Sunday, May 12, 2013

Oink! Oink!

Our New Hogs!

"I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it."
-George Bernard Shaw

So this weekend we picked up our 10 hogs.  We picked them out from a local raiser, Hinz Hogs in South Haven, MI.  We want to give a huge thank you to Brandon who runs Hinz Hogs.  He runs a really nice operation allowing his hogs open pasture when able and helped us pick out some real winners to get us started.  

To use the correct terminology, our pigs are called shoats, which refers to their age, 8 weeks, young but weaned.  Females who have not given birth are gilts, castrated males are barrows.  

We have a mix of three breeds allowing us to decide as the year progresses which gilt/gilts we would like to keep for breeding stock. We're thinking at most two gilts will be kept as sows, or mother pigs.  We will be picking our stock on a number of criteria, such as how quickly she grows, good health, how she lays down (important so that she kneels rather than flopping over on her young piglets), and most important to us is personality and ease of handeling.

The shoats we picked out are: 
2 - Berkshire Gilts (Black with white faces)
2 - 3/4 Berkshire, 1/4 Duroc Cross gilts (Red and the Spotted)
4 - 1/2 Yorkshire 1/2, Berkshire gilts  (White/Pink)
2 - 1/2 Yorkshire, 1/2 Berkshire barrows (White/Pink)

These breeds all have particular advantages we wish to explore.  The Berkshire is a heritage breed pig known to have fantastic meat quality, as well as make good gains on pasture.  The Berkshire Duroc Crosses should be a hardier pig that should combine the benefits of the Berkshire and the bulk of a Duroc.  The Yorkshire crosses should be the best mothers of the bunch, coming from stock that gave birth to as many as 20+ piglets in a single litter.  WOW!

To acclimate them to the electric wire, which you can see in the bottom of some of the pictures, we have them in the starter pen we built for them.  We also placed a wall of straw bails in front of the pen to limit the temptation to shoot through the fence when they get a shock.  I want to assure anyone concerned about the humane-ness of the wire I have tested it on myself it certainly will cause no lasting damage besides the memory.   They have already shown how intelligent they are seeming to only need one or two accidental encounters for them to understand what the fence is.

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