Down at Wholesome Valley Farm the hogs we raise live most of their lives outside. Pasture raised pigs are allowed to root in the woods and pasture in the hunt for insects, nuts, and tubers. This allows our pigs to act like hogs (tear up the ground and make a mess!) and tillers that aerate and fertilize the fields and pastures.
Berkshires and Red Wattle are the breeds we raise. Both are prized for their intra-muscular marbling, long loins and bellies, and good adaptability to pasture raised systems. And of course taste. Berkshire pigs are a heritage breed originally bred in England. Red Wattle pigs were bred in the United States and are currently on the threatened list of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
Piglets stay with Mom and transition to her diet of non-gmo grain until they reach about 40 or 50 lbs. Then they are ready to move to bigger pastures for rotation. On pasture hogs are provided with water, shelter and feed. They are moved weekly to allow them access to new pasture.
In 7 months, the hogs reach a weight of approximately 275 lbs. It takes approximately 700 lbs of feed to get them there. Pasture raising pigs is a longer process then confinement raised pigs. Diet, exercise and breed characteristics play a role in how long it takes for pigs to reach market weight. Grain fed pigs raised in confinement usually reach market weight by 6 months. When you calculate in the farmer’s time, investment in land and equipment, etc, the final cost of a finished hog is around $400.