Growers and Shoats under Winter Whey Line
I live in Michigan and we purchase a pig once a year from the same farm each time. Its always been good but this year it is extremely fatty, almost inedible. We want to continue with this farm just wondering if it could have anything to do with what they are feeding them.
There are several possibilities:
1) The pig was older. Pigs on the standard corn/soy ration of commercial feed begin putting on fat after about 225 lbs live weight. If the pig was slaughtered at 300 lbs it may have been fattier than you’re used to for the smaller typical 250 lb finisher pig. If this is the case then typically you would have very large diameter pork chops. Personally, I like the richer flavor of older pigs better than younger pigs. With our pasture based diet we don’t get this fattening but I have seen it at the butcher.
2) Different genetics. All pigs fall along the spectrum of: lard pigs and bacon pigs. The lard pigs are short bodied, round and put on a lot of fat. The bacon pigs are long bodied and leaner. Perhaps in the past you got ‘bacon’ pigs and this time got a ‘lard’ pig. Does the farm have a consistent source of genetics or are they buying weaner piglets from difference sources. This could account for the difference.
3) Feed difference. If this pig was on a high calorie diet such as a lot of bread or corn then it could have packed on the pounds more than a previous pig that was on a more balanced diet. Since our pigs are on a pasture/hay + whey diet we don’t see much fat on them, only about 0.75″ to 1″ of back fat. But I know of someone who buys our piglets, thus the same genetics, and feeds them whole Jersey milk and they put on 4″ of back fat. The difference is the calories in their diet.
So what to do with the fat… Render it to lard. Pork lard is a wonderful cooking ingredient. Trim the fat off the meat and toss it in the freezer. When you have accumulated several pounds you can render it to make delicious lard for baking and cooking.
On a related note, I think it is a myth that “eating meat and fat causes high cholesterol.” We eat a lot of pork and we eat the fat as well as using our pork lard in our cooking but my son and wife just got their cholesterol tested and both were low. The reality is, like most things, it is far more complex. Our ancestors needed lots of calories and got lots of exercise. Modern people are still packing in the food but not getting as much exercise. This has created a fear of fat. A recent article says that low body weight is worse than high body weight and a little bit fat is actually good. They went on to say that people who are a little overweight are healthier and live longer. The Body Mass Index (BMI) needs revising to allow for this.
Outdoors: 12°F/-17°F Sunny
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Daily Spark: I’m on a vegetarian diet… they’re delicious.