Tuesday, January 8, 2019

pet pigs and/or eating boars or older sows

Story and question from email:  

Hi Bruce, 
The summer before last my husband and I bought two pigs from you that 6 months later we butchered.  (Great pigs.)  We also left with 4 baby piglets that needed bottle feeding. I volunteered to take them so my summer camp kids could help raise them. (They loved them). You thought they would most likely not make it since they didn't get colostrum from their mother who had abandoned them. Well, two did die but two survived and they are now giant pigs. A male and a female. Friendly pigs that now I don't know what to do with them. The boy never got castrated, and the female doesn't seem to be pregnant. I am wondering what to do. If you have any advice or may know someone who would want them? A breeding pair? I don't have the proper set up for them anymore. They have plowed the extent of my pasture, using an electric fence and now in the barnyard..they have outgrown the barn space. I am told they are too old to butcher and that uncastrated male meat should not be eaten. Sorry to bother you I know you are busy but any advice would be appreciated.

So there's two possible questions here: (a) what do I do with a pig that I've become attached to and can't see slaughtered or  (b) is it ok to eat boars or older sows?  

There's nothing wrong with the meat from older pigs; it tends to be tougher than the meat from younger pigs, but cooked low and slow or braised and it'll be as tender as you want it to be.  Crock pots, pressure cookers, or just slow roasting will get you to the degree of tenderness you want in your pork.  Older animals will tend to have a higher amount of fat, and for things like salami or other charcuterie may actually work better than a younger pig that isn't as fat.  A good salami is about 30% fat in my opinion.  

The meat from boars can be eaten; the concern is with boar taint, which is an unpleasant smell which can be present in the fat of uncastrated male pigs.  But there's a couple of things you should know.  1) not everyone can smell or detect boar taint - I had one boar processed that I could not eat because of it, but my brother happily at it - I can smell it, he can't.  About 20% of the population can detect boar taint, and the other 80% cannot.  

  And not all boars have detectable taint.  The easy way to test this is at slaughter time - you slice off some of the fat and fry it up.  If you smell frying fat and no unpleasant odor either you can't smell boar taint or there isn't any in that particular animal.  

If there is boar taint you can use that pork in highly spiced sausages.  Chorizo or pepperoni being popular choices.  

With respect to keeping a pig that you're attached to, a full-sized sow or boar will maintain weight on 6lbs of feed per day.  They'll want more, but my feed price is about $0.19/lb, and so it costs about $1.20/day to feed a full-grown pig, about $36/month.  So that's the price of your very large pet.  

With that said, there are several pigs that have died of old age on my farm because I couldn't bring myself to shoot them.  Each had a particular story, and each lived a long and happy life.  


Bill Gauch said...

Glad to see you back posting. With the long delay, I was afraid that something further transpired with your neighbor and you ended up with 6 months in the clink. :)

I use this defense all the time when my kid wants a farm-animal pet, which we can't have. She really wants a cow and wants to be a farmer but doesn't want to ever kill any of her animals. I tell her that the only way we can have an animal would be if we can eat it afterwards.

Nick in RI said...

Bruce --

I just wanted to drop a note to say it's good to see you posting again. I've been reading your blog for a while and have always enjoyed it. I was beginning to worry that something was up when there was a long period without updates.

David said...

Great to see new postings. Thanks

Unknown said...

Hello this will be directed to the post about boars and older sows. I reside in Snohomish county and castrate pigs both young and old for the reason of taint and if you still have the boar I can castrate him and after a short period of time he will be ready to process. 425-399-3037 feel free to contact me for your castration needs.

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