee per order for gluten-free sausages (the cost of the testing).
A confession must be made. A good friend had a pink pig he raised the same way we raise ours and was looking for a good home for her. I was very impressed by this gilt’s shape. The muscles and in particular the hams were beautiful. Unfortunately she would not get along with our herd. I had hoped to cross breed one litter and see how they turned out. There are some real genetic benefits to cross breeding. Things got worse when the new pig could not stay with the herd and insisted in living outside the fence. She began ripping up our yard and garden. It normally takes 5 minutes to load our pigs into our trailer, this pig took 4 weeks. Safe to say it made a mess. We finally got her loaded and without hesitation, delivered her to the butcher for her “one bad day”.
The next week we got the meat back. It was down right awful. We questioned the butcher and he said it looked great. What we didn’t realize is that, we had “store bought pork”. The colour was white, fat was tasteless, and it was dry. We had raised what we were running from. The pork industry had bred all the “good” out of pork. Remember the whole “the other white meat” marketing. Our pork is red like beef, and has fat with a taste like no other. What were we thinking in attempting to cross breed this garbage with our heritage breed. Sometimes, as humans, we just don’t think.
When buying meat ask the person selling it to you:
1) Did the meat come from a “downer”.
2) What breed and gender was the animal.
If you get a dull stare from the teenage kid standing at the meet counter, ask yourself, “What am I doing here?”
Boy life throws you some lessons when you least expect it.