Leaving comments here is a a great way to reach me with questions. No posts are too old – one of the wonderful things about the internet. I read all comments because every comment is emailed to me and only shows on the blog after I approve it to cut out the spam.
Best Way to Reach Us:
Comments & Questions: Here on the blog in the comments of any page.
CSA’s, Retail Orders, Roaster Pigs, Piglets, Breeders & other things to Walter:
Phone is not a good way to reach us as we are typically outside. It is also very hard to understand people’s messages and you might not get a call back if we can’t understand your phone number on the answering machine. I won’t call back on “how to raise” or “how to vet” a pig questions – I’m not a vet, I don’t do phone tech support for pigs and I don’t like talking on the phone. Please use email or blog comments for questions. I’m really serious about this.
Retail Direct: We do sell directly to individuals – See the Product menu above. We do not have a farm stand or store front so there is no option of coming to the farm to browse what is available in the freezer. We sell out completely most weeks so there is very little meat in the cooler – we keep most of our stock on the hoof in the fields. If you’re looking to buy in small quantities please visit the many fine stores that carry our products. Also see the Literature page for our brochure, order form and other information. To get the best price, buy through the CSA, as a Whole Pig or consider the Farmer’s Basket or other box specials.
Wholesale Direct: We primarily sell wholesale through local stores and restaurants throughout Vermont and some in New Hampshire. If you would like to carry our products please see the Wholesale page in the Products menu.
Questions: Feel free to leave questions on the various blog posts. It is fine to leave questions in comments on old posts that are relevant to your question or if you’re not sure where then simply use the FAQ. By leaving questions in blog comments the information gets shared with others who will have the same questions. This benefits everyone. Explore the search function in the upper right hand column, the tag cloud a bit lower in the right column, the list of favorite posts, most commented posts and such. Note that I devote more effort to questions that get asked on the blog than to questions that are emailed to me because more people will benefit from the answers. Sometimes an answer will get turned into an entire post. Share the knowledge. Note that I am not a phone person – please use comments or email.
Farm Tours & Visits: If you come to the farm to pickup pigs or meat we can give you the quick driveway tour but we’re not setup to do farm tours, seminars, classes, internships, mentoring, workshops or agritourism. My blog is how I share what we do. Head on over to our Farm page and watch the eight minute video tour of our farm and butcher shop. You’ll get to virtually sit in the field and have a pig snuffle your nose. On my blog you’ll find approximately 2,500 articles and over 13,000 photographs from our family, farm, animals and Vermont through the seasons – more than you could ever seen in a physical tour plus it saves gas! Be sure to also read the over 25,000 comments at the ends of articles which contain many thousands of questions and answers. On the blog you’ll see our family, animals and farm from all the seasons of the year. You can leave comments and ask questions on all the posts back to 2005 – I read all comments and answer questions. Check out the various Virtual Tour posts in particular. Also see the search box, tag cloud and favorite articles lists in the right column. Want to pet farm animals? Visit Shelburne Farms in the Burlington, Vermont area or Friendly Farm in Dublin, NH for great family fun. They are setup for animal petting and such. They have tame animals that are used to being handled by visitors and will make for a wonderful family outing. If you desperately want a driveway tour then buy a pig of meat.
Internships: We’re not setup to do internships or apprenticeships. There are many how-to articles on our Farm Blog that explain how we do things. Look in the right hand column on the blog for a list of favorite articles. If you’re interested in raising pigs check out the discussion groups on Yahoo: Pastured Pork and Facebook: Pastured Pigs for Meat and Profit, the HomesteadingToday Pigs Forum and the excellent book “Small Scale Pig Raising” by Dirk Van Loon which was recently updated in 2014. [Froogle, Amazon]* Another book I sometimes suggest is “Nontraditional Feed Sources for Use in Swine Production” by P.A. Thacker & R.N. Kirkwood. If you’re interested in interning then visit WWOOF and find out about opportunities around the world.
