Forest Raised Pigs
One of Root and Sky Farm's main goals is to grow and raise just, delicious food that can help people eat in ways that align with their values. Our forest-raised, organically fed Berkshire pork is on sale now in pork packages in our online store or in a la carte purchases, as well as in bulk.
Why raise pigs?
Other than pigs just being hilarious, awesome, and tasty, the pigs play a central role at Root & Sky Farm. First, the pigs are happily helping with cleaning out the invasive species in our neglected forest edges. Also, in future years as we plant an orchard and vegetable area, there will be extra produce that will delight the pigs. For example, we plant to have plenty of fruit trees, and often fallen fruit is a vector for pests and disease, but running pigs through the area can help remove the fallen root and add some fertility to the land. See? Awesome AND tasty.
Why Raise Pigs in a Forest?
Because they love it! Pigs are intelligent and curious omnivores, and there is plenty to do in a forest. Scratch their backs on fallen trees? You bet. Dig up some invasive raspberry plant? Check. They also eat the grasses, tree leaves, and other vegetation. Plenty of insects, frogs, beetles, snakes, and whatnot cross their paths, too. Because pigs lack sweat glands, shade is ideal The temperature may feel 10-15 degrees cooler, which means happier pigs (and happier human caretakers).
Our long term goals are to restore the hardwood forest areas and create silvopasture (area where trees and grasses grow together and create more diversity) on the edges of the forest areas.
How are the Pigs Raised in the Forest?
Electric hog fence/netting works really well in our system. It is similar to invisible fence products for dogs, but with pigs there is an electric netting for a visual reminder. They spend a couple days learning what electric fence is all about.
We use a trimmer with a saw blade on it to prepare a spot where a large paddock of portable fencing can be set up. We stake in the fence, attach the battery, and let the pigs into their new digs! Every week or so--when they have explored the current pasture, we move the fence and let them try out a new adventure.
This system enables the pigs to live outdoors and sleep under the stars instead of the rather more bleak alternatives. Yes, their journey ends on a platter, but they experience a life of respect in a natural setting first.
What do the pigs eat?
The Woods! This is the feed that we get most excited about! You can see from THIS VIDEO that the pigs LOVE to eat whatever they can find! Tall grasses, weeds, saplings, poison ivy (thank you!), and multiple invasive species that have taken hold in our woods. We look forward to the pigs changing the landscape for the better as they move through the woods.
Organic Hog Feed is currently used to supplement the mast. We plan to look into other alternatives, but currently, we feel the grain is necessary for the growth of the pigs. Organic feed is very costly, but we hope you find the extra cost to feed organic worth the premium.
Acorns, Walnuts, and other Tree Fodder will be falling in toward the autumn, and the fat and protein will be a great boost to finish the pigs in late October. The most expensive pork, jamón ibérico de bellota, is derived from pigs in their final weeks finished exclusively on acorns, and after aging, the hams sell for over $100/lb!
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with Mother is a tasty, puckering treat with some health benefits for the pigs. We mix it with their water. There is a lot written about ACV, and you might have your thoughts about its health benefits, but there have been a few small livestock studies, and a whole lot of farmer stories that make us feel it is worth the extra expense.
Organic Diatomaceous Earth is a naturally occurring rock from fossilized remains of diatoms, which is a hard shelled algae. D.E., has small enough jagged edges that it does not harm the animal, but works great as a wormer for the pigs to keep their digestive tract healthy.
Organic Kelp adds over 70 valuable nutrients for the hogs diet. Kelp is high in calcium, potassium, fiber, iodine, selenium, and many more. It is a fine multi-vitamin that we are happy to supply.
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