Hello all you loyal bacon lovers! It’s me… the Pederson’s Natural Farms Cooking Cowboy back on the BLOG!
So, now for the second leg of the amazing and beautiful hog farm tour! I mentioned in my last BLOG that I was going to title this BLOG “Happy Hogs Still Shit”, and I am a man of my word. Let’s get to the point of that statement right away as I want you all to know it really has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that the first baby hog I handled took a dump right down my side into my pocket! What a shifty little critter to figure out how to manage a feat like that, right?!?
Well, as all honest women usually have to do, I must as well admit it was my fault! Poor little booger had been laying in the corner of the pen sound asleep after getting a belly full of momma’s milk and all the sudden got picked up and squeezed right on the belly! I mean, I just didn’t take time to slow down and consider the situation because he looked so cute and peaceful. I just accidentally rushed things a little too much for the little guy, and, therefore, I got just what I deserved: a lesson. After all, that is what I was there for, right?!? Anyway, that lesson stayed with me all day…
So, I learned my first lesson about hogs in the first 2 minutes of the tour, and it seemed like the lessons kept rolling in at the same pace. Let me tell you about the life of that little piggy.
- A few days before the piglets are due to be born, the mom is moved to a special room. It’s kinda like a maternity ward at a hospital.
- She has her own pen that she only shares with her piglets with straw and extra heat lamps for warmth.
- She needs a really hearty diet to provide as much milk as the piglets can drink. (This is a common shortcoming of farms, which usually hand feed their farrowing rooms Because of that, they can’t keep up with how much a sow needs to eat to grow big healthy babies.) She gets her own feeder designed so she can fix up her own porridge by adding dry feed and water to create the consistency she likes. You can see a variety of individual preferences as you watch different moms at work fixing their breakfasts.
- The vegetarian dry feed consists of ground corn (grown right on the same farm) mixed with soybeans for protein, vegetable oil, and vitamins.
- When it’s time to give birth, the farmer is on hand. Sometimes the sow needs assistance with the birth. A litter of 12+ piglets can take a long time! Other times, the farmer just makes sure the babies get to a warm spot.
- They live with their moms until they are 4 weeks old, and then they are weaned (moved out of the house). Afterward, they are housed with other piglets the same age and size so there isn’t much fighting in the finishing barn (where they grow up).
I learned that every time a sow has a litter, it is called a parity. So rather than tracking how many years old she is, they say how many parities she is… and, by the time they have a couple parities, they get to be quite large animals. I wanna say those sows are big gals with low centers of gravity, and I never pictured a hog being intimidating, but they were. Luckily, all these girls were happy and let me get right out in the pen with them and socialize. It was almost like they saw the green horn from a mile away and decided to take it easy on the ol’ boy!
I learned that the hogs on this farm were loved by the people that work there, and that the hogs are super smart, as well.
Come back next time for the third installment of the hog farm tour BLOG series… “Need to brush your hair?”
The Cooking Cowboy