Going Whole Hog

I decided to keep our pigs a while longer.  I understand the arguments in favor of processing them at 250 pounds and at 450 pounds.  Both arguments make good sense. But in the end I decided to buy more feed and let them get fatter.

This is traditionally the time of year hogs would fatten on acorns and other nuts.  Ours are fortunate to be in a pasture where there are some big oaks to drop feasts for them. They’re also fortunate to get goodies like eggs and tomatoes (as they did this morning), along with a GMO-free feed.  They growing like, well, hogs.


Unless I change my mind again, I’m going to have them made into whole-hog sausage.  Not only do I love good sausage (Cherie is vegetarian, so it’s irrelevant to her), but it is our most popular and fastest-selling pork.  While I’m really looking forward to sausage (insert smiley face here), I’m not happy about having to go a whole year without barbecue (insert frowning face here).  Next year I’m planning to raise four pigs–I’ll process two at 200-250 pounds for all other cuts and the other two at 400 plus for whole hog sausage.

This is going to be some amazingly good sausage.  Some of the reasons include:

1.  Our hogs are Tamworth-Berkshire crosses.  Lots of folks consider the pork from this combination to be the finest and tastiest available.

2.  Our hogs are raised on pasture.  They live a happy stress-free life, living as nature intended and enjoying a diet of nuts, clover, roots and grasses.


3.  Our hogs aren’t fed any GMOs.  We supplement their natural diets with a specially-made GMO-free feed. A recent study has shown that pigs fed GMOs are less healthy than those that aren’t.

4.  It is whole hog sausage.  The shoulders, hams and other premium cuts are in the sausage, making it a superior quality to sausage made only from the processing left-overs.

5.  Our hogs are never given any antibiotics or growth hormones.  A recent study revealed that about 70% of all supermarket pork contains antibiotic-resistant bacteria (as a result of the rampant use of antibiotics on factory farms) and 20% contained traces of rapactomine, a growth hormone used on factory farms.  Human beings shouldn’t be eating antibiotic-resistant bacteria and pork growth hormones.  There is none of that in our pork.

There are probably lots of other reasons, but those seem pretty good to me.


12 comments on “Going Whole Hog

  1. Jeff says:

    I’d like to see more emphasis placed on crop diversity issues instead of health issues when it comes to the pro- and con-GMO argument. The study about pigs fed GMO feed that you link to has generated a lot of finger-pointing, on both sides. An argument based on diversity (there are over 3,800 varieties of potatoes in Peru – why?), while more complicated to explain, is on a lot more solid ground, in my opinion. Centuries ago, in Europe (and possibly in other areas of the world), peasants farmed in what are known as open-field systems. The crop fields were divided into long, thin strips and were re-assigned, on about 20 year intervals, to account for births and deaths and such. Each peasant “owned” 8 – 10 strips, scattered over a fairly large geographic area. The reason for this was to prevent disaster and famine for the peasant family – if the strips were concentrated, there was a possibility that a local weather or disease event would wipe the peasant’s entire crop out, resulting in famine. With geographic diversity, as with crop species diversity, the peasant was better insured against failure. An argument against GMO seeds that stresses crop failure issues because of industrial agriculture and GMOs is stronger and more appealing, it seems to me, than one that gets bogged down in finger-pointing about health issues. I’m not saying that there aren’t health issues with GMO seeds; just that a crop diversity-based-argument achieves the same result and is better grounded in common sense. Not that there is a lot of common sense around these days, though …


    • Bill says:

      I agree with you. I don’t emphasize health issues related to GMOs. The industry is wrong to claim there is no evidence of adverse health consequences. Evidence does exist. But it is controversial. The adverse consequences of monocultures, on the other hand, are very clear. One perfectly valid reason not to eat GMOs is to avoid contributing to Monsanto’s profits.

      Interestingly, we switched to GMO-free feed for our pigs and chickens this year. The pigs have grown much faster on this feed and the chickens are laying better. It’s possible that these results aren’t due to using non-GMO feed, but it is interesting nonetheless.


  2. DM says:

    Love this post! You’re a man after my own heart. My personal favorite cut of meat from the pig is side pork (uncured bacon) It takes me back to the days when I would visit my grandma who introduced me to it. Nice looking pigs! Have you ever seen the picture of me posing with our pig Winston? I used to have it on the header of my farm blog..think I will put it up again in honor of this post. DM


    • Bill says:

      That’s an awesome photo. Love it. 🙂
      I assume Winston is your boar. He’s a whopper.

      We call that “side meat”.
      I’m not sure I have a favorite cut. I love it all. 🙂


      • DM says:

        actually he was a she..a gilt. I’d already settled on the name before I got the piglet (named after one of my hero’s Winston Churchill) – he had a pig whom he used to feed apples.) She was definitely over 650 when we had to send her down the road. I donated her to a camp for handicapped kids. They did have a petting zoo, but opted to send her to the locker and make her into sausage.


  3. Bob Braxton says:

    swill swine time


  4. shoreacres says:

    There’s nothing better than pork breakfast sausage. Do you include sage with your seasonings? I used to sit and rub sage for grandma while she was making the stuff.


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