Dogs should not be brought to the farm. Realize we have a large pack of large livestock guardian dogs. They might think your dog is a threat to our livestock and eat your pet – No kidding. Our dogs normally and naturally kill and eat coyotes and other predators. Your dog will look like a coyote from their perspective. Please do not even bring a dog and leave it in your car as our dogs will likely jump up on your car to investigate and they have sharp, hard claws that will scratch your car’s paint. Best to leave your dog at home.
Well behaved children are welcome when you visit to pickup your pigs or meat but we do not have a playground and farm’s are not “child safe” places. There are dangerous things on a farm so children should stick close to the adults and not wander.
Phone is not a good way to reach us as we are generally outside in the fields or woods and we go to bed early. Please do not call after 7 pm even to leave a message. The phone is for sales only – email the way to ask questions. In voice mail is very hard to understand people’s messages at times, especially if you’re calling on a cellphone, and you won’t get a call back if we can’t understand your phone number on the answering machine. If you have a question about ordering you can call at four-three-nine sixty-four sixty-two in Vermont (area code 802) from 12 noon to 1 pm or 5 pm to 6 pm on Monday, Tuesday or Saturday. I realize many people enjoy chatting on the phone but I really don’t – I’m just not a phone person. Email is much better than phone since I am usually outside on the farm, in the forest or cutting meat in the butcher shop.
I hope you enjoy my blog, a taste of farm and family life in the mountains of Vermont. Perhaps if you are close you’ll be able to also enjoy our pork through local stores and restaurants as well as buying directly from use through our CSA, roasters, live piglets or other pork products. We enjoy sharing the bounty of our land as well as what we have learned over the decades.
Buy Locally, Think Globally, Do Good, Live Well & Prosper.
Sugar Mountain Farm, LLC
252 Riddle Pond Road
West Topsham, VT 05086
Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT)
Vermont Fresh Network,
The Vermont Grass Farmers’ Association,
and a NoWeirdStuff.org farm.
Vermont Dept of Agriculture Wholesale & Retail Licenses
USDA Inspected & Slaughtered
*Note that I have no affiliation with the book sellers. These are just search patterns that generally will find used copies of excellent books for you.
I know you’re just launching on wordpress, but I have a request.
I am currently starting your blog from the beginning. When I go to an archived month, it only shows 3 exerpt posts at a time, starting from most recent. In order to read chronologically, I have to click “older posts” a bunch of times in order to get to the beginning of the month.
Since they’re exerpts, I think it would be fine if you listed the entire month or at least half a month per page on the archives. It would sure make catching up on your blog a lot easier. :)
Hi I have two tea cup pigs and they are brother and sister. I was wondering if they can breed and it be safe for the offspring. I don’t want to castrate my boar but I will if I have to.
If both of them are of sound body and good conformation with no signs of bad recessive traits then go ahead and try and breed them. You are unlikely to get monsters. With each generation cull the least and breed only the best of the best. We breed about 5% of the females and only about 0.5% of the males. The rest go to market. We need to sell pork every week. The larger your pool of genetics and the harder you select the better you’ll do with the breeding. In time you can improve the breed. It takes years but is fun work.
Hello, I am a neo-Luddite hoping I’m doing this semi-correctly. I have intermittently followed your blog for several years and appreciate what you are up to. I probably should be leaving this on the page about pigs tilling gardens. I thought this was brilliant and bought my first two piglets two years ago and rotated them thru my newly established garden that fall, planting the following spring. They did a beautiful job- end of story I thought.
Now my children are passing roundworms and I’m freaking out a bit. We have always picked carrots, wiped them on our jeans and chowed down. Now it seems possible we were mainlining parasites. I’m now reading that roundworm eggs can persist for up to ten years in soil and I hate to abandon this spot as I’ve invested a lot in the soil (compost, mineral amendments, etc.) I’m having trouble finding info on this, but I’m hopeful that persistence is shorter in New England’s climate. I’m thinking I should be de-worming the bipeds along with the quads. I’d very much welcome your perspective on this entire debacle. I know intestinal parasites in one’s children are not commonly discussed, but is this something you have experienced thru the years? Thanks!
