We got our first group of guilts and barrows in the spring of 2015. We fatten the barrows and bred the guilts. Both of Jake’s Grandparents raised pigs, however, he did not grow up around pigs on his parent’s farm. Jake has always been fond of pigs starting with his first pet pig when he was eight. This made choosing pigs to diversify our farm operation a no brainer.
Like the cattle, we raise pigs that are of the Hereford breed. They have similar color markings to the cattle breed with white faces and red bodies. They are a medium size breed developed in the 1920’s in Iowa and Nebraska. They are quite, docile, do well in outdoor pasture environments, and produce high quality meat.
Our Sows are provided a healthy living environment the way nature intended. In summer they are turned out on pasture with huts where they able to graze, exercise freely, and take shelter from the sun. When it gets cold they get moved up to the house were they run in the same open lots as the calves. The sows are able the take shelter in a 1950’s farrowing house that Jake is working on remodeling. The farrowing house is also used to farrow out the sows during cold temperature months. The sows farrow approximately twice a year. The piglets are weaned off when they are approximately 4 weeks of age.
When weaned, the piglets are moved to our “make shift” finishing pens. Jake was able to convert the old government grain bins on the farm into pig finishing units with outdoor padocks. The pigs are able to get plenty of fresh air and have mud to roll around in as they grow. It takes approximate 6 months for the pigs to get to mature harvest size so we are able to harvest twice a year. Our pigs are fed an all vegetarian diet that consist of Non-GMO corn that we grow, soybean meal and supplemental minerals/vitamins that are purchased. Our pigs also NEVER received hormones or growth promoting antibiotics. We are learning a lot about raising pigs, but in general they do a pretty good job of taking care of themselves
We sell our pork by the whole or half. The more you buy the more savings you get.
Bigelow Family Farm’s traditionally raised pork is close to the same price as purchasing the same “non-verified” pork cuts from the super market. Table 2 shows the various pork cuts received from a hog, the pounds of each cut, and the total cost (Bigelow Family Farms + Butcher cost) when purchasing a 172 lb dressed weight pig. The table also shows the price if you were to purchase the same weight of each cut at the local super market. Although the difference in price is negligible, what you will be getting is top quality tasting pork that is traditionally raised without hormones and growth promoting antibiotics.