Spring Hill Farms

  (Newark, Ohio)
Heritage Breed Pastured Pork, Chickens, Grass Fed Beef
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An Excellent Pig for the Smal Farm

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Tamworth Sows circa 1920
I'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…

David

Spring Hill Farms
 
 

If You Believe in the Right to Choose Your Food - Heritage Swine

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Tamworth Barrow circa 1920
Heritage breed hogs are under attack by the Michigan Department of Natural resources.

This is a picture of a Tamworth barrow that was a prize winning pig in 1920. Below is a picture of a Tamworth barrow today.

To me this is proof that the breed has been dramatically improved structurally. They haven't went wild in the last 100 years they have actually become more domesticated. The Invasive Species Act being rammed through in Michigan is the wrong solution to a questionable problem.

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Tamworth barrow 2012
The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund has posted a blog asking for our help in stopping this and helping small farmers in Michigan as they lose their livelihood.

From the FTCLDF site:

"The Michigan DNR has defined "invasive species swine" (in a December 2011 declaratory ruling), as any pig that exhibits certain characteristics. Many of the characteristics listed describe just about any heritage breed of swine. Even more troubling, the DNR characteristics are often displayed in swine that are raised outside, not in confinement. The DNR order not only threatens the livelihoods of heritage breed hog farmers across the State of Michigan but it also sets a very dangerous precedent across the United States for those choosing not to raise animals in confinement."

Send an online petition to Gov. Snyder urging him to rescind the Invasive Species Act.Click Here Now!
 
 

Large Black Crossed with Tamworth Pigs Make Excellent Pork

PictureAfter several years of contemplating and researching old heritage breed pigs I have purchased a Large Black boar piglet to cross breed with some of our Tamworth pigs.

I first became interested in these pigs after hearing several farmers experiences with the meat quality of this particular cross.

The Tamworth is a very good heritage breed for meat taste and quality. The Large Black is also known for its delicious pork.

Several producers are crossing Large Black boars with Tamworth sows and they all say the meat is better than either the Tamworth or Large Black as a pure breed.

Large Black can get a bit fat and Tamworth pigs lack marbling in the meat.

By crossing the two you get a leaner hog than the Large Black with the excellent marbling qualities lacking in the Tamworth.

The Large Black is listed as "critical" on the ALBC list. This means there are fewer than 200 annual registrations in the United States and estimated global population less than 2,000. registered each year.

We will have piglets in the Spring of 2012.

I'll keep you updated on how things are going with this great addition to Spring Hill Farms.

Until next time...



 
 

How I'm helping Save Heritage Breed Pigs

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Heritage Breed Tamworth
When I first started raising Tamworth pigs they were listed with The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy as "critical." Since then they have been moved to the "threatened" list.

While there are many ways to promote a breed, one of the best ways and especially in the case of heritage breed pigs is to eat them! That is where I have focused ever since I bought my first Tamworth breeding stock. I was just foolish enough to believe that if enough people found out how fabulous the pork was I could create a demand for a pig that was on the verge of extinction.

If enough people eat the pork and want more, I've got a reason to enlarge my herd and help increase the population.

How has that worked? Pretty good! I have increased my business every year and my pig population. As more and more people have experienced the pork they want more.

I now have other farmer's (who couldn't figure out why I went 500 miles "to get pigs" when I first started) that are helping me raise them to feed all the hungry customers.

As the word has spread about these old bacon hogs I have been forced to increase my herd size to cover the demand for breeding stock.

Tamworth swine are the perfect fit for small farms. They are active foragers and very prolific. I have focused my breeding program on breeding pigs that can forage as much as possible and still put on weight. This is an added bonus with corn tripling in price since I started.

So the bottom line....

If you're looking for some of the best pork you can find try an old heritage breed pig. If you're in the central Ohio area, look us up!

If you're a small farmer looking for a good pig to fit your farm. Find a farmer raising an old heritage breed pig. I love Tamworth, but they're not the only one for sure.

If you're a farmer who would like to know how to help these heritage breeds or increase your sales no matter what you sell, here's the best fast-start resource you'll find.

Until next time...



 
 

Tamworth Pig Taste Test

Tamworth sow circa 1920 

Did you know? The Tamworth is one of the great ‘dual purpose’ pigs producing stunningly good pork as well as equally tremendous bacon. In the mid 1990’s the Tamworth came top in a taste test carried out by Bristol University using both commercial and rare breed pigs in a scientifically controlled experiment. It was later suggested that further investigation should take place to establish just what it was that gave the Tamworth meat such a distinctive taste putting it way above all the other breeds.

 
 

The Challenges of Heritage Breed Stock

In the last few days I have spoke with several people wanting to start raising Tamworth pigs. They usually want to know about a couple gilts and an un-related boar. Oh how I wish we could run a couple different lines of Tams but it requires way more infrastructure than I'm capable of right now.

 Then to make matters worse, Tamworth breeders are few and far between. I end up making a 500 mile trip if I want to get new breeding stock. I try to keep "outside stock" to a minimum so as to reduce the chance of different "bugs" making mine sick.

 And so it is with Heritage breed stock. Hard to come by and many times a small genetic pool. That was why I decided to stop raising Old Spots. There is practically no one remotely close to get stock from.

 I'm hopeful this will get better in the future but we need more breeders of these rare pigs.

 

Until next time...

 
 

The Goucestershire Old Spot

I'm getting excited to send the last of our Goucestershire Old Spot pigs to butcher. Andrew of Slim Pickins' Pork will be taking this one and preparing some very interesting products. I'm sure he will detailing it all on his blog found here.

 

He looks like he's ready to go, the pig that is!

Pretty Face 


 These are old unimproved lard hogs. The meat is intensly marbled and has been called "silky".

 

How much does he weigh?

Anybody want to guess his weight?

 

I find these pigs to be timid and very reluctant to move to new surroundings. I think it's because of the ears obstructing their view. Our Tamworth pigs are much more at ease and seem to see much better as they have erect ears.

Ears

Here's some information from the Dept of Animal Science at Oklahoma State University.

Gloucestershire Old Spots originated in the Berkeley Valley region of England and have now spread throughtout the UK. The origin of the breed is unknown but is probably from the native stock of the area along with introductions of various breeds. In 1855, Youatt and Martin mentioned there was a native stock in Gloucestershire that was of an unattractive dirty white color.

 The Old Spots are among the large size pigs in England. At one time, they were called the Orchard Pig because they were partially raised on windfall apples and whey - waste agricultural products of the area.

 Gloucestershire Old Spots are said to be good foragers or grazers. This is not surprising considering the type of feeding practiced in the original home of the breed during its early development. The sows of the breed are known for large litters and high milk production. Prolificacy and milk production have been characteristics sought by practical producers everywhere.

These pigs are listed as critically endangered on the American Breeds Livestock Conservancy website.

 
 
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