Round worms and other parasites are common in the country side soil and they were likely there prior to the pigs. The winter cold tends to break parasite life cycles. I had worms as a kid and my parents dewormed me. I’ve never seen any signs of worms in our kids, or the adults in our family here although we have hundreds of pigs, but we eat a lot of garlic and hot spices in our cooking so that may be kill off the worms. If you have them, kill them and perhaps boost the garlic and hot spices in your cooking as well as a preventative. See Worms Au Natural for some more thoughts. Another option is to go with English style cooking and boil everything. :)
As to gardens after pigs, what I do is the first year after pigs I tend to grow high crops for our own consumption. e.g., broccoli, corn, sunflowers, peas, beans, etc. Then in later years low crops and root crops last.
The other thing is we’re in a cold climate and have high copper levels in our soil both of which inhibit many parasites.
I had worms as a child and have never been around pigs…horses, dogs, cats but not pigs. My parents dewormed us kids and themselves with a 7 day regime as prescribed by the doctor.
I have since used Liquid Strongid T on myself as did my daughter when she returned from her tour in Afghanistan with the military.
I’m not found of hot & spicy or raw garlic.. I do however use garlic when cooking but I would think it would be the raw garlic that would be desireable for the natural worming effect…
What I’ve read and been told by a vet is that it is the sulfur compounds in the garlic which are responsible for the anti-parasitic action. Brassicas, another thing both we and our pigs eat a lot of, also are high in sulfur. Some people are not fond of sulfur in their food. For us, cabbage is our winter lettuce so we eat quite a bit as well as eating a lot of broccoli and other brassica family vegetables year round. Could just be a coincidence though. I have not done controlled tests with the brassicas – something I did do with the garlic powder.
Hi. I have a question. How old are female pigs able to still have piglets?
I find that their fertility fades around seven to nine years – varies with the sow. See the article Old Sow Piglets.
I’m just barely setting up the blog on WordPress. In the old one it did what you ask and in time I’ll make WordPress 3.0 do that too. It will be a while as WordPress 3.0 hasn’t actually been officially released, I’m using a Beta version, and I’m not yet even on my normal domain for the blog, I’m using a test domain so as to not interfere with my original blog install and links. I just switched it from summary to full posts so that will help.
Enjoy the back posts.
Sorry to be off topic but I just wanted to say that Walter writes better than most authors I’ve read. It’s a pure joy to read, what with the great mix of incredibly valuable, well thought out info and the great turn of phrase and bon mots.
You really ought to get all this stuff into some books, Walter. Not that I want to see you too wealthy – you might chuck the farming and go live on a beach.
Naaaaaaaaa, not a chance!
I was wondering if you could give some guidance on choosing which of your female pigs to keep for breeding. Someone told me that if you count the number of teats, that corresponds to their litter size. Is that true? Do you base it on this? Their disposition? Other attributes?
Thanks for any advice you can give!
Kathy, Yes, teat count is definitely one of the things to consider when selecting breeders. Teats on a boar really do matter as it is an indication of how his daughters will produce, just like teats on a sow. We look for even, well developed, large numbers of teats. All of our breeders have at least 14 teats and some have 16. More teats means more capacity to provide milk although how large the breasts develop also makes a difference. Temperament is another very important characteristic for us, we want calm gentle animals. Marbling (as seen in the offspring) is important. Strong legs and feet, symmetry of body, strong muscle development, length, ham and shoulder size, rate of growth (days to finisher size) are also key characteristics to consider. Once the gilt has her first litter and becomes a sow you’ll get to see what her piglets look like and that then becomes a factor in deciding to keep her (how she milks, mothers, farrows, how big the piglets wean, how many, etc).
