Whenever I have read a homesteading or farming book, I tend to skip over the “raising pigs” section. We had a pig when I was little, and it got eaten by a coyote. I don’t want to re-live that. There are also stories I have heard over the years about mean pigs and my kids are already terrified of our rooster – no need for a new farm fear.
So why, then have we decided to add pigs to our homestead?
Several years ago when I first wanted chickens – even though we lived in a subdivision – my husband supported me and we got chickens. This ultimately led to us moving to our new home on acreage (darn city ordinances!), and my desire to get a dairy goat. Our pasture wasn’t ready, we weren’t ready. But again, my husband supported me and we got a dairy goat and her baby. (And it turned out fine, thankyouverymuch. You can read about my beginning goat adventures here.)
So, when this same supportive husband mentioned wanting a couple pigs, I hesitantly read the section called “raising pigs” in the next homesteading book. Then, I got books on raising pigs specifically. And when I joined pastured pig groups on Facebook, I knew we were going to get pigs.
It turns out that not all pigs are mean, and many of those horrible stories were of mama pigs being over protective when someone made one of their babies squeal (you don’t mess with a mama’s baby – no matter what species!). We don’t want to breed them, we just want to provide our own source of good quality pork.
After reading and researching and talking pigs to everyone I could find with experience, we decided on the American Guinea Hog (AGH for short) for our first pigs. They are a heritage breed that is smaller than a standard breed pig, which is good for us because we need something that won’t demand so much of our limited acreage. AGH’s also tend to be more docile, and that was important to me as a mother of 3 young girls. As a bonus, these pigs can be exclusively pasture fed if given enough area and rotating pastures. We already rotate pastures for our goats and chickens, so it makes sense for us to do the same for pigs.
Overall, they seem like the perfect pig for a small homestead like ours. Sure, they won’t give as much meat as a commercial breed, and they take longer to get to a good butchering weight, but having a well tempered hog who is easy on our land and requires almost no additional feed makes up for it.
Besides being a source of pork for our family, we also are looking forward to them helping us prepare our garden beds, making our food scraps into fertilizer for our field, and reducing food waste from the chickens, goats, and our garden. We plan on pasturing the pigs behind the goats and chickens, so any feed left behind will eagerly be eaten by the pigs.
I have to admit, I am also looking forward to cooking with lard. I have heard how awesome it is, and can’t wait to render and try it myself.