Spring Hill Farms

  (Newark, Ohio)
Heritage Breed Pastured Pork, Chickens, Grass Fed Beef
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Crossing Tamworth and Large Black Pigs

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The Large Black and Tamworth pig crossing is still underway here at Spring Hill Farms.

We had our first litters in March and so far have been happy with the results.

They have been healthy and exhibited strong immunity which is the first test here on this farm.

Sick weak pigs are usually a sign of something amiss on your farm but it can also be the result of pigs catching anything that comes along. Which points to a weak immune system.

These litters have been strong and growing from day one. They were quick to get up and get moving after birth and have been strong eaters.

The one difference it seems to me over a purebred Tamworth thus far, is they take a bit longer to show an interest in mom's feed. 

These pigs didn't seem to get after the sow's feed when we fed her ground feed as fast as Tam's do. Maybe a good sign I don't know.

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Large Black cross pigs
The carcass is leaning more to the Large Black side but I'm thinking they will get some width as they get closer to finishing.

We will be monitoring these pigs very closely to see just how well they grow as compared to our Tamworth pigs on pasture.

In theory they should do as well or better due to the heterosis or hybrid vigor.

If you're not familiar with the Large Black here's an excerpt from the okistate website: "In the early part of this century the Large Black were used for the production of pork in outdoor operations. Its coat color makes it tolerant of many sun born illnesses and its hardiness and grazing ability make it an efficient meat producer. Large Blacks are also known for their mothering ability, milk capacity and prolificacy."

These pigs are listed as critically endangered on ALBC website.

We will be offering F-1 cross gilts in the Spring of 2013. These will be excellent pigs to inject some heritage breed traits as well as strong grazing genetics Spring Hill is known for into your pigs.

Stay tuned!

 


 

 
 

The Story of Junior: The Kidnapped Pig

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Junior cuddling his foster mom
I was digging through some photos today and came across Junior. Junior was orphaned in the winter of 2006. Actually my wife was outside and heard a piglet squealing as if in distress.

She went to investigate and discovered this little guy had somehow climbed out of the farrowing hut. He couldn't get back in to join all his brothers and sisters not to mention mama who had his food!

Of course the sow was distraught because he was screaming so the Mrs. was afraid to get in the pen and help the poor chap.

In the midst of all the commotion, the sow came tearing out and stepped on Junior's head as he was attempting to climb back in the hut.  The only thing that saved him was the ground was soft enough to cushion the weight of the sow.

Now we had two mom's worked up into a frenzy. The Mrs. weighs a buck ten soaking wet but you get her wound up like that and she is fearless. She sprang into action and attacked the mama sow and grabbed the pig, jumped out of the pen, and dashed for the house.

I wasn't here but it had to look like a UFC heavy weight verses light weight match.

So I guess that means Junior was kidnapped technically. Or would it be pignapped?

Anyway the rescuer, or pignapper however you see it, takes Junior inside to examine his wound.  The situation looked grave. He had a huge lump on the top of his head and was having trouble with his motor functions.

New mama finds a baby bottle and tries to feed him. She finally lays him in a box wrapped in a warm towel.

When I arrive home of course mom and both boys are trying to tell the story all at once. I look at the piglet and after careful study announce that he "wouldn't make it through the night."

We went to bed that night with the somber feeling of having to deal with a dead Junior in the morning.

I was up first the next morning and to my surprise not only was Junior alive he was attempting to climb out of the box!

The moment he realized I was there he started squealing. I grabbed a baby bottle as the rest of the family piled out of bed to see Junior.

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Taking a nap
After a while with everyone of us trying to get him to take the bottle, mom got him settled in with at least a half full tummy. I was off to work and mom was in charge.

Over the next few days Junior became pretty lively and mom was making comments about how cute he was and how could we ever let him outside at that young of an age. This was coming from someone who lets no animals in her house PERIOD.

Junior seemed to figure out mom had a soft spot for him because he was doing his best to be her favorite child. He began following her around the house and begging her to sit down on the floor so he could climb into her lap.

He would lay on a stuffed animal and sleep by the wood stove til it was time to eat.

I reminded the Mrs. he could not stay in the house and she knew it was true so she began bracing herself for the inevitable.

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Favorite stuffed animal

Lucky for her Junior was becoming a spoiled brat. He was demanding full time attention and rooting his feed pan from one corner of the back porch to the other. Of course this meant feed was getting everywhere and I admit I didn't do much to remedy the situation. 

My wife has booted humans from her house for failing to take their shoes off so I knew Junior was on thin ice!

Finally he was eating feed like mad and definitely well enough to head back out to the barn. I slipped him out when the Mrs. was gone for a few hours and even though she was sad she new it was for the best.

Junior never forgot his foster mother. Anytime she would get near the pasture he would come a running. He knew her voice the moment he heard it.

Junior had a destiny though and it wasn't to be in the pasture indefinitely.

So one fine day in June of that year Junior was the guest of honor at a hog roast. And so it is... the life of a pig and a farmer's wife.

