Our family farming history began with my great-great-... (nine generations ago) grandfather Johannes. He, his wife and three children left Saxony, Germany, on April 20, 1734, aboard the ship St. Andrew, mastered by Capt. John Stedman. They landed at Philadelphia on Sept. 22 and eventually settled our family’s first "New World" farm near Society Run in Frederick Township, Montgomery County, Pa., in 1743. Pig farming was our family’s specialty until the mid 1950s. A lot has changed since then. Our BQA cow–calf operation includes 100% grass-fed registered Red Angus, Hereford and purebred Beefalo; 30 to 35 pastured Duroc and Spot pigs; 100 Freedom Ranger broilers; and 90 Golden Comet and Buff Orpington layers. We organically maintain 80 acres, comprising 15 acres in rotational pastures, 15 acres in tillable cropland, and alfalfa/mixed grass hay on the balance. We have never used chemical pesticides or herbicides on our pastures or hay fields. We are not a "certified" organic farming operation, but we prefer the natural/organic approach to help promote sustainability.
Aug 20, 2010
Ever Try "Forest-Fed Pork"?
Prior to 1940, farmers turning their pigs out into the wooded areas of their farms in the Southeastern part of this country was a very common practice. In the winter the pigs were than brought back to the farm "proper" and fed left-over corn stalks and other crop residues. The hardwood species of tree’s such as the mighty oaks and chestnuts throughout the Appalachian region provided nut’s which pig’s love, and fortunately do very well on. Pigs are still fed chestnuts but by a much smaller percentage of producers, and those pigs that are, are reported by consumers to be the sweetest tasting pork they’ve ever had. The tall broad branched Chestnut tree’s also provided much needed shade during the sweltering heat of the summer. Pig’s fed acorns are very low in saturated fat and high in healthy Oleic Acid, which is another advantage for producers and consumers alike. In Spain this type of pork sell’s for up to $40 per pound!! Unfortunately you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone in this country willing to pay $15 per pound for healthy Pork. Sorry to burst your bubble, but don’t let the prior mentioned statistics burst your bubble.
If you’ve seen the movie FOOD INC., than you know who Virginia farmer Joel Salatin is. He is the best example of a sustainable farmer that I can think of. If you ever have the time to hear him speak or visit his farm DO IT! You’ll be glad you did. Joel say’s that pigs are excellent at taking recently logged forest land and transforming it into lush pasture. He also stated that pig’s love the roots and bark of left-over saplings and will eat the left behind roots and back from cut trees. But you need to get them out there as soon as possible, because pigs are "ground oriented", he stated that they will ignore anything over 24" high. Joel’s oldest pig pastures have produced a mixture of perennial ryegrass & crabgrass. He has no idea where the seeds came from because he didn’t seed the pastures with those varieties. And those pig pastures are the only pastures on his sprawling Virginia farm with perennial ryegrass.
So if you have land that has been logged recently and in most cases the pitch of land is much steeper than you would like to try and mow with your brush hog & tractor, try a forest hog! Berkshires, Hampshires, Yorkshires and our favorites DUROC PIGS, are best suited for this kind of land clearing. Tamworth pig’s that we spoke about a few weeks ago are not because they don’t root. Keep the Tamworth’s on pastures you want to keep looking pretty. They graze well and keep your pastures well groomed. I still haven’t been able to find a percentage of diet intake a Tamworth can derive strictly on pasture. But just as with chickens and cattle, fresh grass is the important ingredient to create that special flavor.