Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT DOES PASTURE RAISED PORK MEAN?
Our approach to pasture raising is to give our pigs access to a generous amount of space, including rotation to areas with fresh grasses and brush to root around in. They have constant access to pelletized grain that makes up the majority of their diet. The free access to their environment plays a key role in the quality and moisture retention of the meat. The pigs get exercise and enrichment for a very humane daily life. At the end of a cool day, they enjoy going into their house to sleep together nestled on straw.
Pasture raised is not a consistently applied term in the swine industry. It can range from complete reliance on the environment for food down to limited exposure to the outside during summer months. Our practices are more middle of the road, providing access to the environment year around. We believe our approach to pastured pork enables a high quality life and product. It works well for us. Different methods work for other farmers and there are many content pigs out there in a wide variety of set-ups on many small scale, caring farms.
WHAT DO YOU GET WHEN YOU PURCHASE A HALF HOG?
Purchasing pork from a farmer is different than going to the store and selecting packaged meat. If you purchase half a hog, you get all the consumable parts of half the animal. This includes the roasts, chops, and ribs in addition to the bacon.
Here is an approximate breakdown of what you get with a half hog (Based on a 100 pound hanging weight). These are typical yields and varies from animal to animal and cut selection. Our half hogs can range from 85 – 115 pounds hanging. Back fat can also be bagged for rendering lard. We can also collect the liver, heart, ears, feet at the farm.
HOW MUCH ROOM DOES A HALF HOG TAKE IN THE FREEZER?
A half hog fills a couple typical ice chests.
Freezer space will be needed for roughly 70 pounds of meat. A good visualization is to think about putting four 20 pound turkeys in your freezer.
HOW DOES THE COST OF THE ANIMAL AND PROCESSING WORK OUT?
The hanging weight of the hog is about 70% of the live weight. We charge by the hanging weight as recorded by the butcher. The final cut and wrap weight is then approximately 70% of the hanging weight, for an overall hog yield of around 50%. Therefore, the cost of $3.50 for the animal and roughly $1.10 for butcher, cut, curing and wrap works out to around $4.60 per pound hanging weight. At 70% hanging to finish final yield, this works out to around $6.57 per pound of cut and wrapped pork. Very competitive for high quality pork, but it is good to understand how the costs relate to the product that you bring home.
Note that when the animals are slaughtered here at the farm, the skin and organs are removed at that time. This is what makes up the difference in the hanging weight versus the live weight. The mobile butcher is not set up for processing with the skin on, nor are we set up for scalding procedures. But we can save items such as the liver, heart or ears upon request.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR PIGS?
We purchase weaner pigs that are between 20 – 45 pounds and five to eight weeks old from small farm breeders around Washington State. We seek pigs that come from heritage lines including Tamworth, Hampshire, Berkshire, Yorkshire, Hereford, Gloucestershire Old Spots and Chester White.
This is your second year raising some Tamworth pigs. Their pork has a reputation for marbling and color desirable in a heritage breed. The look and attitudes of our Tamworth pigs has also been a pleasure. My measure of quality is when it is difficult for my daughter and wife to tell whether I just cooked beef or pork. It is wonderful to have pork chops that taste better than a T-bone steak. Genetics play a role, but a lot has to do with how they are fed and raised. Our last blue-butts (Hampshire/Yorkshire cross) measured up in quality on par with purebred Berkshire pork.
This year we will be raising a mixture of blue-butts and Tamworths. We are confident in the quality of all the pork, and this provides variety to have available for 4-H and FFA kids to show different classes.