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Picking a homestead pig

 
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Hello Permies!  I've done so much research in the last half a decade and yet I'm still not decided, so I want to hear your pitches; I need to figure out what kind of hog will work for our homestead.

Our plan: we're focusing on starting a cider orchard and I want hogs as a secondary venture, to consume the waste apple pommace after processing.  We're also planting oak and chestnut, so acorns and chestnut... nuts will be an additional source of feed.  Our ground is very rocky.  Very, very rocky, and I think pigs may also help us out a lot before we even get our trees in by tilling the ground in places we want to plant.

What we are looking for: thriftiness.  I want a pig that can get fat on forage and doesn't need a lot of grain supplement.
Not too large. I don't want to be wrangling 600+ pound breeder sows.
Slow grow out is fine, I've looked at a few heritage breeds and we aren't concerned about getting to market as fast as possible.  I'm not investing everything I got into this one thing so a quick return isn't a big deal.
Decent temperament.  I know this is influenced a lot by individual pig and how they're raised rather than breed, but some breeds do lean toward being more mannerly than others.  I have young kids and my spouse loves pigs.  He just loooves pigs, calls them round puppies and baby talks at them.  Breeder stock will probably become something of pets for us lol.
Availability!  We need to be able to buy our breeder stock!  There have been a couple heritage breeds that I got excited for before, only to not be able to find anyone raising them in our area (eastern Washington and the surrounding region).  I also don't want to keep a boar on the property if at all possible so being able to order semen for AI or bring a stud on farm would be preferable so again, there has to be a breeder in the area with good lines that we can get those services from.
And last, but certainly not least is taste!  The finished product should be delicious!

So give me your best pig breed sales pitches.  What do you like?  Why do you like them and where did you get them?
 
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Gloucestershire old spots are supposed to do well on apples. They're a hardy outdoors breed, said to be relaxed in temperament and good mothers.

Fat content is an important thing to consider if you're selling the meat, some people prefer lean pork, others prefer lots of lard. Different breeds have different amounts of fat.

You could always start with feeder pigs the first year to figure out what breed does best there, and then move on to breeding pigs the next year.
 
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Hi Louis;  Tamworth (bacon pig) Heritage breed is a good slow maturing piggy you might like. Red wattle is another calmer pig.
I haven't met the piggy's who didn't like apples. Although some take a while to decide they like them. Depends on the other food choices available.
I live just east of you on the other side of North Idaho.
In Heron, Montana we have a breeder raising Mangalitsa pigs. Very specialty pigs, I've not tried one but they say they are extra good. Live in the snow and cold with no problems. Long hair ! Not overly large.
They are breeder's so stud service or AI might be available.

I agree with Kate, about starting with a few wiener pigs the first year and kind of see what you think.  
If you are penning them than I recommend using used metal roofing , buried horizontally 8-12".  This works amazingly well  to keep rooting piggy's where you want them.
 
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so if i had all of my druthers. I would pick either GOS pig or kune kune. I have heard they are quite easy to manage, well tempered, lard pig and they are gentle.
Unfortunately, there is no GOS pigs in BC that i am aware of.

Next in line for me comes Kune Kune, this breed appears to be smaller, lard pig, able to live on forage. The largest they get is 300 pounds from what i have read. They are a slow growing breed.
These pigs are available in BC, they however are about 2000-3000 CAD for a breeding pair. I would like this breed because they are smaller which for me is a plus because of the equipment required for dealing with larger pigs. I also imagine being able to feed them smaller amounts of grains. They also from what i have read are easy on fencing.
Why Kune Kune?
 
Louis Fish
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I had heard Old Spots don't have much flavor when compared to other modern and even heritage breeds but I wonder if at least some of that isn't due to diet.  GOS were bred as farm pigs that ate kitchen scraps and slop, raising them on a standard grain mix with nothing interesting to eat I would imagine could be contributing to the lack luster final product.

Tamworths were at the top of my list!  But I can't find anyone local breeding them!  If anyone knows a guy who knows a guy in or around the PNW could hook me up I will love you forever.

I have looked at Mangalitsa but a lot of what I find online is a whole lot of hype and not enough practical knowledge.  It seems that the people who get them love them, but I'd love to hear from someone who raises them at a homestead level vs commercial.  I know there are a few breeders around here too, so that is certainly an option.

