What are our Heritage Pig Breeds?
We are currently raising our new pig herd! We have a Hereford boar and four Berkshire gilts (pig language for a female that hasn't given birth yet); we've been raising them from piglets. While young, we expect our older Berkie girls will be farrowing (pig language for giving birth) this spring and we'll have pork for sale again this fall.
Why do We Raise Them?
Why did we decide to raise pigs at all? The short answer is customer demand. Our first choice in livestock was the Katahdin sheep because we love raising animals that eat grasses and "weeds,” then turn that into delicious, healthy meat. The problem is Americans eat less than 1 LB per person a year - compare that to pork which is consumed at over 50 LBs per capita. If you want to farm successfully you have to raise things people want to buy…
So we started raising Red Wattle and Mulefoot pigs, but ended up selling our breeding stock because although the meat was delicious, it took too long for the pigs to reach market size. We are intent on producing superior quality pork - that grows at a reasonable rate - at a price you are comfortable paying. We needed to: raise pigs that are efficient feeders, who come to market size in a shorter period of time and produce delicious meat.
So we chose Hereford / Berkshire crosses, known for great tasting, healthy pork. The meat of Berkshire pigs is in high demand around the world as a result of its richness, texture, marbling, juiciness, tenderness and overall depth of flavor. The downside to raising Berkshires are small litter sizes, less efficient food to meat conversion and longer times to reach market size.
Hereford pigs are known for their lean but nicely marbled and delicious pork. And they reach market weight of 225 to 250 pounds in 5 to 6 months, on less feed than most other breeds. We are working to combine the best characteristics of the two breeds and have pork available that is delicious, healthy, reared humanely and respectfully, and affordable for our customers.
How Do We Raise Them?
Our herd spends much of their year in a 1 acre enclosed paddock divided into a number of smaller spaces. This allows us to rotate our pigs into areas that have fresh grass and weeds for them to enjoy.
Our pigs are fed a non GMO ration. There is no corn or soy in their food and they thrive on barley, field peas, camelina, triticale, vegetables, as well as apples and pears we get from our friends who have an organic orchard. They are fed garlic powder and food grade diatomaceous earth for parasite control. They never receive growth stimulants, animal or fish byproducts.
Our sows give birth in farrowing huts. They are never restrained. Watching a sow carefully keeping track of her piglets before lowering her body down into the straw to allow nursing is a wonder to behold. Our pigs have the space, dirt, shade, and water needed to express their inner "pigness" - they literally spend their lives in "Hog Heaven.”
What does This Mean for You?
You can enjoy our pork knowing that it comes from pigs that have never been mistreated. The pork you buy from Island Mountain Farm is from pigs raised and finished on a variety of foods - no GMO, no supplements, no hormones, wholesome food and pure well water. We also practice on-farm slaughter to minimize stress, to protect the flavor and structure of the meat, and because we treat our animals with love and respect at every stage of their lives