When I was a kid growing up on a hog farm I'd never heard of Dwarf Essex Rape let alone knew hogs absolutely love it!
Dwarf Essex Rape is a cool season forage we use a good bit to run hogs on especially in the late fall, early winter and spring .
If not grazed down too much it will grow back for several rotations. I have used it to reclaim old over-grown pastures by sowing a pasture mix with it.
sows have been on it for several weeks and have pretty much grazed it
down to nothing. Time to move them soon! Besides the Rape they have been
getting ear corn from our open pollinated corn. They have put on weight
since being in this particular patch which is evidence that it is good
also planted winter peas in with it. Since we broadcast them verses
planting in rows they were way too thick and the rape quickly out grew
them. I think next time we'll plant the peas much thinner and see how
I planted at the end of August which was about thirty days later than I wanted. However it was very dry and no rain forecast so I waited until we had rain coming.
Dwarf Essex Rape
It ended up doing very well and has provided some really good forage for the pigs. I only wish I would have planted more!
The deer and turkeys love it too! They have devastated the end of the field near the woods.
I reckon the first Monday after Thanksgiving I better break out the ol'
rifle and see if I can get one of those rascals for the freezer seeing
as how I'm feeding them!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I promised I would update you on the Little Tamworth Gilt who thinks she is a chicken.
few weeks ago I noticed a pig running through the yard. I watched as
she zipped down past the house and disappeared. I was sure she belonged
to our oldest sow Droopy. But how did she get out?
the next few days I noticed as soon as we were all in the house she
would sneak out and head for the laying hens which were being fed
outside. She would charge right up and take her place at the trough!
the troughs have a bar that runs through the middle it was hard for her
to get feed so she began upsetting it and eating the feed off the
This became her daily ritual. Watch us feed
the chickens and then run over and start eating. As with any bad habit
(or so I'm told) it kept getting worse. Pretty soon she was waiting with
the chickens when we went to feed them.
The boys would chase her back to the pasture and she would squeal as loud as she could to let them know she was not happy.
A few days of that and I caught her sneaking out of the hen house! Turns out she wasn't laying eggs she was climbing into the bottom box and eating eggs.
resolved to fix the fence the next day and put a stop to her antics. I
got up the next morning and went to the garden to check things out to
find little pig had beat me to it and rooted out a bunch of sweet
potatoes for her breakfast.
My next stop was the
barn for some fence wire and thus ended the pig who only wanted to be a
chicken because they roam around and get all kinds of goodies.
After 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.
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.
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
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.
A question I always get from farmers who are considering raising hogs on pasture is, "how much will they root?"
What they are really asking is how much damage are they going to inflict on my pastures?
That's a good question with no correct answer "except that depends."
depends on how wet or dry the ground might be. What type of soil you're
dealing with is another factor. The type and quality of forage
available, coupled with how much or how little grain you are
supplementing the pigs.
And last but not least, is the breed and age of hog you have running on the pasture.
have read and spoke to farmers who say Tamworth hogs root more than
other hogs they have had in the past. Sometimes they have other heritage
breed pigs along with Tamworth and they say they root more. Tamworth
pigs are very active compared to other breeds of swine I have raised.
That probably has something to do with it. A hog laying around more
probably won't root as much.
I'm not completely convinced they root more but one thing I am convinced of...all hogs root to some degree.
add to it that as they increase in weight they are walking around on
four pretty small feet! If it's wet they are going to tear up your
My experience is they root more when it's
wet so you're getting a double whammy! Walking around cuts up the sod
and then they all have their noses buried about six inches deep!
One conclusion I've come to is you will be reseeding some parts of your pasture from time to time.
best way to minimize pasture damage is to have a lot or two that you
can move them to if it begins to rain long enough to saturate the
pasture for a period of time.
Another thing to
remember is that you must keep an eye on forage conditions in the
pasture. Move them to new grass before they decide there is more to eat
below the ground than above it!
group of pigs on limited feed can take down a significant amount of
forage in just a few days so it's critical to be ready to move when
necessary. Don't wait to build more fence when they need moved. By the time you get it completed your pigs may have plowed the pasture they are in.
key to successful pig pasturing is not to run more pigs on your farm
than the grass can handle. How many pigs can an acre handle? Well that
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.
