Oink Oink Oink
RED WATTLE HOGS
There's a lot we could say about hogs. They're one of the greatest creatures on a farm, in our humble opinion. They're smart, sweet, have the ability to turn almost anything into bacon, reproduce well, and their rooting behavior can help restore pastures when rotated through appropriately.
Red Wattle Hogs are considered a Premium quality pork product, right up there with Mangalitsa. Our family prefers the taste and finds store bought bacon severely lacking in flavor, even on the high-quality, high-cost end of store products.
We raise our hogs for meat and continuation of the breed's conservation and heritage.
Considerations & Care
What to Expect
Pigs will uproot any area you give them, making holes under their enclosure fence, breaking, lifting or moving pieces of their enclosure as well as making mud wallows for their soaking pleasure. They can be a real pain sometimes, mainly because of their strength and desires. A pig who escapes its pen overnight is a pig who you'll find the next morning has broken your water spigots, ate all your strawberry plants roots and all, has decimated the garden and created mud wallows amongst the newly leaking/broken water spigots. Need we say more?
Now with all that in mind, you'll want to plan your pig enclosure like a little fortress. Meaning, if you don't want things destroyed and animals running around willy-nilly, you need to build a pen that's planned out well. We really like the hog panels from Tractor Supply or a similar local outfitter, with t-posts and even a cemented in area when it comes to keeping them in an enclosure versus out on pasture. With pasture, we recommend training from a young age to hot wire so you can move them frequently so they add benefit to the pasture and don't stay in one space too long so as to cause damage.
Pigs kept on pasture are less likely to need worming, however a fecal test will always tell you what the load is and give you information to act accordingly. Pigs kept in a confined space or pen will be more likely to carry a higher worm load. Also, when buying piglets, we would suggest worming any new animal you bring onto your farm or homestead, from our own personal experiences and observation as a buyer. Make sure to follow guidelines for withdrawal periods if you intend to butcher post worming to make sure the meat is safe for consumption.
Pigs will need a clean water source free of feces and debris, we like the nipple waters that can be attached to a pipe connected to your water, or to a freestanding water cube or barrel.
Diet may be free-fed when growing for meat, but should perhaps be restricted with females being raised for breeding. As is the case with many livestock species, fatty female animals are less desirable as breeders due to fat surrounding their internal female parts. A high quality hog feed should be considered in addition to small amounts of hog-safe leftover produce or pasture consumption percentage. Sows may take a different diet than grower hogs. Hogs will take a LOT of food, so be prepared for the expense upfront depending on how many you're raising and the current costs of feed.
As an example, when we started with hogs pre-Covid, feed was $10.49/bag. Last receipt was double this amount per bag. Some things you can do to lower your hog's feed bill:
-Buying feed in bulk at a discounted rate (requires good storage)
-Raising you own chickens and feeding excess eggs to the hogs
-Raising your own vegetables and feeding the hogs from your garden
Hogs may eat what they can catch. This includes baby goats and chickens if they cross pathes. They are nature's omnivores and when taking things into consideration it may even help to think of them as 'predators' when planning your set-up for them to prevent mishaps. We've had some hogs here who won't touch a live chicken but love a chicken carcass, and other hogs have actively hunted chickens that flew into their pen. Children should never be left unattended with larger hogs, and even piglets can deliver a nasty bite with very sharp teeth. It's important to remember no matter how 'sweet' or friendly an animal is to practice safe animal handling techniques and care.
Most of hogs by the time they hit about 250lbs have all become friendly and interested in humans. They come up for ear rubs, on the soft skin behind their ears. We train all our hogs through positive reinforcement and any time we work with them for safe handling behaviors. For instance, our personal opinion is it's never appropriate to allow a hog to stand up on a person. Behaviors that are 'cute' or inconsequential when they're small can become dangerous when working with a 300, 600, 900 or 1200 pound animal.