Farming forum: Pasture swine breeds

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So Cal (Zone 10b)
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OldGardener
Sep 1, 2013 6:43 PM CST
I will be raising swine in the very near future and was hoping to get feedback on different breeds. I am planning on pasture pigs - no hothouse swine here - and would like to start with purchasing 2 foundation sows. I was taught years ago to look at the white pigs (Yorkshire, Landrace, etc.) for the sows (best maternal traits) and am considering Duroc (with an occasional Tamworth via AI) as a terminal sire. I'm concerned, though, that the light-colored pigs will sunburn too easily - especially in central TX - and, therefore, aren't an appropriate choice for a pasture based system. Also, I am hearing that the Yorkshire line is too "hot-housed" to compete well in anything but an indoor production facility. So... I am hoping someone will have a suggestion on a good,rugged maternal breed that will do well in Texas on pasture?

Also, has anyone done a taste test on Berkshire? I am familiar with all of the claims that it is, bar none, the "best-tastin' pork - and it is marbled" but am curious as to if the breed really lives up to all of the hype?

I should add that we are looking for quality pork over quantity and am planning to butcher younger/ at lower weight than is standard.
"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln
[Last edited by OldGardener - Sep 1, 2013 7:08 PM (+)]
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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Sep 1, 2013 7:49 PM CST

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We've grown Yorkshires without sunburn issues, and were quite satisfied with their performance. We've also grown the so-called "Blue Butts" and they did well, too, but with vastly less fat than the former breed and that was a huge disappointment to me. The pork was excellent, though, and I wouldn't hesitate to bring another one in if it was offered to me.

A lot of people in East Texas like growing the Red Wattle breed. It's a red-haired heirloom hog. We grew a few of them some years ago and they did very well for us. They are expensive, though, and can be difficult to find, but I think you should really consider looking into them.
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Sep 1, 2013 8:12 PM CST
Our pasture pigs are Blue Butts. Not as heavy as some of the other breeds but "good doers".
Porkpal
So Cal (Zone 10b)
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OldGardener
Sep 1, 2013 10:16 PM CST
I am relieved to hear that sunburn was not an issue. I am sensitive to this issue as my youngest daughter had a house pig years back that had a severe case of dipitty pig disease. I swear if the sun even shown through the window, that pig would react - NOT a pleasant housemate. She could never go outside either - even if she were kept in the deep shade. Within 10 minutes, she would throw herself down and bellow in pain. After letting her out twice, we became resigned to the fact that she was indoors only - and only in rooms with north or east facing windows. Otherwise, she would stand near the window with the sun streaming in and, yes, once again, be throwing her self down bellowing within minutes. I was quite relieved when my daughter gave her away. - and I still twitch every time I think of that pig. So.. I am happy that the Yorkshires had no issue with sunburn.

I have seen Red Wattles mentioned before. I'll definitely look into them further. As this would be a foundation sow, the extra $$ could be justified.

The Blue Butts are interesting, too. I like the hardiness aspect and, as quantity of pork is not an issue, they may fill the bill well. We originally planned on purchasing 2 sows and a barrow figuring that the guy could keep the girls company through the spring and fall and provide us with pork come winter but maybe 3 sows would be better... and we could just carry over the best 2.

Have either of you used a Duroc as a terminal sire or is there a more common breed used in Texas (Hamp maybe?)?

Thank you again for the input. Thumbs up





"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln
[Last edited by OldGardener - Sep 1, 2013 10:17 PM (+)]
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Name: Phillip
brayton tn. (Zone 7b)
Region: United States of America Canning and food preservation Garden Ideas: Level 1
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homeshow
Sep 2, 2013 7:29 AM CST
I have a red wattle sow and we ate her sister. Ours is pregnant from a Poland China cross. As a matter of fact we ate bacon's fried tenderloins with gravy and biscuits this morning. Sausage does not have papers but I kept the contact info from the guy we got her from and he should have papered pigs. We are in central Tennessee.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Sep 3, 2013 6:38 AM CST

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I'd like to share more information but I've shared all I've got. Smiling We've never bred pigs but just buy them as shoats from the neighbors and raise them up for our own table. One day, though, I definitely want to get serious about keeping a good herd of hogs going.
So Cal (Zone 10b)
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OldGardener
Sep 3, 2013 12:38 PM CST
homeshow said:I have a red wattle sow and we ate her sister. Ours is pregnant from a Poland China cross. As a matter of fact we ate bacon's fried tenderloins with gravy and biscuits this morning. Sausage does not have papers but I kept the contact info from the guy we got her from and he should have papered pigs. We are in central Tennessee.


Sounds delicious! I wouldn't need papers - just looking for good, hardy pigs to keep the family in pork. If I cannot find the red wattles nearby, perhaps I could get his name from you? I am hoping to source locally because transport costs have gone up so much.


"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln
So Cal (Zone 10b)
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OldGardener
Sep 3, 2013 1:24 PM CST
dave said:I'd like to share more information but I've shared all I've got. Smiling We've never bred pigs but just buy them as shoats from the neighbors and raise them up for our own table. One day, though, I definitely want to get serious about keeping a good herd of hogs going.


I may go this way the first year or two, too - just to get a feel of which breeds do best in that neck of the woods. Also, it will give me an opportunity to think about long-term housing and needs - temporary quarters (mostly shade) is easy to provide when you only have them for a few months of the year and don't need to plan for farrowing.

Ultimately, I would like to go to a full pasture rotation system running swine, sheep, and poultry but that is definitely down the road. There are just too many immediate things that need to get done - now nodding
"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Sep 3, 2013 1:36 PM CST

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You're going to have an amazing farm, OldGardener!!
Name: Phillip
brayton tn. (Zone 7b)
Region: United States of America Canning and food preservation Garden Ideas: Level 1
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homeshow
Sep 3, 2013 2:47 PM CST
[quote="OldGardener"]

Ultimately, I would like to go to a full pasture rotation system running swine, sheep, and poultry but that is definitely down the road. There are just too many immediate things that need to get done - now nodding [/quote

It can be done! We turn over grown thorny tangled mess into shaded pasture paddocks using the 3 critter system.



Thumb of 2013-09-03/homeshow/a67426

Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Sep 3, 2013 2:55 PM CST
Chickens and goats! A great combination! Thumbs up
So Cal (Zone 10b)
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OldGardener
Sep 3, 2013 3:38 PM CST
homeshow said:
It can be done! We turn over grown thorny tangled mess into shaded pasture paddocks using the 3 critter system.

Thumb of 2013-09-03/homeshow/a67426



Is that a Pearl Guinea Hen (great tick eaters) I see in the photo? I am hoping to finally get it all together enough to have the same system. Our little piece of land looks like it was neglected for quite sometime (stock tanks/ponds silted in, greenbelt now at cummerbund proportions - and growing, etc) and I am hoping to get the critters to help out in the restoration by just doing critter things nodding

Your land looks amazing! If I may ask, how long have you been using this system? Also, did you do any pre-clearing?
"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln
Name: Phillip
brayton tn. (Zone 7b)
Region: United States of America Canning and food preservation Garden Ideas: Level 1
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homeshow
Sep 3, 2013 7:21 PM CST
First fencing
Add goats
After goats eat EVERYHING green (not really they eat most everything green). Be careful they don't eat metal aka. Hardware
Clear out the small trees and shrub skeletons
Use ducks, guineas, and or chickens to clear out bugs and grasses
Use pigs for roots and hardy weeds.
Cut down larger trees and bring in bobcat or track hoe for big stuff.
Do soil test and plant garden.

3 years.

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