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
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.
Tamworth pigs are the breed I decided to raise for several reasons. One, they have big litters.
They also are typically good mothers.
We farrow our sows outside in the warm months and many times the sow just goes into the brush and builds a nest.
the winter we use huts or bring them into the barn and put them into a
12 x 12 stall. Contrary to what you may have heard or read, not all
Tamworth swine are great mothers. Most of them are, but we breed for
sows that will farrow outside with out assistance.
had a few since we started breeding Tamworth's that weren't very good
mothers. I like a sow that takes her time laying down and "talks" to her
pigs as she does to let them know "get out of the way."
If they hear a pig squeal they move or jump up whichever the situation calls for.
need low maintenance hogs. The Tamworth sows we have are very capable
of having their babies and caring for them just like nature intended!
training them you will end up with pigs that get out constantly. That's
never a good way to keep your neighbors happy about you having pigs.
Electric fence is a mental barrier verses a physical barrier. A physical barrier is something like a hog panel. They physically can't get through it.
Two little wires would never keep a pig in, but once they fear and respect it they will stay right where you want them.
once in a great while you get a pig who runs through the fence and then
figures out how to slip the wire. If you don't put a stop to it immediately they will get out anytime they want.
only choice is to re-train them or they will teach the rest and then
you're in for a long chase and possibly upset neighbors. Not to mention
they could get out and get onto a road or tear the heck out of someone's
yard or flower beds.
By slipping the wire I mean
putting their head down and slipping under the wire. They usually get
right up to the fence and drop down and squeal as they keep right on
These are the pigs you hope you never get. But usually they learn this by not having a good fence charger or the fence wire isn't positioned properly e.g. not enough strands or too high off the ground.
I would never keep a pig that slips the wire for breeding stock. Around here
if you don't stay where you belong, you become food! That's the main
reason my boys always tell me before they go anywhere. (just kiddin)
So how do you train a pig to electric fence?
You fix a pen for them in the barn or outside and have it so there is plenty of chances for them to get into the hot wire.
The critical part is have the pig get into the wire but never be able to get past or go through the wire.
good example would be a a pen made out of hog panels with a couple hot
wires around the inside at the proper height, which is nose height for
If a pig get shocked in front of the eyes, 99
times out of 100 he'll back up. But if he gets "hit" behind the eyes,
say top of the ears, he will lounge forward.
all you had was a wire with no physical barrier behind it, he is out
the first time he gets shocked and your fence is torn down. If he
repeats that a few times forget ever keeping him in with just electric
But if you train in the pen with a hot wire and a physical barrier even if he lounges forward all he gets is more shock!
I've had some pigs
that weren't too smart and they would get into the wire and run down
the fence for 15 or 20 feet determined to get through it. It didn't take
them too long to figure out they were in a losing battle!
flags on the fence every three feet or so. Pigs will learn to associate
the flags with the shock and avoid them. That way when you put them out
on pasture and use the same flags they won't even try the fence because
they "know" they can't get past it.
I have found a
good flagging material is the tape that surveyors use. It's bright
orange or pink and you can get it by the roll at most any home
improvement store. It lasts for a long time and the colorful tape keeps you from running into it with equipment or your bare leg!
The only time I have pigs get out of a new pasture is not enough flags and they can't see it.
When visitors come you can quickly point out to the little kids that the flags will bite and do not get near them.
I love using fiberglass post with insulators that you can slide up or down to adjust the height as the pigs grow.
way you can keep it at nose height no matter what size they are. The
bigger they get the easier it is to hold them in. Little pigs can slip
through a wire very easily.
There are a million
chargers on the market but a good rule of thumb is use one at least
twice as big as what you think you'll need. You usually end up
running way more fence than you ever planned to in the beginning anyway
so get a charger once and be done with it.
Look for a charger that is low impedance and at least 3 joules.
I currently use a 15 joule charger and even my old sows do not fool with the fence. It can stand heavy weed pressure or even have a deer run through it and be on the ground and pigs stay put.
We use two strands for almost everything and with sows many times only a single strand.
