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A good life for a hog is outside.


[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text]Our hogs, like the chickens we discussed last week, are raised outside their entire lives. This is called “pasture-raised,” and it lets them live like pigs want to live: they root for grub in the woods and pasture, get exercise, and just out-right act like hogs– tear up the ground and make a mess!

The hogs are provided shelter, water and feed that they chose to use freely, but they remain comfortably outside even in the fall and winter months. They’re moved approximately weekly to allow them access to new pasture.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text]

It starts with finding the right breed.


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A Red Wattle hog, named for its red skin and tassels dangling on either side of its chin.

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We raise a bunch of different non-standard breeds of hogs: Berkshires, Mangalitsa,  Red Wattle, Duroc, Mulefoot. First of all, these do not look like your coloring-book pink pigs with curly tails. Some look like they’re wearing fuzzy sweaters, some have long-hanging dangles on either side of their chin, some are pitch black, some have spots– an incredible variety all living together outside. We choose breeds that are prized for their intra-muscular marbling, long loins and bellies, and good adaptability to pasture-raised systems.

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Our hogs are on a strict diet: non-GMO.


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Inside the paddock where the sows and their piglets are protected. Notice the shelter in the back right, where they can get some extra cover from the elements and when they are farrowing (giving birth.)

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These hogs eat like pigs! Good stuff, and a lot of it. At the very beginning, the piglets suckle on the sow. Eventually, they naturally transition to solid feed by dining on some of Mom’s non-GMO grain diet in the paddock. When they reach about 40 or 50 lbs, they are ready to move to the bigger pastures for rotation. In late summer, our farmers plant cover crops like field turnips and daikon radishes, and by fall the tops are bright green and in some places more than a foot tall. All good eatin’.

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When the ground gets tough, the hogs dig in.


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On the prowl for turnips!

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Our hogs put the “root” in “root vegetables.” During the winter, when all the greens are gone, they root down to find the turnips buried deep in the soil. All this rooting and eating is doubly advantageous– they are getting loads of good nutrients stored in the root veggies from the soil and sun and great exercise in the digging! As a side benefit for the farmer, the hogs are tilling, aerating and fertilizing the soil. After they root around to find their food, they deposit their manure, and that along with any un-eaten turnips decompose and enrich the soil. Finally, any holes now unoccupied by turnips provide a highway for fresh air, successfully aerating the soil left behind.

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Now for some math.


[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][image_with_animation image_url=”16753″ alignment=”center” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text]In 7 months, the hogs reach a weight of approximately 275 lbs. That’s a whole lotta hog. It takes about 700 lbs of feed to get them there. And with the cost of non-GMO feed at an average of $0.24 per lb, that is $168 in feed. To boot, the piglets start out at about $90 per based on how much the mother sow eats during the course of the gestation. Then you calculate the farmers time, investment in land and equipment, etc, and the final cost per finished hog is around $900.

But of course, you don’t end up 275 lbs of meat. The hog is harvested with the hide, head, and guts removed, and the resulting carcass weighs only about 60% of the original live weight. This is called the “hanging weight,” and we’re now down to about 180 lbs per hog. It doesn’t end there– when the meat is cut up into chops, roasts, and turned into sausage and bacon, the net is just about 120 lbs of marketable meat, or less than half the original 275 weight.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text]

You know it, and we know it too: it’s worth it. 


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All this work, time and money is worth it: our hams, sausages, brats, loins, and roasts are delicious. We know there is pork available out there for $2/lb, but it’s probably obvious by now, there were some short-cuts to get there– and sacrifices in quality that we are not willing to make. For anyone who has ever tasted our pork, and tasted the difference, they can attest that it’s worth it! For the health of our animals, our soil, and us.

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2 Comments

  1. Peggy on April 14, 2016 at 9:55 am

    I really enjoyed ready about the hogs. Pork is my favorite meT next to chicken. But whay farm is this? Where are you located? I did not know you could get pork from the Fresh Fork CSA.

    • Fresh Forker on April 14, 2016 at 12:30 pm

      Hi there! This is Wholesome Valley Farm, down in Wilmot Ohio off of 62. It’s a beautiful place and has a great little store open 6 days a week! And yes, we do have lots of different types of meats for sale through our program– chicken, turkey, pork, beef, venison and on occasion duck and lamb, as well. Glad you enjoyed reading about our pasture-raised program!

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