Monday, February 23, 2009

Dirt Hog :: Chapter 3 Book Report

Wow, I just realized that I'm reading chapter six in "Dirt Hog", but I have only written two chapter book reports. I have some catching up to do. But, that is okay because it seems like lately this has become the "Beginning Pig Farmer" blog. Really, that hasn't become our main focus ... rather it is just what I happen to be reading about a lot lately. I will admit though that after going through our first batch of pigs that I am beginning to think that they are the ideal animal for a beginning farmer like myself to start out with. Of course you can always go with chickens because of the low overhead, but if larger livestock is your goal pigs are a great way to start out.

Now, back to the book report ... Chapter three deals with selection of your pigs (covering everything from feeder pigs to gilts and sows to boars) and even has some general information about the different breeds out there. I have to admit that this chapter was a little overwhelming because was so much information and I once again realized how much of an art it is to be a very good livestock farmer. But, I did appreciate everything in the chapter even if it will take years for me to learn by trial and error.

As an aside, another thing that has popped into my mind as I'm writing this is that Kelly Klober (the author) seems to have a vast amount of knowledge when it comes to pigs. Much of that knowledge, I'm sure, has come from being around people that know the art of a selecting and raising a high quality swine herd. It is great to be able to have it written down in a book, but I will say that I wish I had a mentor like him around to show me and help me as I muck my way through the pig world!

Mr. Klober goes into great detail on some of the things that you need to look for when selecting pigs, especially pigs destined to become "range hogs". One area that he talks about being very important are the feet and legs. Those legs are going to be very important for a pig that will be outside and have the need and chance to move around. In a confinement setting it is not as big of an issue, so some breeding has taken away a good leg on each corner of the pig.

He even writes about the type of tail to look for when selecting. Mr. Klober says that large tail with the base well up on the body can be a good indicator of ham size and carcass length. This is the kind of knowledge that I'm talking about!

The chapter covers a lot of other information (too much to write about today) and then ends up with a short description of various breeds within the three major categories that he talks about a lot through out the book ... White Breeds, Red Breeds, and Black Breeds. It was nice to see the Hereford breed mentioned though because that is one that we are looking at closely now.


Rich said...

Why are you considering Hereford pigs?

I can think of a number of reasons that Herefords would be desirable. Since they originated in Iowa, it might be easier for you to find some available locally.

I think they were originally developed for a 'non-confinement' system they would be able to adapt to a pastured based system.

Plus, they would look 'cool' in combination with some Hereford cattle (so you would be able to supply a ready market selling breeding stock to Hereford cattle owners).

Ethan Book said...

Rich - We are looking at (and probably getting) Herefords for a few of those exact reasons you mention.

The fact that the breed was partially originated in Iowa played a role, along with the fact that they are on the ALBC list. I like the idea of keeping some good home-cooking genetics around because I'm guessing that farmers in the early half of the 20th century were looking to build a hog that would thrive in the type of environment that we are going to raise them in.

Unfortunately they aren't super easy to find, but we have located a few breeders in the state and will probably end up with a bred sow.

The other thing that you eluded to is the fact that they just kind of look cool! Looks aren't everything of course, but they do look good in advertising and are gaining a bit of a reputation for their taste from what I hear.

I am still very interested in Tamworths, but those are a bit more difficult to track down!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...