I found your blog in searching for some way to create something large but lightweight with a semi-smooth concrete look. To be specific I’m trying to make a decorative sphere of about 2 ft diameter. I was thinking of using a 24in. vinyl sport ball as a mold. If I use one of those hypertufa recipes I think it will still be way too heavy for me to lift and plop onto my coffee table. (no need for it to be waterproof though.)
I saw that you have experimented with a super light weight foamy type of concrete mix and I think this would be perfect. Do you have a homemade recipe that would fill the bill? I’ve never done anything like this so I’m really unfamiliar with some of the ingredients you mentioned in your blog or where to buy stuff like that too. Thanks for any help, ~Kelly
It will be heavy at that size. I have played with using styrofoam beads, foam peanuts, air entrainment and such as described on my blog post here. You’ll need to play with it. Soap helps to break the surface tension on the beads. I would suggest a fiber cement and possibly ferro cement. You might want to go with fiberglass instead.
take a balloon and blow it up. then use plaster of Paris on it. is one option. another is modeling clay. but you will need a big oven or kiln.
Hi Walter…I love your blog and I hope you recieve this mail. My sow farrowed 2 weeks ago and one of her pigs has a fluid filled lump on her hind right leg. The best way I can describe it is like a small water balloon or, excuse this, breast implant. She does not appear in pain and is behaving normally, I think.(this is our first birth experience). The vet has said it is a cyst and to leave it. I am worried that it is an abcess and should be drained. it seems as though it is getting bigger. have you had any experience with such a thing. Any insight would be great. Thanks!
It does sound like she got a breast implant. The doctor may have missed in the placement… :)
Seriously though, it sounds like a fluid filled cyst. I would wipe it down with iodine or something to clean it and then lance it with a clean scalpel or razor blade. I have had pigs where I didn’t do this and they were fine, others I took care of it. See Cystine. She was covered in these but they went away and by the time she was full size she looked absolutely normal. Not issues at slaughter. In either case, I’m incline to drain it.
Your blog has been extremely helpful over the past few months. Thank you for taking the time to write.
I have two gilts and a barrow. They all appear very healthy: they run around, eat normally, their poop looks healthy, and they dive right in to rooting up a new spot of land. However, one of the gilts started shaking/trembling a couple of weeks ago and I don’t understand what it could be. I have asked many others who have raised pigs and they are stumped. As I said, she acts and looks completely healthy other than the shaking. It almost looks like she is shivering but she does it on warm, sunny days in fresh, dry pasture as well. Please let me know your thoughts on this.
Thank you for your time,
The two things that come to mind immediately are:
Salt sickness – dehydration or a lack of access to water and too much salt followed by free access to water can cause the brain to swell causing fits. If you’re feeding dairy this is something you have to watch out for. Not good news. Maybe she’ll get through it if it isn’t too bad. First sign is a tilting of the head, which looks like they might have something in their ear. Later they walk in a circle and end up leaning against something or in a corner. Shivering is common. Continue to give limited amounts of water to baby her through it or harvest her now as a roaster or what ever size she is. [update: we have had good success with butt watering which is much easier than trying to put the water in via the mouth. A drencher is useful for this.]
Toxic plants – in the fall especially some plants become more toxic and the available forage decreases so animals are more likely to consume something toxic. Making sure she has plenty of good food, removing toxics are things that help. For the immediate, penning her up for a few days with good food may solve the problem and if that works it indicates this was the issue.
Shaky Pig Syndrome is generally an inner ear problem and maybe accompanied by some spinal deformities. They generally get better as they get older. They do not like loud noises as it sends them into fits of shakiness. So they need a quite place to grow.
Of course there are other neurological reasons behind shakiness in a pig such as the salt poisoning (which is actually a lack of water as in they are dehydrated) or toxic weeds.
