I just realized why pigs used to be worshipped for their fertility! My sow farrowed for the second time since I've had her - a litter of 7 strong healthy babies. 7 weeks ago my other sow farrowed - 5 babies all huge now compared to the newborns. The gilt from the one sow's first litter was bred by her brother (didn't separate them in time) and is pregnant, as is the other piglet we got at an auction. They'll be big enough by the time they give birth that they should have no problems delivering their litters. Thankfully the first litters are small - around 2 usually.
If the large sows have an average of 8 per litter, and 2 litters a year, and we keep the one piglet we bought so she'll grow up and do the same, that's 48 baby pigs per year, plus the ones their daughters have before they're butchering age, add in another 8 - 12, assuming we keep around 8/year and sell the rest (going price for pot belly pigs is $50 each). Selling the extra 50 pigs per year gives us around $2500/year, which more than pays for feed and fencing, and the 8 per year we keep to eat will provide around 400 lbs of meat, at around 50 lbs per pig. Feed costs are around one and a half 50 lb bags of oats a month at $22/bag plus a bag of sow chow per litter to keep the mothers in good condition at $14/bag = around $480/year on feed.
Of course there's labor - I pick the wormy apples for the pigs and in the fall gather acorns and hickory nuts. And I have to refill their swimming pools daily. But also fun - baby pigs are really funny as they wrestle and try to knock each other over. Also the pigs' labor - they clear new garden areas for me in the winter and fertilize them also. I could charge for lending out the boar but I do it as a public service as long as the people are nice. The value of networking with local farmers is priceless.
I'm tossing around the idea of lending piglets out to local agrotourism farms so they can have another attraction for people who visit - most have "off" produce they can feed the piglets so would have to spend very little on feed, maybe one bag of oats total. When the piglets get big they can swap them out for new little ones if they like, since I'll have new litters every 6 months. Then I get my pigs fed for free and they benefit by having another attraction to draw in customers. I could probably hang a sign on the pens saying I've got more of the same for sale if anyone wants to buy them from me.
To share the abundance I'm offering one breeding pair of piglets (i.e. one barrow and one gilt) for free to the first person who asks for them and can pick them up when the gilt is ready (just born two days ago so will be ready in 6 weeks, on August 22. The barrow is 7 weeks old, from a different mother.
Very generous of you Renate! Looking forward to the day I can raise some pigs. Funny we have on this thread one posting from Kentucky and another from Maine. I'm looking at properties in both states and trying to decide where I will land!
I really can't say enough good things about Kentucky - beautiful state, nice mild seasons, plentiful rainfall evenly distributed through the year, great for growing grass, and many, many homesteader types.
I think both states are beautiful and have affordable land and offer good prospects to people interested in returning to the land. They each have their strengths from my perspective.
Maine appeals to me for its affordable land, low population density, low crime rate, hunting and fishing, proximity to the coast, and what seems to be a strong local and organic food movement. The harsh winters are a factor but I figured it would help to stay in the coastal region and I could extend my growing season a bit with the help of some man made structure.
Kentucky appeals to me for affordable land, fantastic deer hunting, mild climate, low property taxes, and closer proximity to family.
In either case I've found it a bit of a challenge to figure out what regions to look at for quality soil. I found an online soil map of Kentucky and it seems like any bottom land is prime farmland and hilly areas not so much. Not sure how much weight I should give that. Any suggestions for areas to look at and areas to avoid in both states would be welcome.
Renate, what breed of pigs do you raise? How long have you been at this?
My sows are pot belly, as was the boar that was the father of these two litters, but I found a male piglet that is part Tamworth and part pot belly (he's shaped like a Tamworth but is pot belly size). He'll be the father of my future generations.
I've only been raising them about a year now, I'm still learning a lot.
For permaculture I'd stay away from the river bottoms - too much flood potential. The hillsides are still fertile, and using permaculture methods you should be able to grow a LOT on the hills, as long as they aren't too steep. Have you seen Geoff Lawton's "Property Purchase Checklist" video? Very good information there! Also be aware that cell phone coverage is iffy in the hills in a lot of areas, so if that's important to you, be sure to check it before putting in an offer!