Tamworth Sows circa 1920I'm often asked: "What makes a great pig?" It could be many things depending on what your goals are, but for us at Spring Hill Farms it means:
1) It should be a true heritage breed.
2) Posses a strong, healthy immune system.
3) Excellent maternal instinct.
4) Prolific – large litter size.
5) Forage ability – How much grain?
6) Good temperament – Be good or be food
7) Excellent table qualities – Fabulous pork
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of desirable traits for good pork it is some of the traits that enable us to produce our quality pastured pork products.
Let’s look at these traits a bit closer.
Heritage Breed – I’m a huge believer in using heritage genetics whenever possible on the farm. Many of the methods used on the small and/or sustainable farm are pretty much pre-1950’s farming techniques with some modern day tools and technology thrown in.
It only stands to reason genetics that are the least developed towards new, big, modern agriculture would be best suited to these types of farms.
Strong healthy immunity – Because our methods here at Spring Hill focus on not using any modern or chemical crutches to keep our hogs healthy; we must constantly develop and refine our genetics so our hogs will thrive under good management without antibiotics, chemical wormers, or any other type of chemical or pharmaceutical designed to keep them healthy, grow faster, etc.
Maternal instinct and Large Litters – Every sow on the farm costs the same to keep regardless of whether she raises one pig or ten. To operate a viable business model we need sows to raise at least eight pigs for us to consider keeping her.
We take that one step farther by insisting they raise that many pigs without assistance. If sows are unable to build a nest, have her pigs, and raise them without assistance I know right away she doesn’t have the maternal instinct I need on my farm, This doesn’t mean we don’t give them the best environment to succeed in and intervene if necessary, but that sow will be culled from the herd.
Forage Ability - This is the most under utilized and under developed trait I see. First, what am I talking about “forage ability”? To me it means the ability, the willingness, and the functionality of the pig to forage for a large percent of its diet. The pig must be able to eat a limited grain feed diet, still gain weight, and stay healthy. Many of our heritage breed hogs have been on full feeders for far too many years. This has produced an animal with a voracious appetite for grain and diminished what I call the forage ability trait.
Good temperament – This is fairly self explanatory although fairly subjective. I expect my sows to protect their young. Therefore we don’t mind a sow that will not allow us into the pen with her when she has piglets. Other than that, if you’re a grouch, abusive, bully, or otherwise can’t figure out I’m the boss…well you’re sausage.
Excellent table qualities – It would be kinda silly to go through all the work we do to develop these traits and have a pig that we couldn’t say produced some of the best pork available today. Our Tamworth pigs will stand on their own for exceptional pork. Our Large Black pigs are no different; They stand out from the crowd when it comes to eating experience.
When we started crossing the two it was like taking the two best, mixing them together, and ending up with something better than the best!
That's how we can say:
Our heritage pork is unlike any other a taste so deep and rich it echoes the flavor of pork from a bygone era. The meat is flavorful and, whether grilled, smoked, roasted, sauted, stewed or braised, yields the most exquisite juiciness and tender texture. Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back.
If you’re a farmer who is looking for some of the best pigs suited to small and sustainable farms that won’t make you a hostage to the feed mill. Look no further I have what you need. You can read more of my breeding philosophy here.
If you’re simply looking for some of the cleanest, best tasting pork you’ve had in your life. I invite to try us out!
Until next time…
Spring Hill Farms
Posted by David @ 11:26 AM EDT