Sometimes if they spike a high fever from ‘whatever’ these little pigs can get for ‘whatever’ reason their brains will swell creating pressure in their cranium. This too will cause the Shaky Pig Syndrome.
For this type of scenario & salt poisoning I use Dexamethasone in a one time high dose. Like a 5 pound piglet would get 1/2 ml IM and a 40 or 50 pound pig would get 5 ml in two different injection sites.. If it is plant toxicity 10 ml of a B Complex SubQ in various sites can help with clearing the pig of the toxins. This treatment also will help those show pigs who have been on the high powered show feed diet when they suddenly start flailing around because of too much vit/min buildup (some of which are not water soluble) 10 to 20 ml of B Complex (SubQ several sites) will snap them right out of this funk.
If you do give her some Dexamethasone it won’t hurt her if she just has the inner ear problem causing the shakiness. But if the problem is because of swelling in the brain then it could help her. Do not give Dex to pregnant things as it could induce labor. In the last 10 years I have had all 3 senario’s to deal with and even with the inner ear problem one the Dex helped.
Whatever you do consult a vet first for correct dosage for the weight of your pig.
Great blog. Thank you for all the farm tips. THey have been a big help in getting our homestead going.
Hi Walter! A friend of mine connected my blog to her page, and when I went there I saw your blog & remembered your name! How have you been?
Good. We’ve been working on building our butcher shop. It was doing the research for slaughter years ago that had led meat to learn about the USDA’s plans for NAIS.
I had a question about pasture raised pork. We are an organic dairy farm in Western P.A. and we also raise organic beef on pasture. The flavor of the beef is significantly better when raised on pasture but you do sacrifice some of the tenderness. We also raise Berkshire pigs and some of the folks that I have spoken to about pasture raising them have said that I will not get the increase in flavor as much as the beef but I will get the loss of tenderness. Have you found that to be the case?
We raise our pigs on a combination of pasture/hay and dairy. See here for details on diet and such. We have no problem with toughness. The meat is juicy and tender. Additionally, the dairy gives the fat a slightly sweet flavor – delicious.
Quick question I would assume you have an answer to. Just speaking to friends, they have expressed an interest in purchasing pork from me when the pig are large enough to slaughter. I know I can home slaughter for my own use. Obviously in order to sell “pork”, it must be inspected and processed by a USDA approved facility. Is it allowable for me to sell a live animal and then help the customer to slaughter and process the animal as long as they are the end user of the meat? This would avoid the additional cost of transport to a slaughterhouse as well as the cost for slaughter and processing.
Did you ever notice that slaughter and laughter are only differ by 1 letter? The English language sure is funny sometimes.
Thanks again for all you help.
-Larry Kingman AZ
To sell it one must get it state or USDA inspected in most locations in the United States. I don’t know of any exemptions. There is an exemption that they are working on in Vermont for on-farm slaughter. It passed but I do not think it is fully implemented yet. Check with the Arizona meat inspection department or department of agriculture in your state for details at your state level. I would avoid playing in the grey areas. It just isn’t worth the risks.
I had noticed that close spelling on laughter. There are a lot of funny ones like that. Then there are names. The head of Fish and Wildlife in Vermont was John Buck. In NH the governor is John Lynch – NH is the last state where capital punishment is by hanging. Ironies.
Just wanted to let you know that I used some of your info on a post that I wrote about m quest to eat a whole pig in 2011.
Next time I’m up your way, I’d love to stop by!
You have a great site, thanks for the pork cut chart! We are still quite new to the processing part of pig and pork production, I just built a smoker and did a few pieces the other day. They came out great but, I wonder if you may have some tips on better smoking practices?
Colin, I’ve never smoked but someday I would like to learn.
Please help, I live in IL and am interested in purchasing a 1/2 or maybe 1/4 of a pig. I was wondering do you ship to IL? If not do you know anyone in my area that you would recommend.
Yes, we do ship. See the Order Form on the literature page.
