Saturday, January 26, 2008

Red Wattle Hogs

Since I kind of have hogs on the brain right now I thought I would take some time today to give a little insight into my hog research. I have gone back and forth between purebreds and hybrids, but I am beginning to lean towards the purebred side of the fence. At first I wasn't sure if I wanted to deal with another registered animal and the registry and mess that can come with it, but the more I think about it and the more I think about what my passion is I keep coming back to the heritage and smaller (numbers) breeds. One breed that I have been researching a lot lately is the Red Wattle.

Marian of Five Ponds Farm is the one who turned me on to Red Wattles. Five Ponds is the farm where we are purchasing our Dexter bull from and they just happen to raise Red Wattles. Before contacting her I had never heard of them. You can check out this LINK from the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy if you would like to get a nice introduction ... and of course check out all the information that Marian has gathered at this LINK.

The origin of Red Wattle hogs is sort of hazy. Most of the history that we know for sure points to the 1970's and 1980's and the wooded areas of Eastern Texas. That is where these red hogs that had wattles (on either side of their face) were found and brought back to the public. Now, that is what we know ... there is some theories though. According to one theory (or maybe that is the way it is) the first Red Wattles came to the United States by way of a small island of the coast of Australia. The story goes that a wealthy Texan who liked to big game hunt had them shipped back to the U.S., but they never really took off because they were very lean in a time when lard was important to society. However we got them doesn't really matter, what is important is that we have them now.

Although Red Wattles are very minor breed in terms of numbers they are really starting to gain some traction with chefs and food critiques around the country. They even won a blind taste test going up against Berkshires, Duroc, a Tamworth/Chester cross, Ossabaw Island, and a Sam's Club special. It seems that they are starting to catch on all across the country, from Seattle to the Northeast.

So, Red Wattles are officially in the running for Stoneyfield. I would like to have a pigs that that are perfect for the family and an appeal for the white table cloth restaurants in the area. Do you want to throw any breeds into the mix?

**Today's Picture comes from Five Ponds Farm website. They are raising Red Wattles and have some for sale from time to time so make sure and check them out!**

9 comments:

PetLover said...

Very interesting! While my husband and I do not eat pork of any kind, we like heritage breeds and fully support individuals who are trying to save them. Please post pictures of your Red Wattles if you get them. Excellent blog! I will come back to read more later.

http://razorfarms.bravehost.com

sugarcreekfarm said...

We started out in pigs with a purebred Large Black boar. We crossed him with a York-Duroc-? cross sow. The meat was really, really good. Pink, well-marbled, tender. Also that boar's personality was great, very gentle.

When it came time for new breeding stock I wanted to get another LB boar and cross with the Chester White gilts. I think the CW's would add some length of frame to the cross and improve the size of the hams and chops.

But at the time it was just too cost-prohibitive to go and get another LB boar, so we went with a local Berkshire boar. He's a good boar - came from a farm that scores in the top 5 of Niman producers for meat quality. But every time we have some pork we say, "It's good, but it's not Large Black." So I hope someday to get to try out the LB/Chester cross that I think will be so fantastic :)

Ethan Book said...

Sugar Creek ... I have looked at Large Blacks quite a bit also. Did you find your original boar in Iowa? I would like to cross some of these heritage breeds, but of course that means that there has to be people out there keeping the heritage breeds going ... maybe that could be me?

sugarcreekfarm said...

Our boar originally came from Indiana, but we bought him as a 1-year-old from someone in Minnesota. Here's the website for someone in Missouri raising them.

Ideally I'd like to have a LB boar and both CW and LB sows. Have the crosses for meat sales, and the purebreds to sell as breeding stock.

There's also a company called Heritage Foods USA that markets cuts of pork from purebred LBs.

Ethan Book said...

Sugar Creek ... Thanks for the links about the Large Blacks. I can see that I need to do some serious research into that breed. From those links it sounds like a good breed for pasture raised hogs.

jack wilson said...

We have five red wattle sows and 2 boars, the first litters are arriving. We have 26 little ones on the ground with another due any day.
I am looking for a market for some of the pigs.

Ethan Book said...

Jack Wilson - Depending on where you are located I bet you could find some people looking for Red Wattles. I know Marian at Five Ponds Farm knows people looking for them. You can contact me at annexed (at) gmail.com ... of course take away the spaces and then put in the at symbol instead of (at).

BJ said...

Great idea! My sister and I just purchased 3 purebred Mulefoot hogs - 2 gilts & a boar as we also like the idea helpng to preserve a heritage breed (and raising our own meat!). I was tossing around possibly another breed also but since we will have somewhat limited space decided to stay with only one so no risk of crossing.

Hayford Peirce said...

I just got an order of Red Wattle chops from Heritage Foods and had a couple for dinner -- delicious, although not quite as "porky" as I had anticipated. Moist and tasty, however.

The info that came with the order said that the piggies originated on New Caledonia. In your blog, you say that they came from a "small island" off Australia. New Caledonia is a very *large* island, and is (or used to be) the world's greatest supplier of nickel. Just a minor detail, of course....

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