A Primer on Pasture-Raised Pork (Re)production

Lady Breeder on bottom and one of our purebred Berkshire on top. Both gilts sleeping in a pile.
Lady Breeder on bottom and one of our purebred Berkshire on top. Both gilts sleeping in a pile.
To all who stand at the back of the line, hear us now as we relay a story from BOTL. For no reason at all, we will start this blog post with a poem:

There once was a farmer from New Jersey 
who moved outside Hartford in the burbsies
he got lots of sheep who eeped-meeped and peeped
and read 18th-century literature featuring Percy

​Anyways, BOTL Farm believes in the earth, the world, the planet, the future. Much like the sugar cane fermenters in Jamaica, we look around us to find those things that can be distilled into happiness, and since we don’t have any sugarcane, we think it probably going to be pork. Our first swine minions came to be upon our lands in the cold part of winter 2018. One of the many good things one can find for sale on Craigslist is heritage-breed piglets. As we have previously pontificated, we reared our first thirteen pigs as though they were our own [Editor notes that since we bought them on Craigslist, they were our own]. We built them shelters, we gave them hard-boiled eggs, we showed them where the mud is, and ultimately we sent a subset of them to pig camp. When they returned from camp in neatly packed boxes, we knew that what we needed was … more pigs.

Lady Breeder's turn on top.
Lady Breeder’s turn on top.
Those of you who passed the 8th grade and/or received a discussion of birds and bees from your guardians will know that one solution to producing more piglets is to collocate a boy pig [Ed: boar] and some girl pigs [Ed: gilts] inside an electrified fence for at least 21 days. However, a boy pig is not only an expensive proposition, but there are few heritage breeders within CT and importing pigs from outside CT is a complicated legal maneuver. We will eventually buy or grow an intact boar for our herd, but it’s just not in the cards for the next few months.
Berkshire on Cow-Pig (Mangalitsa-Berkshire cross)
Berkshire on Cow-Pig (Mangalitsa-Berkshire cross)
Another solution is AI. This is where a computer smartly calculates the date to deliver a temperature-controlled box to your door, and as a discerning farmer, you responsibly navigate a wand from the temperature-controlled box into the pig duplication receptacle. Then you chase the pig around the forest with the magic wand. There’s another nuance to this story that involves the phrase “dry powdered lube” but we’ll cover that later and/or when you’re older.
The pigs enjoying a treat from a nearby vegetable farm. The pigs only get soy-free, corn-free, non-GMO feed and these bolted radishes qualify!
The pigs enjoying a treat from a nearby vegetable farm. The pigs only get soy-free, corn-free, non-GMO feed and these bolted radishes qualify!
So we’re not sure if it worked [Editor’s note: it didn’t work]. Pig heat [Ed: estrus] is difficult to identify and qualitatively interpret, since it requires not a thermometer but instead thoughtful stimulation while observing the position of the ears, often at a light jog. Since early indications are that our first AI attempt was not successful, so we simply look forward to trying again.

If you find yourself hankering for pork by the pound, we have great news. We now have pork by the pound. And once we sell out, you can be confident that we’re taking the future of the farm into our own hands. Our own hands up to our elbows. A fist full of the future. Cheers to the next generation!

Smoked ham center slice, also known in some areas as ham steak! Yum!
Smoked ham center slice, also known in some areas as ham steak! Yum!

Last Updated on 2023-03-02

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