Hi Walter & Holly,
I just happened upon your site, and wanted to say thank you.
I don’t eat any meat, and haven’t for the past 22 years (of my 37). Most of my friends and family do, however, and I have no real issue with others eating meat. My sadness and disgust arrises from the most commonly used methods of raising/slaughtering ‘feed animals’ so, naturally, it is SO wonderful to see farmers who are humanely raising their animals. I just wanted to let you know (as hopefully others have) that there are those who don’t eat meat who genuinely appreciate what you are doing within the industry. I’m sure it can be challenging. Thanks, also, for blogging about it and so helping to educate.
Curiosity is driving me to contact you. I found your site after viewing this article
and then wondering if a similar zero waste initiative could get a foothold within Central Vermont. Would your farm be interested in food scraps for your pigs? If so, how many pounds could you use?
Who knows what could happen? It seems like it could be a win-win for everyone.
We currently work with several local businesses taking their “wastes” which are actually very good food for livestock. I would be interested in more. We do have to be careful of a few things such as we can’t take post-consumer wastes because of disease issues – everything must be pre-consumer wastes. An example of pre-consumer wastes is the whey we get from the local cheese maker. An example of post-consumer wastes that we had to decline is plate scrapings from a local school cafeteria. We also have to watch out for foreign objects such as broken glass and the like can not be in the feed or it could hurt the animals.
As to how many pounds could we use? Not sure. Currently our animals primarily eat pasture/hay and whey. They are nowhere near satiated with the the other treats they get like the apple pomace, boiled barley and occasional treat of bread. With the number of pigs we have now they could probably eat about 1,000 lbs a day as a rough guestimate. Transportation becomes the other issue.
Hi Walter, I’m interested in raising pastured pigs at our Ontario farm, and so all your posts about dealing with winter has been extremely helpful. What about winter fencing? Our electric fencing gets buried in snow.
To a very large degree the snow itself is our winter fencing. Alternatively use stock panel or pallets with a hot wire inside if you have a small area. Another trick is turning off the lower lines as they become snow covered so they don’t leak electricity and lower the fence voltage. During the real cold of winter there isn’t much conductivity in the snow but come spring, like right now, where the lower wires are in wet snow this becomes a bigger issue.
HI, I am in the Glover/Derby part of vermont. Is there any one that does AI for sows in the area? I have 3 that I want to breed very soon. Im looking for an AI service , such as Select Sires does for cows. Thank You
I don’t know of anyone in New England doing AI for sows. I would ask the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. They may have some leads. I have read that it is fairly easy once you learn to spot the heat.
Hi, we were wondering if you would or could sell some semen? we are caught in a tight spot. Our sows are going into heat this week and we need to get them bred. Another option, is if you know someone that does AI for sows in the area. My sows are in Glover Vt. We are just trying to find someone in a hurry. My wife has done AI alot in the past, so we just need some semen and straws or someone to just go and do it for us. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank You
We don’t sell semen. Interesting idea but I’m not sure if I want to milk boars… :) I’ve read about it with bulls in Jame’s Harriet’s All Creatures Great and Small… I don’t know of a local source. We sell breeding boars. You could let them do their job. Wait until you’re sure and then eat them if you don’t want to keep them. People are very happy with our boars. See here.
Hello, I have been an avid follower of your blog for several years now. The information and lifestyle you share is amazing. In early winter we harvested our first meat from the small tamworth herd we keep. We have eaten most of the meat, save the bacon, which I have not yet cured, but wish to do so shortly. I have bought a couple books on smoking meats and making sausages. Have you any recipes or methods of curing or smoking the bacon or sausages that you would be willing to share?
Try this home recipe as a brine for hams and bacon.
