Thursday, March 19, 2009

Adding Berkshire Pigs

Rich Heritage Farm is expanding into the pasture raised hog business. Berkshire is the breed choice after considering all the heritage breeds. They are not on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy list as endangered, but they are a true heritage hog, which will work within the intended scope of our goals.
Growing up through my teenage years, commercial farming was our family’s business. We had a 100 cow, cow/calf, herd, a 50 sow feeder pig operation and we row cropped 1200 acres. While I was in the military, the entire operation was dismantled due to economy, and health issues.
My mother and aunt still maintain several acres of land they rent out to a local farmer, but the farm implements, cows and hogs are long gone.
You would think with the farming/animal husbandry experience I obtained growing up it would put me on the fast track to homesteading life. However, I’m about as lost as a ball in tall grass most of the time.
Homesteading principles and even the very livestock are so different from the intense management we used. I have no idea how to manage a two sow grass fed hog endeavor. The hogs we used wouldn’t make it a week in the sunshine; the sows would smash or eat all of their piglets if they weren’t in faring crates. Waste management and all the vaccinations to prevent confinement caused diseases were a constant concern. In other words we didn't make our production fit the pigs, we made the pigs fit our production system.
I have had pretty good luck with our goats, chickens, ducks and quail, although I’ve never had any experience before with them. Absolutely no management ideas, what so ever, so I didn’t have to worry about the way we used to do it. It’s removing all the past practices burned into my brain that will be the challange. I just have to remember, "I don’t want to feed the world!" I only want to be able to feed my family.
I’ve located a Berkshire breeder, who will have feeder pigs ready in a couple of months.
I’m looking forward to starting our little grass fed operation. I’m sure it will be an adventure. Hopefully, we will be able to put pork in our freezer and sell enough feeder pigs locally to pay for the upkeep of sows.

1 comment:

TheMartianChick said...

Congratulations for expanding into another new farming venture, Brad! I have to draw the line at the pigs, though... I will not bring pigs to the city, no matter how cute the piglets are.

You are truly on a roll with your progress. I know that you must feel good about all of the accomplishments that you've had to date. You are definitely NOT a procrastinator and you are making some positive steps toward self-sufficiency for your family.