I focus my animal husbandry around the concept of dignity. I try to raise animals in as dignified a fashion as possible. This means that when I see them peeking through the fence at small clover strands they’d love to eat, I move the fence. When they bark and chase me, I bark and chase them back. When it comes time for that one bad day in the life of a LotFotL pig, they walk excitedly toward the food stashed in the trailer, and I simply shut the door behind them. No harshness, only love, translated in the pig afterlife as the best bacon many of you will ever eat!
We raise our pigs from a variety of feedstocks. All of the feed is Non-gmo and produced in a way that will allow for organic certification in the longer term. Their primary source of feed is Certified Organic whole hog ration from Frank Organic Feed in Jefferson, WI. Additionally, they are fed veggie scraps and spent hay bales from the farm, while feasting on ample pastures filled with clover, grasses, grubs, and whatever else they find delicious. They are also occasionally fed Certified Organic soaked barley and wheat and windfall scraps that we might fall upon like a friend’s apples from their yard or a bucket full of collected walnuts that a visiting kid might pick up for them.
How does the feed effect the product? Organic feed does significantly change the cost of raising an animal. We will have more than $600 worth of feed in each
of these animals up to the time of slaughter. Certified organic feed is 4-10 times more expensive than conventional feed stocks, but gives our pigs none of the crappy additives, colorants, chemical residues, and other junk that is supplied through feed from the local big box. This is demonstrated profoundly in the robust quality of the meat, and the vigor and joy these animals profess in life. Not to mention, a sustainable feed source makes you feel better about what you eat, while setting the planet up to support our children and their children years down the road.
We do not give antibiotics to pigs unless they are sick enough to warrant this. I don’t like antibiotics, but I like suffering much less, and since these animals are in my care, thus my responsibility, I error on the side of their immediate well being as much as I possibly can. We feed out fermented hay bales soon after antibiotics are administered, to right their gut flora and fauna as swiftly as possible.
Our pigs are prized members of our farm community, loved by all, and, once they get to weighing more than an NFL linebacker, intimidating to a few as well. They add another layer of depth to our farm that will hopefully continue for years to come.