Saturday, June 14, 2014

Pigs .... Which Breed for the Homestead?

Several people have asked me why I got feral crossed piglets. Why not get Berkshires, Old Spots, Hampshires, Duroc, or American Guinea Hog? One man was singing the praises of the Mulefoot. Well, most pig breeds aren't available here in Hawaii. One piggery here has Yorkshire almost-pure available at acceptable prices, but most pig raisers have motley mixes. Another piggery on this island that I am aware of that raises purebreds asks $350 for a breeding gilt and $500 for a breeding boar, so I've been informed. A bit pricy for piglets for me especially since it might just end up the freezer. The two piglets I got were free, available close by, and needed homes. Since I'm just getting my feet wet again after being a long time away from pigs, these two were just fine. I had hoped to possibly raise a litter or two, but if these two prove to be unsuitable for that, then they will do just fine for the dinner table. 

The other top question was, "Which breed is best for a small farm/hobby farm/home-raise?" That all depends, as with just about every answer for "which is best?" Foremost, which breeds are available in the area? Or are you willing to ship pigs in from a far away location? How much are you willing to pay? Paying several hundred dollars for one piglet may not be sensible for something just destined for the freezer. Is the goal a pig with excellent feed conversation? Or is flavor more important? Which is more important, lard or meat? In my situation, friendliness and easy of handling takes priority. But other people may want a pig that is more weather tolerant, or perhaps renown for its pasturing ability. Physical conformation will become important if you plan to breed the pigs and keep them into adulthood. For a piglet with crooked legs that will be slaughtered at 5-6 problem. But I wouldn't want crooked legs on a full sized hog and definitely not one for breeding. 

If I had my druthers, I'd like to have Berkshires. I've had them before and they were tasty, easy to keep, and friendly. 
   A Berkshire piglet.                (Photo from

Just for fun it would be cool to have Kunekunes. 
Really cute piglets. They are a mini breed, often kept primarily as pets. 

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