Until next time...
 
 

Full Spectrum Lighting for Goats, Pigs, and Chickens

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Full Spectrum Bulb
I first heard of full spectrum lighting several years ago. Full spectrum lights are the closest light to natural sunlight available. It got me to thinking about how it would effect livestock during the long days of winter here in Ohio.

The main thing I was pondering was would it make a difference in piglets that are born in the early winter? I kept researching and came to the conclusion it would. Here is what one study indicated.




Scientists have discovered a new receptor in the eye that, among other things, monitors your biological clocks.

Apart from the other photoreceptors in your eye that allow you to see, this "third eye" responds differently to light by sending signals to your brain's hypothalamus, thus regulating your production of melatonin, which in turn controls your body's circadian rhythms.

Researchers experimented with lamps emitting different wavelengths of light on workers toiling in the high-stress environment on one floor of a health insurance call center. In comparison to co-workers on other floors, they felt more alert, and the quality of their work improved too. The Independent September 26, 2006

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Tamworth Pigs in the Sun
Since I'm always striving to mimic nature, this new technology of full spectrum lighting seemed like a good fit for our farm. I first bought some bulbs from BlueMax Lighting(tm) and used them in my home.

I immediately noticed that after getting up in the morning and sitting under the full spectrum lighting I felt in a better mood. That was enough to convince my wife! Seriously, the only way I can describe it is I felt much like I do when I get up and go out on the deck and have a cup of coffee on a bright sunny morning. You start remarking how nice of a day it's going to be and get motivated to "get something done". Another reason my wife was convinced I should keep them!

They are a much whiter light than the yellow light bulbs we were using. Even though the evidence I experienced was anecdotal, I didn't need anymore convincing that there was something to this full spectrum lighting.

Some other benefits that are cited by proponents of full spectrum lighting is:

  • Improved mood

  • Enhanced mental awareness, concentration and productivity ...

  • Superior visual clarity and color perception ...

  • Better sleep ...

  • Super-charged immune system ...

  • More energy ...

  • Reduced eye strain and fatigue with a glare-free and comfortable reading environment ...

  • Greater learning ability and intelligence ...
Whether or not it actually has all these benefits, I'll leave up to you to decide.

My pigs haven't told me they're in a good mood or feel like they have less eye strain, but I can tell you this, it's another weapon in my arsenal to keep our new piglets healthy and growing when they are born in the dead of winter or when the days are getting short.

Full spectrum lighting is also a good way to keep milk production up with our goats. This is an area where you need to be careful. If you introduce full spectrum lighting too early in the Fall as days get shorter, you're goats may not breed. The shorter day for seasonal breeding goats is what triggers reproduction.

I wait until I'm sure they are bred and then use the lights.

Something else I've learned is full spectrum lighting in the hen house will definitely keep our laying hens going strong when they would typically stop laying eggs.

Years ago the farmer's wife would mix up hot mash to help keep the hens laying through the cold winter. We now know that it's more the deprivation of light that slows or even stops egg production. Chickens need between 14 and 16 hours of light. I set mine on a timer so they get light earlier in the morning and then later at night. Light also effects the molting period of chickens. It's a natural function of chickens to molt so we allow our chickens to molt and egg production ceases at that time to allow the hens to recuperate.

So if your hens are getting sluggish put some full spectrum bulbs in the hen house and watch what happens.

If you or your spouse are in the winter doldrums put some in the house too! (that won't help the egg layers by the way)

So to sum this one up, try some full spectrum lighting where you think you need it most and see what happens for yourself!

Until next time....
 
 
 

Piglets Video

I shot some video of our newest piglets. These are from our oldest sow. She only had 6 this time and 2 didn't make it. Her age may be starting to show as she normally has 10+

Anyway enjoy, piglets are always fun to watch!

 

 
 

Getting Ready for New Pigs

If I figured right we'll have piglets by the middle of March. Randy and I have been working to get the new barn ready inside for the sows to be brought in.

I'm really hoping for nice size litters. Seems like every year I end up needing more pigs than I have. I hate turning customers away! 

 My average litter size is ten pigs per sow with one having at least twelve every time. It could drop off anytime though, since as pigs get older they tend to have smaller litters. 

She is an excellent mother though and even if she does "slow down" a bit I'll keep her. I tend to keep sows until they pretty much don't get pregnant anymore. A lot of your good genetics are in those old sows.

 My oldest sow is "Droopy." She was nickmamed this as a small feeder pig because her ears drooped forward which really is not a good trait for Tamworth pigs. She is the sow you see on the top of my web page, www.springhillfarms.us.

She may spend all her days here at the farm and be laid to rest down in the bottom under a tree somewhere.

We've never done anything like that, but Ol' Droopy is a special pig.

I'll be sure and post some pictures of these new litters.

 

Until next time....

 


 
 

Thinking about new pigs

A few pictures of pigs and kids on the farm  [Read More]
 
 
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