It comes down to training them right the first time and and having the right equipment and no worries.
Several years ago I was surprised to have a pig that looked more like a Oxford Sandy & Black pig from England. I was surprised because it was the offspring of a registered pair of Tamworth!
It was my when I first started breeding Tamworth Swine so I thought "wow you mean a breed this old doesn't always breed true?"
According to what I had read and in talking to other breeders they had all said Tamworth pigs always breed true.
The Oklahoma State University website says: "It is one of the most prepotent of the breeds in fixing its type of offspring."
I inquired around to some other breeders online and showed them picture and not a one had seen a Tamworth pig like this.
Spot with some of his littermates
I suppose there are all kinds of theories that could be discussed such as perhaps maybe some Gloucestershire Old Spot blood was mixed in long, long, ago while improving the breed and it surfaced by breeding this pair.
theory, which is the one I ascribe to, is this is what some Tamworth
looked like (as far as coloring) when the breed was first improved.
I have read some old texts indicated some very early Tamworth swine had a sandy color with black spots.
the case we bred that particular pair of Tamworth five times and every
time she had one and only one that looked like that.
Anybody else ever see a Tamworth pig with this coloring?
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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!
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.
Taking a nap
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.
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
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.
Favorite stuffed animal
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.
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.
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.
I came across this old account of hogging off corn recently. Since I was already thinking this might be a good idea as I blogged about a couple of months ago it seemed a good addition to my previous post.
HOGGING OFF CORN FIELDS - J.M. MILLIKIN, in the National Live Stock Journal 1897
am aware that the people who reside in the East, where grain is high,
will be greatly shocked to think that any one would presume to say
anything in behalf of such a 'lazy, wasteful, and untidy' mode of using a
crop of corn. Indeed western men can be found who will denounce the
unfarmer-like proceeding in unmeasurable terms. But let us see if
something cannot be said in support of what some may regard as a very
"In managing our farming operations, there are two things that should not be lost sight of:
"First - We should aim to so manage our affairs as to realize a good profit on our labors and investment; and "Secondly - To so cultivate our land as to maintain, if not to increase, its productiveness.
you have a field of corn of a size suited to the number of hogs you
intend to fatten, supplied with water, there is no plan you can adopt of
feeding said corn to your hogs that will produce better results than by
turning your hogs into the filed, where they can eat at their pleasure.
As a rule, the weather is generally good in September and October. If
so, there will be no loss of grain, while the saccharine juice of the
stalks will contribute somewhat to the improvement of the hogs. The
expense of gathering the corn, and in giving constant attention in
feeding, is quite an important item to any man who has other pressing
work to perform. Besides hogs turned into a field for fifty or sixty
days are likely to do better than they will do under any other ordinary
" There is no plan of using the products of a
corn field better calculated to maintain its fertility than the hogging
off process. Everything produced off the ground is returned to it; and
if the proper mode is adopted of plowing everything under in the fall,
the soil will be improved rather than impoverished. This is my theory
upon the subject, which is sustained by my experience and observation,
and which I have occasionally urged on the attention of others.
very few days since I was in conversation with some farmers upon this
subject, when a very reliable, careful, and excellent farmer gave this
account of his own experience, which I give, with the remark that his
statements are entitled to the fullest confidence. He said: 'I have
cultivated one field eleven successive years
in corn, and every fall turned in my fattening hogs, and fed it off. My
crops of corn rather increased than diminished. In the spring, after
feeding off the corn for eleven years, I sowed the field in spring
barley. I had a crop of forty bushels per acre. I plowed the stubble
under, and sowed the same field in wheat. The next harvest I had a crop
of wheat of forty-two and a half bushels per acre'
"Thus you have the theory, the practice, and the result, of the hogging off process."
couple of Mr. Milikin's points stand out to me. He brings up the fact
that if the pigs are hogging off corn the farmer doesn't have to concern
himself with harvesting the crop or the daily chore of feeding the hogs.
That almost convinces me right there!
He also points out the
value of manure as fertilizer. This is one of the factors almost never
taken into account in modern agriculture.
