Wow can't believe it's been so long since I have been on permies. So much going on and no email alerts so sorry I didn't answer you Jon Corcoran. I sure hop that you have found your AGH by now. Feel bad that I was not much help. So for an update on the AGH adventure.
Still love the pigs. Have only had a tid bit of meat so far that is due to change as we will be picking up our first meat from the butcher today. What I did taste was fantastic. Hubby really loved it that's why I only got a tid bit. LOL
We have had 4 litters so far. Made it through the first litter nerves shattered. Bella knew what she was doing and did fine. Was a great mom. Luna had 8 her first time. We lost 3 out of the first two litters leaving 9 to grow happy and healthy. Second litter Bella only had two. Bothe died. Which we expected would happen due to her being so sick. Oh well things happen. Luna's second litter turned out 7 healthy piglets. Two of them have the rare Red gene. It also looks like we may have 1-2 blue. We are waiting to see if they hold the colors to adulthood. Oh that would be great. It may be possible that we have several guilts pregnant as well. This is what happens when you don't separate soon enough. Time will tell on that as well. In a few months we could have pigglets out the wazoo!
We have learned so much. It is true they are still pigs so you can get some info easily. However AGH breed info specific is still hard. So most of what we do is dictated by the animals. They are good at letting us know what they want and need. As long as we listen. Spending lots of time with them daily has been like being in a class room. They are excellent teachers.
We still feed just a few cups of albreed a day more or less depending on their confirmation weather pasture condition and needs if they are pregnant or lactating. Since they have gotten bigger they no longer have free range hay and alfalfa. But do get a flake or so a day again that depends on what else is going on. Seems they are not ok just on pasture alone. Yes they are great foragers However to think you can put them out to forage without other input is misleading. So much depends on the quality of your pasture the age and condition of the animal how much pasture you have the types of forage you have growing and so forth. I mention this because over and over I am seeing people say they can just forage. So people are getting the idea that they can just pasture these pigs without any other input. That is not 100% true 100% of the time. That I think is the biggest lesson.
Second lesson. Humm now to upset a bunch of people oh well don't really care. I have also come to the conclusion that buying registered or papered pigs is just a lazy attempt at marketing with good intentions? I say that because the entire AGHA is all on an honor system. It is not mandated that you have DNA testing to PROVE who the parents are. So all is left up to the breeder to be honest and to have 100% control over their breeding stock. And any one who breeds animals knows sometimes although rare accidents happen. I am of the mind set that papers should help in guaranteeing certain thing as much as possible any way. Or at the very least prove good intentions. Most people are honest and care about breed preservation however all the honesty does not measure up to DNA testing. Papers do not indicate better tasting meat nor a "better" pig in and of it's self. At this point any way. It is much more important to know what you want to do. Finish a pig is totally different and speaks for it's self? If you might want to know how many in that line are taint free. Not that any one can guarantee that 100% there are lots of factors that come into play. Still good to get info on that.
If you want a pair so that you can breed for your own meat you will want to know how many piglets are had by mom or other in the line at each farrowing. Some prefer large litters some prefer smaller litters. You will want to know about inverted nipples and birthing problems. Dose the animal have good strong legs? What happens if the pair you get can't reproduce will the breeder stand by you or are you just SOL? Look at the pastures and the set up what kind of forage are they use to eating? Do you want the longer leaner body type with longer legs which seems to give you a bit less lard. Do you want the shorter snout and legs with the rounder body? That can give you a bit more lard? These are much more important questions to ask than just looking for a papered pig. You might even want to see or know when and how the animals have been wormed if at all. When you get your animals home I highly recommend NOT putting them out on pastures asap. Put them in QUARANTINE FIRST!! You might want to worm them as soon as you get them. In any case you will be able to prevent or slow down the chance of brining some kind of contamination on to your land. It's always a good practice to quarantine any new member to your farm. Does the person you buy from offer a contract? This is not common practice currently. In any case EVERYONE who breeds should make good decisions on breeding practices. If not what will happen is these animals will be lost FOREVER.
