Sunday, July 19, 2009

Thoughts on pig raising

It's time to look at our pig operation and make plans for how to maximize production, sustain marketing/sales and keep the quality of life up for our hogs.
First we need to decide just how many pigs we want to keep as our breeding stock. We know we want to preserve the line of hogs we are bringing home this week from Louisiana as a closed herd. And we want to keep the 3 sows we have (Dancer, Petunia and Gertrude) with another boar as our second herd as they have different bloodlines. That leaves us with the problem of which boars to keep. Currently we have 3 boars and the new boar will make 4 . That's just too many.
We know we will be keeping Samson. He's more of a pet than a breeder, because he's getting up there in years. We just love having him and he's such a good farm mascot. We're planning a retirement pen for him. I know it's sentimental, but that's ok.
We will have 2 boars from Louisiana. We brought George home as a little guy earlier this year. He is the nice dark burgundy color we like in our RW's. He's not old enough to breed yet, so we don't know what sort of piglets he'll father. The new boar is a coppery orange color. Not our preference, but he's a proven breeder. Then there's Arthur. We've had him since he was a baby. He's friendly, quiet, a proven breeder and the only curly coated pig we have. Everybody loves Arthur.
As you can see they all have their good points, but we can only keep 2 breeders in addition to Sampson. Got any thoughts or comments?
The next thing we have in the works is new pasture. We've had to keep the pigs up most of this summer in small lots because the new fencing is not in. Dillon & Brian are tearing out the old fence now. We're hoping to have 3 new large pastures fenced in by fall. These larger pastures will have woven wire fencing parameters with a hot wire at nose level. We'll be able to subdivide them with temporary electric fence to rotate the hogs. Each pasture will have it's own loafing shed and a "wallow". The plan is to keep each "herd" in it's own pasture and use the third pasture for the growing market hogs.
We'll be moving the farrowing into the new barn. Each sow will have her own pen with waterer and feeder and a built in baby bumper and a permanent heat lamp for the little ones.
Of course all of this costs money. We've been lucky enough to find posts at a good price and we're bartering for some fencing and gates. We still need more fencing and the barn is a whole seperate issue. It looks like it's going to go up in stages as we're able.
Ahh projects! They never end and we are continually reanylizing the possibilities, pros and cons.
If you have any thoughts on our RW hog projects, let us know!

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