By far, my favorite homesteading venture has been the raising of hogs. The quality of homegrown versus store bought one is unsurpassable. Until you eat real pork- meaty, reddish-pink pork, you don’t realize how artificial conventional ham and bacon taste!
Besides the flavor, raising hogs is fun! They are such personable creatures! I find that I miss carrying out food scraps for them to enjoy, spraying them with the hose to cool down in the summer, enjoying a frolic with them around the backyard.
We purchased our pigs last year from two different sources since by the time we found the first one, he had only one left for us at that time, Big Pig. (Here’s a tip- if you plan to raise your own hogs this year, NOW is the time to start shopping for a breeder. They really go like hotcakes. We had a hard time finding them the first two years.) After much searching, we found a source for our second hog and what we got was a much smaller pig for DOUBLE the price, Little Pig. Original, I know. Her breeder told us that he was selectively breeding for leanness, and the difference was noticeable as the two girls grew up. The older one certainly had a jiggle to her when she ran, whereas the younger looked as though she was working out.
Choosing a Pig Breed: Meat-Type or Lard Type
Meat Type on Left…. Fat Type on Right.
And while we’re on the subject, I found it to be interesting how the specific breeds have changed over the years.
Take a look:
I see the least difference in the Tamworth. If I were interested in raising heritage pork, I would definitely give Tamworth a try first. We know that Large Black Hogs and Gloucestershire Old Spots also produce a respectable amount of lard. The fattiest pig we’ve ever had was a LBH x GOS. We got more leaf lard off of those gals as we did ALL of the lard of any other breed we’ve tried. Hands down, that was the best pork we’ve ever raised and so long as we are able to get that cross we will raise them from now on.
Of course, if you’re not a bacon person, then it would stand to reason that fatty hogs would not be the most reasonable choice for your homestead. You’ll probably have an easier time finding your feeder pig source. Thankfully, for those of us who want the fat-type hog, the slow food movement is making them easier and easier to find.
It’s time to weigh in-Which does your discerning palate prefer, ham or bacon? Or perhaps you’re all about the sausage?