pastured pork

Fall Piglets

A newborn piglet usually weighs about three pounds. The natural way to pick one up is to reach down and grab it one handed, the way you might scoop up a dropped beer. Though even the smallest piglet has a surprising heft and solidity, it is hard to believe that something so tiny will grow into a market hog in less than a year, increasing its weight by a factor of 100-250, depending on where it starts and where it ends. After a week or so piglets will squirm and squeal if you pick them up, but in the first day of life they accept handling with stoic wonder, overwhelmed by everything about the world other than their litter mates and their sow.

Cows arrive singly, lambs are usually twins, but piglets come in litters. On our farm these have ranged in size from six to fourteen, with ten being our target. Being this prolific comes with increased risks to the piglets, especially early on. It’s only a few days before a newborn lamb can keep up with the flock, and it can immediately tolerate an amazing amount of cold. Piglets are comparatively helpless, so a good sow coddles them by making a nest of hay or other suitable vegetation. (This year ours are favoring the dried stalks of lambs quarters.) The piglets stay in the nest at first, and when the sow isn’t eating she’s there too, providing nourishment and warmth.

Because of their small size and helplessness, piglets have higher rates of mortality than young ruminants. But this year is off to a good start. Three sows out of seven have farrowed so far, and all thirty-three resultant piglets are healthy and vigorous.

-Garth

Photo Credit – Garth Brown

Garth BrownFall Piglets

Comments 5

  1. Nita Holmes

    Garth love how you use your writing skills to share the wonders of your farm life. We enjoyed seeing your wife’s painting in Kayne’s room. Thanks for all your support coming this way. ❤️ Nita and Dean

    PS Enjoying our own freezer from the fruits of your labor.

  2. John D Hulsmann IV

    OK, I just looked and saw the 1/2Pig for about $400 and is ~50lbs. 1) How much of the weight is bones versus meat 2) I assume it is either the left or right half, right? 3) All what different “cuts” do you gys make it into? Thanks Garth (or Alanna or whomever!) __John

    1. Edmund Brown

      Hi John,

      Sorry for the belated reply… burning the candle at both ends a bit here this last week and a bit… There is a description of what is in the 1/2 pig box when you click on the image or the product name in the store. Here’s a link right into that product to save you the time – https://cairncrestfarm.grazecart.com/store/product/half-pig

      Actually the “1/2” will be compiled from several different carcasses. We sort our inventory by the cut since the vast, vast, majority of our sales are in smaller increments that include a cut of this, a cut of that, and a bit of that. Having everything sorted speeds up order packing because we can memorize where certain cuts are on the shelves rather than having to delve into box after box of meat looking for one particular cut. Also, when we send groups of pigs at a time the slaughterhouse can sort them as they pack them. Then we get back a box of chops, a box of shoulder steaks, a box of bacon, etc.

      There is not very much bone in the cuts we sell. So if you got 50lbs of “1/2” there would be a few ounces in shoulder steak and a few in the shoulder roast. A small peicein the sirloin roast, and a piece in the picnic shoulder. Spare ribs are ~50% bone, so about 1 lb there. Expect total bone weight to be approx 2.5 pounds.

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