Piglets on Barley

Atrium Grower pigs

These little guys are eating spent barley which is left over from brewing beer at a local micro-brewery. What the brewery does is cook the barley to get the sugars. They then drain off the liquid which contains the sugar and toss out the left over barley. Or rather they toss it our way. It’s great stuff, high in protein and fiber. Smells great – I love barley soup. The pigs love it too – although theirs is lamb free, just barley! These little guys are a bit below the ideal size to start eating barley as it is a course feed that they do not digest as easily as larger pigs do.

These grower pigs are a few of the weaners from Blackie, Flo and Petra. There are also three older grower pigs, off to the right, from another litter – thus the size difference.

Outdoors: 24°F/13°F Blue skies sunny
Farm House: 61°F/39°F
Tiny Cottage: 65°F/53°F 81% Humidity

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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6 Responses to Piglets on Barley

  1. Hey! I found something today and immediately thought of your farm:

    The Small Farmers Higher Standards and Welfare Equals Fairer Prices Bacon News Article

    Pigs Are Worth It Website

    And the new pop sensation “Stand by Your Ham!”

  2. Sasha says:

    Hi Walter,

    You seem to feed your pigs a variety of food that was originally for human consumption. Do you feed them table scraps as well? I was on one list and the consensus seemed to be that feeding scraps to pigs was a surefire way of causing disease. This never made any sense to me. When I was in the 8th grade in Hawaii, farmers would bid for the right to collect the lunch garbage from my school which was given to their pigs.

    I am curious about this because I am thinking of raising one pig to share with some friends. We give most of our table scraps to the chickens who have never seemed to have any problems from them. If we do get a pig, do you think I could keep him with our goats?

  3. Sasha, No we don’t feed any table scraps. Those are what are refered to as post-consumer wastes, things that have had direct or indirect contact with people and could have picked up diseases that the pigs might get. Pigs are a able to get some diseases in common with people. Additionally there might be undercooked meat in them which could transmit trichinosis. For these reasons we never feed table scraps or post-consumer wastes to pigs.

    So, why you are wondering, didn’t the pigs of farmers in Hawaii that you knew have problems? First of all they might be cooking the post-consumer wastes. If that is done properly it will kill diseases. But that takes a lot of energy to cook the food and is very labor intensive.

    Or, they might just have been lucky.

    Myself, I would rather not take the risk so we only feed whey, cheese, milk, boiled barley and other things that are what are termed pre-consumer wastes, that is they didn’t come from people’s plates. For this reason we don’t collect wastes from restaurants although it has been offered.

    On your idea of raising a pig with friends, go for it. They’re a lot of fun, hardy and easy to do. I would suggest doing several pigs as it is the same effort and they do better in groups. A good book to start with is “Small Scale Pig Raising” by Dirk van Loon. Also see this post: Keeping a Pig for Meat.

    On the goats, we keep our sheep and pigs together so I suspect your goats would do fine with the pigs too.

  4. baringapark says:

    Hi Walter

    I haven’t visited your blog in a very long time. I am so glad I found you again!

    I run free-range (pastured) Large Black pigs here in Australia. I sell the pork at local Farmers’ Markets.

    We grow lucerne for the pigs and supplement with a grain pellet and minerals.

    I wonder if you can advise me? We occassionally get a pig, which upon butchering, has very moist, almost ‘sloppy’ meat. The opposite to firm I guess. (The Berkshires we have had were very firm in the flesh.)

    Any ideas why this happens? They are all fed the same diet and it is of high quality. Doesn’t seem to affect the taste, but does mean I cannot make forequarter chops for example.

    thanks so much


  5. Elizabeth, that sounds like pale soft exudative (PSE) pork. It is caused by a combination of genetics and stress around slaughter time. You can breed out the gene. A lot of research has been done on this topic. See here for lots of google links to the topic.

  6. baringapark says:

    Thankyou Walter for the excellent links. This has been very enlightening reading and does suggest our pigs may becoming stressed prior to slaughter. Unfortunately, due to regulations, we have to have them processed by a registered abattoir if we are to sell the meat. We can only continue to raise our pigs in a calm and loving environment, and hope that this assists them in their last minutes.


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