With both fuel and fertilizer prices on the rise it looks like a "no brainer" to me!
wonder how you keep grass-fed pigs and chickens eating grass in the
winter? The main way of course is to feed hay. We feed all our stock hay
in the winter including the chickens. Old breed chickens will scratch
through good hay and eat a bit of green material but I love finding ways
to trick them into eating more!
When you're dealing with
animals that aren't herbivores this can be tricky. Our older pigs will
eat good hay very well. Notice I said good hay. There is a lot of stuff
sold these days with the term "good hay" used and if you were to check
the protein content you would find it's not that great.
digressing into a blog post on how to determine if hay is good enough
for your particular livestock, let me just say find a good farmer you
can trust if you don't make your own hay and buy from them.
feed a lot of Alfalfa mainly because it's available here in Ohio and if
I'm going to spend much money on hay I want something that is going to
be nutrient dense. So when you're spending hard earned money, it almost
sickens you to think it's getting wasted.
Feeding hay on the
ground is the best way I know to waste it. Unless you have some good
grass hay and use it to bed pigs also. I learned this from Walter over
at his blog. Walter and his family are the real deal when it comes to sustainable farming and raising pigs on pasture.
one thing that's always bothered me is when feeding good, leafy,
Alfalfa hay, is the amount of leaves that drop off every time you handle
it. Some hay is worse than other, but no matter what you lose some
every time you handle it.
For instance I bust a bale open and
head for the goats with a couple flakes and as I'm picking it up I see
what looks like TONS of dust size green leaves falling onto the ground
when I separate it from the bale.
After a few days of feeding the
goats the hay rack has about 3 or 4 inches of this green material
laying in the bottom and they will not eat it.
Alfalfa Rack for Pigs
way with the hogs. I feed them in hay racks I made based on the old
ones used back years ago which have a trough built in the bottom to feed
grain. This also helps keep hay off the ground where it is quickly
trampled in by the pigs feet. (See picture). I could have tromped out
and taken a picture of one of my own, but it seemed easier to keep
drinking coffee and use one I already had on the computer!
hay racks also end up with green hay dust in them about 4 or so inches
deep. If you're feeding something besides Alfalfa, it's called hay seed.
I suppose you could call this stuff hay seed too but I never had a
problem cleaning out hay seed and throwing it on the ground. But I can
not bring myself to do that with this nice green rich looking product!
It's actually home made alfalfa leaf meal.
So I found another use
for it...I now take it out and put it in a five-gallon bucket and feed
it back to the chickens and young pigs.
I say young pigs because
the younger the pig, the less green material they are willing/able to
consume. As pigs get older they are much better at utilizing roughage.
chickens get hay on the ground in the coop but they really don't eat as
much as I wish they would. So...I mix this dust or hay seed or alfalfa
leaf meal or whatever you care to call it with the chicken feed.
Home Made Alfalfa Leaf Meal
way with the young pigs. I mix it in the self-feeder and it gets eaten
instead of wasted. I have checked the feeders after mixing it in and it
is gone, no picking around it, they eat it. So I'm thrilled to take
something it used to kill me to waste and feed it, since that's what I
bought it for to begin with.
We don't grind our own feed, but if
we did, it would be perfect to toss in the grinder when batching feed.
Alfalfa meal has been used as both pig and chicken feed in years gone by
but not so much now. The old trio mixture for pigs contained alfalfa or
other legume hay.
We do the same thing with the hay the goats
pull out and drop on the ground around the rack. Gather it up and throw
it to the hogs. Just one more reason why farms should practice
What one won't eat another will. Especially with a bit of trickery!
Tamworth is probably the purest of the modern breeds of swine, it
having been improved more largely by selection and care than by the
introduction of the blood of other breeds.
One historian claims
that the foundation stock was introduced into England from Ireland by
Sir Robert Peel about 1815, but others speak of it being plentiful in
the Midland counties of England previous to that date. Sir Robert Peel
is said to have maintained a herd of this sort near the town of Tamworth
(from whence the breed takes its name), in South Staffordshire, until
the time of his death, in 1850. During a long period the breed was
little seen outside of the counties of Leicestershire, Staffordshire and
Northhamptonshire. It was at that time a dark red and grisly animal
that was able to thrive on pasture during the summer and beachnuts and
acorns found in the forests, during the fall and early winter. The
original stock was long in limb, long and thin in the snout and head,
and flat in the rib. The pigs were active, hardy, good grazers and very
prolific, but were slow in maturing. Being rather spare in body they
carried very little fat, and when fatted and slaughtered they are said
to have produced a large proportion of flesh.
