Once a year I purchase 2 or 3 piglets to rear for meat.
For my own personal lifestyle I choose to purchase them in August/September time and then send them to slaughter in January/ February as I like to go away a lot during the spring and summer months which then means asking someone to feed them whilst I am away. This is my personal choice and others would say purchase them during the spring so you have them over the summer when it is warmer and hopefully not so muddy.
I like a pure breed such as gloucester old spot or british saddleback. I have tried cross breeds but from experience I think the meat is better on a pure breed.
So how do you not become attached I hear you say. Well here it is - when you buy these cute little weaners, they are just that - cute. They usually follow my kids around and the kids love to play with them. However they grow and they grow big and cumbersome. They are no longer fun to play with, the kids don't want to feed them any more, the older they get the more they dig up their pen, the more mischievous they become with their digging and generally they start to destroy anything in their path. This for me means its time to go to slaughter. Do I feel guilty - absolutely not. Anyone who eats meat should experience this. I pride myself on giving pigs a good life for the time are they here and I always eat every last bit of them. I do not expect a pig to sacrifice itself for me and my family and then not eat it because it is not the perfect shaped chop etc.
I get a huge sense of satisfaction from eating my own pork, knowing how it has been fed, it has been reared naturally with plenty of room to roam around. It has not been injected with chemicals and water to make it grow bigger, faster so it can end up on a supermarket shelf.
Are they easy to keep?
Yes - they are very easy to keep. You will need a few basic essentials.
- An area of garden/ land which is well fenced off with electric fencing.
- A registration to keep pigs from DEFRA How to register to keep pigs
- An arc for the pigs to sleep in.
- Hay/straw in the arc
- pig food - start with growers pellets and then progress onto pig nuts.
- Fresh water supply
Pigs need minimum attention - each day they will need fresh water and food. They can be fed vegetable waste (peelings and left overs etc). Do not feed pigs any meat leftovers.
As well as any left overs they should be fed pig food daily - start with growers pellets and then about two weeks before they go slaughter change to pig nuts.
It is important to get the amount of food right - you need enough fat on the meat to make it tasty but you do not want over fatty meat!
Choose a good abattoir who can offer you advise. I use Bakers of Nailsea bakers of nailsea website who also have a butcher on site which is great as I can talk to him in detail about my requirements.
I love the fact that my kids get involved in every part of this process. They feed the pigs when they are weaners, help load them into the trailer to go to slaughter, label the meat when it come backs and my really proud mum moment - my 8 year old helping me get the meat from the pigs head! He was not at all phased about the fact it was a pigs head!
What do I get from my pigs?
Last week I had my 2 british saddleback slaughtered and butchered. Here is what I got back:-
- Heads and trotters - I will make a pigs head terrine/pate with this.
- Offal - liver, hearts, kidneys - this will make fabulous faggots and offal is so good for you.
- Leg joints - great for that Sunday roast.
- Pork chops - great for a mid week roast or why not have chops with a different accompaniment.
- Sausages - really meaty sausages without additives and without all the "extra bits" the supermarkets add.
- Bacon - dry cured bacon - delicious.
- Gammon - roasted gammon joint, boiled gammon joint the choices are endless. I also cook up a gammon joint, thinly slice it, freeze it and there I have good quality ham for sandwiches etc. Again not the supermarket style ham with lots of added water.
- Belly joints - I love a good pork belly joint. Whilst this is quite fatty if cooked slowly and on a low heat for several hours this is absolutely gorgeous.
- Pork Ribs - great for a BBQ
|Pork Leg Joints & ribs|
|pigs head and trotters|
|Cooked pigs head|
|My 8 year old pulling meat from the head!|
|Meat from the head and trotters|
|Completed pigs head terrine.|
Keep watching my blog for more ideas and recipes.
Please comment if you have any questions!!