Monday, January 30, 2012

Southern farmers feeding tomatoes to hogs

This article in the New York Times talks about the revival of southern cooking,  featuring several farms that raise heritage hogs -- like the Berkshires pictured wolfing down tomatoes.

Southern states have always favored pork as a staple, and the resurgent interest in lard and heritage breeds is getting wide, popular support. 

Wait a second.  Tomatoes are a vegetable (or a fruit?).  And isn't that what the Snohomish Department of Health is giving me grief about? 

As they say in the south,  sure 'nuff. 


CS said...

What I find most interesting is the 'Caw Caw Creek' Pork, which is "Heirloom pastured pork", raised in a "managed wild setting" (quotes from the website.

Yet, if you watch the 'Ride That Pig To Glory' video about their pigs, it quickly becomes evident that "Heirloom pastured pork" means pigs in a "wild" (fenced in) setting where they have as much corn and soy they want as well as the option to eat bugs and a small amount of grass and weeds... As well as, apparently the same 'garbage' (milk, scrap produce..etc) that you feed yours.

Apparently talking loudly is better than carrying a big stick. I guess we all already knew that though.

Bruce King said...

What I'll give credit to caw caw creek is that they actually show their methods and facilities, and I like that a lot. Here's to a producer that gives people a look into their operation!

My opinion on their operation? Its pretty much the same as most other hog farms that sell commercial pigs -- mine included. Pastured pork seems to mean to most producers, pigs that are raised outdoors.

Every "pastured pork" operation that I know of offers some sort of supplemental feed to their pigs; corn and soy being the most popular, but dairy/whey or fruits and vegetables (which is what I do). There just isn't enough forage on an acre of ground to put weight on a hog, and if you're putting 20 hogs on an acre you'll get bare dirt pretty quickly- which is what you see in most of the videos they have.

If you look at most hog farms you will see bare dirt. I'm not going to call out specific examples, but if they're using fixed feeder and watering locations those areas will be dirt and/or mud forever.

The one thing about the feeding program that they're using is that it doesn't seem to follow the "certified humane raised and handled" feeding specifications.

Random dollops of dairy or tofu or cookie dough or whatever isn't a balanced ration, which is what he describes in that "ride that pig to glory" video.

Nothing wrong with that, just I'd expect them to follow the certification guidelines if they want to claim certification.

Check FW 6: Avoiding changes in feed in the following document,
certified human raised and handled animal care standards:

You'll find the caw caw creek videos here:

CS said...

"Pastured pork" might mean pigs that are raised outside to producers. However, most of our customers seem to expect "pastured pork" to mean "grassfed pork" - pure "grassfed" pork being a unicorn.

The only way I've gotten pigs to eat hay, as a preference, is to feed them 'sweet hay', which is hay baled with a high moisture content (which is what I think Walter Jeffries feeds, based on his descriptions of what it smells/seems like); haylege, and rotting hay that's been out in the weather for months. Out of the three, they really love rotting hay....

As far as 'grass' goes, our pigs (Berkshires and GOS) prefer to root and eat the entire plant, which is not very efficient for pasture.

By the way, I read your entire blog over the last few days and I was wondering whatever happened with the gate/bridge that were built by the state on your property...

Bruce King said...

Um, if you've read my entire blog, you'll find that I'm very skeptical of many things that Walter Jefferies says.

He's gotten better about it, but he is still making the claim that you can raise a pig on grass alone. I wish he'd stop doing that, because it is promoting this myth that "pastured pork" is raised solely on what the find in the pasture. I offered the guy $10,000.00 to raise 4 pigs per his specs, and he didn't take me up on it. I think that says all you need to know about the claim.

Walter Jefferies does know his pigs, and he does do interesting things with shelters and minimal cost solutions and he and I share a love of concrete as a construction material.

Regarding the bridge; the county parkes department was very unhappy about their encroachment on my property, but presented with the survey, we worked out an agreement that they asked me not to publicize. There's not much room to argue when you have a registered survey in hand and stakes in the ground. They had their surveyors redo the survey, and their surveyors agreed with mine.

CS said...

I was merely pointing out another perceived inconsistency in his description of 'hay'.

One other thing I find interesting is he often talks about how his pork is very lean. This confuses me, because I think one of the problems with mass-market pork is it is too lean. That said, I've never tried any SMF Pork so I don't have any idea what it tastes like!

Glad to hear that things worked out with the county. Reading your blog has really made me appreciate living in Ohio where 'agriculture' supersedes most zoning regulations. Where we live, if your lot size is 5 acres or more, you can build pretty much anything without a permit as long as it is for agricultural use only.