Tamworth Sow circa 1914
later times, after the country had become enclosed and the land began
to be brought under cultivation, a quieter pig, with a greater
disposition to fatten was desired. In the effort to produce such an
animal, crosses of pigs having a strong infusion of Neapolitan blood
were introduced. It is also said that a few breeders used a white pig
that had been improved by Bakewell. The result of the mixture was a
black, white and sandy pig. In the hands of of breeders in certain
districts of Staffordshire all but the the red or sandy colors were bred
out, and pains were taken by selection to increase the feeding
qualities of their pigs, and by the middle of the last century a very
desirable class of pig had been evolved. It is claimed on good authority
that a sow of the Tamworth breed won first prize at the northampton
show in 1847 in a class which included Berkshire, Essex, and other
Fortunately the class of men who had undertaken
the improvement of some of the other breeds, by sacrificing almost
everything to an aptitude to fatten, did not undertake the Tamworth,
hence the preservation of the length and prolificacy of the breed.
Improvement was accomplished by reducing the length of limb, increasing
the depth of body, and improving the feeding qualities of the animals.
Tamworth Barrow circa 1914
a number of years previous to 1870 the breed received comparatively
little attention outside its own home. About that time the bacon curers
opened a campaign against the then fashionable, short, fat and heavy
shouldered pigs, which they found quite unsuitable for the production of
streaked side meat for which the demand was constantly increasing. The
Tamworth then came into prominence as an improver of some of the other
breeds, in which capacity it was a decided success owing to its long
established habit of converting its food into lean meat. This breed at
once assumed an important place among the best sorts in Britain. The
Tamworths were given a separate classification at the Royal and other
British shows about 1885. In general outline they are long, smooth and
fairly deep, having a moderatly light fore end and deep ham; their
carriage is easy and active on strong, straight legs. In color the
Tamworth is golden red, on flesh-colored skin, free from black spots.
Tamworth belongs to the large breeds, reaching weights almost equal to
the Yorkshire. Mature boars in show condition should weigh from 650 to
upwards of 700 pounds, and the sows about 600 to 650 pounds. Sows and
barrows that are wisely and well reared are ready for the packers at
about 7 months of age, weighing from 180 to 200 pounds.
points of excellence for the Tamworth, as in the case of the improved
Yorkshire, should conform as nearly as possible to the requirements of
the bacon trade, without overlooking constitutional vigor and easy
feeding qualities. - J. B Spencer B.S.A., July 1914
At Spring Hill Farms we try to do things as close to natural as we can. To us that means no chemical wormers.
realize many farms do use chemical wormers. I also know small farms or
organically oriented farms many times use chemical, commercial wormers.
have used them in cases where stock was not responding to natural
methods. By that I mean in the early years when we first started
breeding Tamworth pigs we had some that did not do well in our type of system.
got a parasite load that caused them to drop weight and if we would
have let it go they would have been stunted or even sick enough to die
from the worms. Although this only happened twice we pulled them off the
pastures and chemically wormed them, got them well, and then sold them.
experience tells me you can selectively breed for parasite resistance.
But that's only one piece of the puzzle. Poor management will trump even
the best genetics. You can take some of my Tamworth Hogs and put them
in a small lot that eventually turns to dirt and manure and you could
very likely expose them to enough of a parasite load to end up with
major drawback to killing these parasites with chemicals is that they
tend to mutate very quickly in order to survive the onslaught, so new
and more powerful chemicals have to be developed to kill them, and the
cycle continues. If you are over using wormers it is even worse.
recently spoke with someone about goats and they said that for round
worms in goats the product SAFEGUARD is not effective in almost all of
the United States because the round worms have become immune to it.
me parasite resistance is one reason to avoid chemical wormers. I have
seen research that indicates the wormers once they pass through the
animal ends up in the soil. I don't want parasiticides in my soil.
product on the market is Ivermectin. While I certainly am not even
close to an expert on any of these products natural or chemical, it just
doesn't seem right to me that I can give my pigs a dose of Ivermectin
and it not only kills the internal parasites, it also rids them of
external parasites. I'm not sure how it does this, but it seems like the
stuff actually poisons the critters through the skin. Not something I'm
comfortable eating later on.