I am new to pigs. I have 2 beautiful sows who have farrowed once about 10 wks ago. We weaned at about 8 wks. They are sisters and have always been together, in 16 ft pens. On dirt. One morning one of them had (and still does) a limp tail. I don’t think they were docked what so ever. It looked like she had 2 teeth marks, one on either side of her tail just above the base. Her anus also looks “loose” and protrudes a little as well as her vagina. I thought she might be in heat and the other sow bothered her. They have been seperated ever since (about a week-10 days). The vagina is still “open” and loose looking. Is this prolapse?? We have touched her and she does not seem to be in pain. There is no crowding and plenty of water.
Biting could cause prolapse or prolapse could cause another pig to investigate and bite. Hard to know now. If she is prolapsing I would slaughter her. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
I thought that I would let you know what is happening with our sow. She keeps switching between looking better and back again. Now that enough time has gone by I can clearly see that she has been somehow injured about 4 to 6 inches above her tail. Instead of having her beautiful big fat round butt, it drops off like her spine is gone and then proceeds to her tail which is still limp. I think she may have suffered a spinal injury. I believe she has been bred, and am hoping for the best, I love her so and her piglets were amazing. Maybe a few of you could put SunShine on your prayer list!!! Thanks, Wendy
I saw that you built your own home for a very good price. I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions about it, as I plan on the same type of project. I am merely twenty-one and could use all the wisdom I can get. ~ Andrew.
Fire away with questions. Do read the Tiny Cottage posts. You can leave questions on the appropriate posts – I read all comments and respond to questions. If you’re not sure where to put a question put it on the main cottage page. To get to the first post about the cottage go here and then you can move forward to newer posts.
I accidentally found your site. I love your pigs. We had cows growing up here in California in the central valley. I love that you treat your animals with respect and dignity.
i just found this website and i wanted to know how can I purchase a pig!
Depending on what type of pig you’re looking for check out the following pages:
CSA Pigs as Quarter pigs, Half pigs, Whole pigs and a Decade-of-Pork.
Pork in all its glory.
Piglets to raise yourself.
Breeders to start or improve your own herd – bred gilts & boars.
Roasters for roaster and suckling pigs.
If you’re looking for a pet pig then I strongly suggest reading these posts about pet pigs. We raise farm pigs which get very large, eat a lot of food and produce a lot of manure. Great for a a farm but not so great as a house pet.
Hi, I was wondering where I could find a Pork / Cow butcher style book / pulldown (basically pictures and explainations for the cuts of meat)
-I had a dream that this would be a school-style wall pulldown or poster. :)
You might be interested in The Meat Buyers Guide : Meat, Lamb, Veal, Pork and Poultry which is put out by NAMP North American Meat Processors Association. For a short cut see my own chart which you’ll find on our Literature page.
Hi, Wonderful site with tons of great information. We have raised a few pigs at a time for a couple years. We are thinking about getting into breeding and raising on pasture. If we don’t have access to dairy would grain be a good supplement? Do you have problems with coyotes or raccoons with the little piglets running around on pasture? We had some chickens that the raccoons got to in the barn. We have had trouble with coyotes getting lambs in the past also. We currently raise beef on pasture and hay. Do you know if pigs and cows would be good together on same pasture?
Grain works. The grain feeding of pigs developed as a way of transporting the food value that was being produced in the plains states to the cities. They put the grain into the pigs and make hams & bacon to get a value added product.
We don’t have a problem with predators because we have a pack of livestock guardian herding dogs. They’re pretty emphatic to the pigs that they need to stay in their pastures and they’re extreme about enforcing their now competition clause with the predators – to the point where they eat any predators foolish enough to violate their rules. Fencing helps but won’t stop predators. It really takes fence plus dogs to do the job right.
I have heard of people keeping pigs and cows together. We kept sheep with our pigs for years (we’re currently sheepless) and we also have chickens, ducks and geese free-ranging on pasture with our pigs. We found that during lambing season it was wise to separate the ewes who were about to lamb from the pigs so they had privacy. A newborn lamb is too tempting for a pig to pickup and see if it might be edible.