As far as the price goes the price is anywhere from $75 up to $350 from what I have seen. Again that depends on what you are buying for. If I have a good quality pig that I have taken years and years to build a proven line you can bet I will charge much much much more than $75. Possibly more than $350. There is a lot of time money and research that goes into these animals. If I deal with a boar and AI so that I can pass certain traits on to others that don't want to raise a boar. Dang straight I will charge more. My time and work is worth something, Not to mention the feed vet bills grooming and …. Still when you look at what you are getting a great meat pig that is much easier to raise than a standard large pig. The freedom to never have to depend on the store or someone else for your pork well that kind of speaks for itself. Now a pig that I just don't want in my breeding program I will either cull or sell as a finisher.
So before you run out and get one of these pigs you want to make sure that they fit YOUR NEEDS & WANTS. If you are looking for a high meat production and fast growth these are NOT the pigs for you. Some love the temperament & look so much they are cross breeding to get bigger and faster growth. So there is becoming more and more crosses out there. That can be a good thing and a bad thing depending on your view point. Personally I am not so sure the numbers are up enough to ensure the protection of the breed in it's purest form what ever that is. But then if no one wants it for the table then whats the point? Bottom line is you have to know what you want. Don't be swayed by the fact that they are "critically endangered" At this point I am not sure of the status or the criterial for the status. I say that because on the albc last I looked there was some 200 or so? But in the register AGHA there are over 1000 registered? Could be off a bit on my numbers. Still even if there are only 3000 pure breed pigs out there those are low numbers compared to other breeds.
My boar was about 300 lbs at slaughter @ about 2 1/2 yrs of age dressed out & hanging @ 153 lbs. The numbers could be off a bit that memory thing again but they are close. We opted to do the slaughter our selves because the slaughter guy was on vacation and we needed it done asap. That was a nightmare bad bad bad kill shot. The guy told us we did it too right and that it happens more often than people will admit. If it hasn't happened then the people got lucky or they haven't done enough yet. lol In any case that is just the most horrid experience one can have. We all want a fast easy kill for sure. Yet another one of those learning experiences that we went through. We then took the meat in to be processed mainly because of the time factor. Also my line of thought was then we would know what correct was by having pros do it first. Plus he was so big space was also an issue. After this we will do our own & do them smaller so time and space won't be such an issue. We did find out that a few places around here will not touch these types of pigs. They got tired of people complaining that there was not much meat. So before you buy know what the end process will be. You might also want to shop around for a vet that is willing to work with pigs. That was another obstacle that was hard to over come.
I love these pigs. They are great fun and so gentle. They are still pigs so you do need to respect that fact. Other wise you may find yourself in a bad situation. Some of this might sound like I am saying don't get this breed. No I just wish I had known some of this before we took the plunge. It would have made the learning curve much much shorter. Hope this helped at least some what. Or at the very least given food for thought. If you are looking for an even smaller pig the Kunekune are smaller than the AGH and supposedly root less. Oh and the AGH at least mind do not root that much most of the time. When pastures are dormant and looking pretty shabby they will root to get the root of plants. So really only do it for food purposes. When I had them in the yard they would root for dandelions and to get the moss out of the way. Once the dandelions were gone and the moss moved they didn't root any more at all. Never did root at all in the front yard dang and I wanted them too as that is where I was going to put another garden. lol. I would be glad to answer any questions if I can. Oh and that may be something you ask who you buy from How much after sale help advice info support are they willing to give? Some would be appropriate. But if you pay only $75 hours of phone questions the person may not be willing. lol Some people are just way busy and some want to talk pig all day. Then there are those that are in-between. There is a AGH group on face book and there is a yahoo group as well. Sending me a PM or email is the easiest way to get a response as I am not on the forum much these days. FYI