 
Louis Fish
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There are Kune kune for DAYS around here. Can't throw a rock without hitting one!  I don't have a lot of good graze though (most of it is Palouse prairie, wildflowers and sage bush) and I'd actually like to have the tilling which kune kune aren't so good at with their upturned snouts. they are cute as the dickens and I've heard the meat is fantastic.
 
thomas rubino
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Hi Louis;
2 years ago i was looking for wieners and ran across a lady in St Ignatius, Mt who was breeding them (Tamworths). St Ignatius is north of Arlee and south of Polson.
I did not buy piggys from her so I have no good contact info.
But I will see if I can locate her.
It's almost time for me to get some new piggys!

 
pollinator
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Something to pay attention to is what was that breed made for. This video will help you think about that.



BTW if you are interested in raising pigs, their website and videos are a great resource. https://farmsteadmeatsmith.com/ or videos at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKiU0P-N1LR61p8qMOJZkYw
 
pollinator
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I am totally biased in my opinion, and here it is. I grew up in Eastern Europe, eating Mangalitza meat many a winter. There is nothing else for me out there.

Yes, they are a lard pig,  and boy are they tasty... And yes, it does take long time to develop the good flavor, at least 18 months is being said. I have not butchered one before that age, so I wouldn't know if 18 months is a must or not.  

My experience with them is that they will forage, root, eat anything you give them, are hardy, and even fun. I used them to get rid of blackberry in some pasture areas, and now they are working on some reed canary grass, we just want to see if that can be eradicated. I personally doubt it, but we'll see.

They can be very hard on the soil if left in one place too long in the wet season. Out winters here are very mild, the ground almost never freezes.

I don't have breeding stock, just buy a couple piglets every year.

The other pig I would try is Tamworth, I heard good things about them.
IMG_8076.jpeg
mangalitza pig
 
Louis Fish
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thomas rubino wrote:Hi Louis;
2 years ago i was looking for wieners and ran across a lady in St Ignatius, Mt who was breeding them (Tamworths). St Ignatius is north of Arlee and south of Polson.
I did not buy piggys from her so I have no good contact info.
But I will see if I can locate her.
It's almost time for me to get some new piggys!


I would be delighted if anyone can find tamworth breeders.  We drove 8 hours straight, one way, from Spokane to Roseberg, OR just to get a dog, and not opposed to doing it again with a livestock trailer behind the van.
 
thomas rubino
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I'll  try Louis!  
 
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I have Kunekunes.   Compared to other breeds I have had they are great. The buy in price is high.  
 
Louis Fish
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Yeah the kune kune are really popular as pets.  They're small, cute, friendly and they have even broader color ranges than Vietnamese potbellies.  I've found that really does an unfortunate thing to the breeding around here, tho I can't say if it's just area specific?  You find listings everywhere for "pure bred kune kune pigs" but when you ask what lines they're using or what traits they're selecting for the breeders give you a big ol' shrug.  They just want to cash in on the pet craze and don't think of things like breed longevity or utility.  Sad seeing how man of them are going the way of backyard breeders.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Louis

You are correct.  My pigs are regristered.  I am very careful regarding blood lines.  I run DNA tests.  That drives up the price.  So, when someone sees kunekunes for sale for $150, they jump at it without a thought for what is happening to the breed. Looking in a different direction, we have seen this repeatedly  ...cocker spaniels,  dobermans,  etc..
 
Louis Fish
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John F Dean wrote:Hi Louis

You are correct.  My pigs are regristered.  I am very careful regarding blood lines.  I run DNA tests.  That drives up the price.  So, when someone sees kunekunes for sale for $150, they jump at it without a thought for what is happening to the breed. Looking in a different direction, we have seen this repeatedly  ...cocker spaniels,  dobermans,  etc..



Exactly.  We did so much research on breeders before we got our dogs (sheltie, german shepherd, both working lines and both picked up with intent to be working dogs on our future homestead) and they were worth every penny we paid.  Dogs are fortunately at the point where most people who care to bother can spot the difference between a backyard breeder and someone who's working for the love of the breed and improving their lines.  Seems the public doesn't carry the lesson over to other animals though!  If a deal is too good to be true,  it's probably not actually a good deal.
 
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