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Need help choosing pigs: my choices are...

 
Craig Dobbelyu
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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So I've decided to raise up some pigs this year. It's a whole new world to me so I figured I'd ask you all for an opinion. I have a few choices as to the breeds. Mostly crosses but there are some full herefords that are appealing too. Let me know what you think of my options.

1st litter- Sow:York Landrace Cross// Boar: Hereford

2nd litter- Sow: half Large Black half Yorkshire/ /Boar: Gloucestershire Old Spots (GOS)

3rd litter- Sow: York/Landrace/Chester White/ /Boar: GOS

4th litter-Sow: half Large Black half Yorkshire/ /Boar: GOS

5th litter-Sow and Boar Hereford.

6th litter-Sow: York/Landrace cross// Boar: Hereford

7th litter-Sow: Duroc/York/Landrace// Boar: Hereford

I'm looking for quality over quantity in the meat and don't mind having a little extra fat. They'll primarily be eating on pasture and garden greens. If I'm lucky, acorns in the fall.

Let me know what you folks think of my options. Any pig buying advise would also be a help.
What would be a good price for a pair of weened females?
THANKS

 
Renate Howard
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Location: zone 6b
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There is a lot of variation within the breeds you've mentioned. Can you meet the pigs and see what they're like? I'd go for personality/temperament over breeding, and secondly just don't pick any runts. You don't want a pig you'll be afraid of.

I chose, for my family, to raise Asian Heritage Hogs for meat. AKA potbelly pigs. Yes, they're edible. Not as dangerous as many of the big ones, by temperament and by size. They won't eat our chickens or kid goats, but will eat anything the coyotes kill and leave behind. They do very well on pasture and can be raised in family groups because the boar actually protects the babies and is very tolerant of them. The small size means you can butcher them at home. The closest breed to compare them to is the Guinea Hog, the native to America, used to be on every farm in the hill country type that is now endangered. Those sell for $300 each, tho, and frankly they look just like the potbelly pigs, only they get a little larger.

People who sell pot belly pigs always lie about the weights, so you can buy a 120 lb pig for $35 with the owner saying it's only a 30lb pig. No other pigs sell for as little per pound! I never lie to people I buy them from about what I'm going to do with them. There are plenty available as breeders, tho, or pets who have worn out their welcome so much that the people don't care where they go as long as they're gone. Around here I've met plenty of people who eat them and say they're good. So far, we've traded our piglets away so we have yet to eat any we've raised.
 
c cagle
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I think I'd get two different kinds to see if you can tell the difference. And I'd go for personality as a top characteristic - when you only have two personality matters. Price is very much dependent on your local situation and how these weaners are being marketed. Where I live heritage organic field raised pigs sell for $100 - $120/each at 8-10 weeks of age. Have fun!
 
Walter Jeffries
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Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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Craig Dobbelyu wrote:
2nd litter- Sow: half Large Black half Yorkshire/ /Boar: Gloucestershire Old Spots (GOS)
4th litter-Sow: half Large Black half Yorkshire/ /Boar: GOS


These would be my first choices. The Duroc would be my last choice. Quite frankly, I would worry little about what breed and just get piglets, preferably from someone who raises them the way you want to raise yours. e.g., if you want to pasture then get pigs that come from pastured stock. Later after you have some experience you can think more about what breeds to get.

Craig Dobbelyu wrote:I'm looking for quality over quantity in the meat and don't mind having a little extra fat. They'll primarily be eating on pasture and garden greens. If I'm lucky, acorns in the fall.


What you feed them is the primary determination in how they will taste and how much fat they'll have. e.g., calories -> fat. Age of slaughter is also important in terms of marbling and fat. Breed does make a difference in taste but mostly on the extremes. In between it is the feed regime and how the pigs were raised that is the real issue.

Craig Dobbelyu wrote:What would be a good price for a pair of weened females?


We charge $200 for feeder weaner boars and $250 for gilts. See: http://SugarMtnFarm.com/piglets You'll find that prices vary greatly depending on sex, the quality of the animals, time of year and the geographic location so what is charged in one place at one time will vary considerably to another place and time.

I would strongly recommend not buying at auction - that's the place to find the lowest quality. Also don't buy the factory farm culls. They're cheap but then the cost of feeding, disease and losses makes up for that. The cost of a pig can roughly evenly be divided between the cost of the piglet, the cost of feed and the cost of processing. See:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2005/08/31/keeping-a-pig-for-meat/

Choices such as feeding conventional GMO grain vs organic grain, healthy pigs and doing the butchering yourself all greatly influence the costs, of course.
 
Jay Hunter
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Craig Dobbelyu wrote:I'm looking for quality over quantity in the meat and don't mind having a little extra fat. They'll primarily be eating on pasture and garden greens. If I'm lucky, acorns in the fall.


If these are your only choices then I would say '2' or '4'. But you'll do best to find pigs that are pure heritage breeds or crosses thereof (excluding Hereford) as they are much more suited to pasture and have much higher meat quality. Your conventional breeds are almost always hard on pasture, forage worse and have poorer quality pork. The Hereford is an exception amoung the rare breeds as it was more recently created and from conventional breeds and it acts more like them a true heritage breed.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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