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Viability of various hog breeds.

 
Emil Spoerri
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There is a lot of talk about these heritage breeds and lard breeds and whatnot. Some I have seen from the smaller breeds from photographs seem to especially have finer legs with less muscling. I am actually particularly interested in Mangalitsas. I have a friend who raises red wattles, would a boar over Mangalitsa sows make a good cross for bacon or would it be too fatty?

I wanted to ask Walter Jeffries if his York's leaned more old style or more modern type hogs.

I am very interested in this topic because I am considering starting a fairly sizable operation 100-200 total head, but I plan on starting small with a few litters.

Thanks!
 
John Polk
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If you live in Michigan, DON'T try to raise Mangalitzas.

The state has declared that Mangalitzas, due to some traits, are WILD PIGS, and will not be tolerated in their state.
There was a hog farmer there raising them for niche markets, and the state told him that his entire herd needed to be killed.

You cannot make a 'proper' Hungarian sausage without Mangalitzas.

 
Renate Howard
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Have you found a source for the Mangalitsas? Because when I was looking into it, there was only one person who had any in the US and their pigs only left the farm as meat. I think now there may be one other person raising them in PA or somewhere like that, but it could be a lot of trouble to get your hands on one.

Easier to find, Guinea Hogs also are lard-types, as are pot belly pigs. The pot belly pigs are easy to find and if you cross them with a larger pig you could breed for the size you want and the lard characteristics. Many of the duped pet pig buyers got pot belly X meat pigs and they got the pot belly look and shape but wound up with very large pigs. Of course conserving rare breeds is a good selling point, but I tend to be more practical, that what's easy to find and easy to raise (and has a larger, more stable gene pool) is better. If you paid $400 or more for a breeder pig then found out it's not got great characteristics, odds are you'll preserve your investment and breed it anyway, and that's my fear with the really rare breeds.

As for flavor, imho it's more about how they're raised and what they're fed. Milk fed is delicious, also if they're pastured or if they're fed nuts it makes a big difference. Tho there are distinct variations among breeds, from what I've read, on the color of the meat - but are you sure you can find enough people to want dark red meat when they're expecting "the other white meat"?
 
Emil Spoerri
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So far, Michigan hasn't used the new laws to target pig farmers. Bakers green acres still uses a Mangalitsa boar and if I remember correctly breeding to what originally were russian wild boars. I think not sure on that one. However it appears that Michigan state is still f'ing with him, but have not apparently cracked down. They haven't gone after any "farms" only "hunting preserves". There is another farm in Michigan that I believe is selling Mangalitsas. I am not sure if Baker's issue is really that his original herd was crossed with russian wild boars or what, but it seems to me like they are leaving everyone else alone and sort of stalking green acres from the shadows, probably cause they are peeved he made a huge stink. There is however another farm in Michigan that I believe is selling Mangalitsas. Mangalitsas are becoming much more available, remember, pigs breed really fast.

The problems I see with these small breeds is that they will take longer to finish and cost more to process. I am not worried about customers not liking red meat. People are fed up with leather chops. Also, isn't their potential for breeding problems between a guinea hog or pot belly and larger breeds?
 
Renate Howard
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Wow. I had never heard before that he had the Russian Wild Boars on his farm! Well that makes so much more sense - they are the ones that are the real problems when they escape!

If you can get some mangalitsas then I say go for it! They look really really cool and there's a great demand for them in restaurants, from what I've read.

Mostly what I was trying to say, and I said it so badly, was to be careful not to scale up too fast - make sure you have a market first. Most people who do really good pork have no trouble selling out, in my experience, but it takes time for word to spread and people to find them.
 
Carolyn Pindzia
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Emile Species wrote:Also, isn't their potential for breeding problems between a guinea hog or pot belly and larger breeds?


The problems would arise if you bred a large breed boar to a small breed sow.
If you bred a smaller breed male to a larger breed female (any species) you would not be likely to risk offspring being too large to birth.
 
Chris Kott
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I think there's a lot of nonsense regarding the worry of pigs escaping in most parts of Michigan and further north. If formerly wild Russian strains of eurasian boar are hardy enough to overwinter on the Michigan peninsula, perhaps there is adequate reason, but my initial thought is that the colder it gets, the less invasive a species they will be. I certainly don't see any of those 800 lb. monster hybrids finding food and shelter enough to become a problem here as they are in some of the southern states and the warmer west coast states.

Of course, I could be wrong. I still think methods-based legislation is far inferior to results-based legislation, though. Governments should keep their hands off peoples' bacon.

-CK
 
Walter Jeffries
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Emile Species wrote:I wanted to ask Walter Jeffries if his York's leaned more old style or more modern type hogs. I am very interested in this topic because I am considering starting a fairly sizable operation 100-200 total head, but I plan on starting small with a few litters.


Our pigs are not the same as the commercial York cross because we raise ours very differently and thus need different genetics. To get what we need we have crossed and selected hard.

Our pigs are primarily a cross of Yorkshire x Large Black x Berkshire with some Tamworth and a pinch of others. We have been selectively breeding them for about a decade, fitting them for our climate, conditions, management and market. On our managed rotational pasture grazing we get a fast growing long pig. We get about 0.5" to 3/4" of back fat and some marbling. We continue to cull and select each week with the goal of improving our herds.

If our genetics (e.g., a piglet from our herds) is fed on a commercial hog feed diet (corn/soy) they put on a more fat than here at our farm and grow a little faster perhaps.

One of our big challenges is winter. Thus I select very hard for winter-ability. We also select for grazing, temperament, mothering, fast growth, conformation and a variety of other things. We have about 40 to 50 breeders and do culling to market every week of the year. That lets me improve the herds 52 times a year. That rinse and repeat is important. It's a long term process. Breed the best of the best and eat the rest. Gradually your herds should improve.
 
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