Which brings me to my next point.
I'm not comfortable with the fact that my pork, beef, or chicken may
have parasiticide residue in it. Now I know the research that has been
done to indicate that it's is minimal and it's harmless. But I say err
on the side of caution.
Scientific cleverness is what has caused
many of the messes in modern agriculture. I look at it this way, if it
is safe to consume or there is no residue even present by the time it
gets to the table, great! All the people consuming this type of meat are
at no risk.
But if it is harmful as we may find out down the road, I'm not effected nor are my customers because we don't use them.
Next time I'll talk about our approach to parasite control here at Spring Hill Farms.
The practice of letting pigs eat the corn from the stalks is a good alternative way of finishing pigs. It is a great labor saving practice because instead of having to pick the corn the pigs do the picking! It was a popular method in the early 1900's as corn harvesting was much more labor intensive than it is now.
It works well today if you don't have all the equipment to harvest the corn and store it. (which I don't) You basically turn the hogs into the corn when it's ready to pick. The corn can be higher moisture than it would be if storing so there is also the savings of drying the corn.
Another advantage is the hogs are distributing the manure through out the field so there is no cleaning the barn. This is something we do year around as I hate cleaning barns. All our pigs are on pasture Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.
It is best if the fertilizer is spread by the animals verses having to do it with equipment. With fuel costs on the rise constantly, I figure why go that route when the pigs can do it themselves.
Some disadvantages to this type of feeding is you will have some waste. The best way seems to be allow the pigs access to small sections of the field at a time so they don't wander around knocking corn down and not eating it. This is easily accomplished by using electric fencing.
Chickens help clean up so a few laying hens running around are a good way to keep waste to a minimum. They will also add to the manure and they have a higher nitrogen content to their manure so it helps in that way as well.
Another disadvantage is the pigs should have some size to them when you turn them in as corn alone is good as a finisher. The last eight weeks or so of the pigs life before slaughter is best so timing is an issue.
I plan to plant open pollinated corn this Spring and seed dwarf essex rape or maybe field peas or perhaps both in the corn. Both of these are high in protein whereas the corn isn't so this should help balance the ration. I hope that this will enable me to run the pigs at a slightly younger age for a longer time period. Maybe run some smaller pigs to help clean up after the bigger ones? I found a open pollinated seed corn that does well in Ohio. You can visit their website here.
Plus we will be feeding fresh goats milk so the pigs should do quite well.
One of many reasons why we like pigs here at Spring Hill Farms, they are so versatile.
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.
I came across some old writings recently that stated the Tamworth at one point had some "crosses of pigs having a strong infusion of Neapolitan blood...It is also said that a few breeders used a white pig that had been improved by Bakewell."
I was surprised as everything I ever read about the Tamworth indicates no particular story of having any known infusion of other breeds. Some have speculated that probably it did, have but no indication of what type.
Although the writer didn't say anything with certainty, I found the account interesting.
They did start out saying "The Tamworth is probably the purest of the modern breeds of swine, it having been improved more largely by selection and care than by the introduction of the blood of other breeds."
They go on to say, "Fortunately the class of men who had undertaken the improvement of some of the other breeds, by sacrificing almost everything to an aptitude to fatten, did not undertake the Tamworth; hence the preservation of the length and prolificacy of the breed. For a number of years previous to 1870 the breed received comparatively little attention outside it's own home. About that time the bacon curers opened a campaign against the then fashionable short, fat and heavy shouldered pigs, which they found quite unsuitable for the production of streaked side meat for which the demand was constantly increasing. The Tamworth then came into prominence as an improver of some of the other breeds, in which capacity it was a decided success owing to its long established habit of converting it's food into lean meat."
We're thankful to those very early Tamworth breeders here at Spring Hill Farms, and once our customers try some of our old fashion hickory smoked bacon they are too!