My curiosity about Husky cement mixers led me to your blog.
I really love your farm and you look like a really nice family. It may seem strange, but I just thought I’d say “Merry Christmas.” All the best with your endeavours.
Josh from Nelson, BC, Canada
As everyone else, LOVE you site and the gathering of info from everyone that shares!
I noticed that your site does not have a “follow your blog” via email… i.e. where I would get an email saying you have a new post. Is there a reason you don’t use this function? I’m just playing with WordPress for a blog related to our farm, and trying to figure out how to set it up. Was just wondering if you found a disadvantage to that auto post feature.
We raise Berkshire Hogs, milk our Jerseys and LOVE the fact that there is no waste… excess milk goes to the ‘conversion” factory!
stay warm, Amy
from a very warm, sunny winter in Northern Calif
I just haven’t found a tool I like for doing that yet. If anyone has a favorite plugin for WordPress for doing this then let me know.
if you look in your widgets you will find it along with a reblog so folk can share on their blogs
I would like to share your photo of pig cuts I have just entered a completion to be came a hambassadors under the http://www.loveyourpig.com and give a fork about pigs have a good weekend from Linda
Was curious. What’s your ratio of boars to sows in your herds? Also how do you detrimine which get held back as potential keepers? Lastly do you keep the keepers in the herd they were born in or put them in the other herd(s) ?
We have about one breeding boar per 15 to 20 sows typically. Sometime I’ll write a very detailed post about the many scoring criteria I use for picking breeders.
What do you guys do with the pig heads? I have made head cheese a few times with some heads but didn’t get any this year from the person I usually get them from. He didn’t raise any this year. Many farmers throw the heads away after they save the ears and snouts for dog treats. The trotters too. I would be interested in some heads and feet. And intestines for chitterlings.
Hi Mark, We sell the pig heads – great price. Check out the Order Form on the Literature page. There are two in the freezer now and they’re also available fresh. The price on the order form is jowl off and normally the butcher splits them in half. If you would like the head whole just let us know and that can be done too with an advanced order. For a little more you can get them jowl on (jowls weigh about 1 lb per side so just add that – see the Oddments on the order form. We also have pork long bones and soup bones, liver, kidney, heart, trotters, hocks and other delicious parts on the order form. Tails are all currently going to fatty acid research. Unfortunately we can’t currently do intestines, stomach, lungs or blood as the butcher doesn’t have a HACCP/PR for that as required by the USDA. We may do those in the future when we have our own on-farm slaughterhouse and butcher shop up and running. Stay tuned!
Oh, good. I would love to take the couple of heads you have frozen and maybe some other bits and parts you have in the freezer. I would like the jowls on but at this point would love any. Could I stop by Tomorrow?
I am a sheep farmer in South Africa and as a side line irrigate afalfah from a river. At the moment I use balers baling “idiot blocks” as you apparently call it. I am contemplating a switch over to a round baler and through Wikepedia landed on your blog. As a switch over entails new handling equipment such as a front loader and new hammermill I am very interested in your grab chain handling for round bales but I can’t find the details. Please be so kind to advise me.
Check out this post about the chain grab method and another two ways of grabbing bales:
I am just amaze about your web site! I am also a pig, chicken goat farmer in Virginia and just truely love ur site. It is now on my favorite tab and will browse it weekly. Thank you all for all your hard work. Take care.
The on-site abattoir is a great idea! Could you tell me where I can buy your products in Claremont, NH?
There aren’t any stores in Claremont. The closest is Killdeere farm stand in Norwich on Route 5. Sometimes the Upper Valley Coop in White River Junction carries our meat. Ask your local store to contact us after we have the butcher shop up and running as then we’ll have more capacity and expand our route a little. See Retail Outlets for a list of stores and restaurants and a map of where we deliver.
Do you have an idea of were I can purchase acorns here in Oklahoma for the two pigletes I just got sat. Any help would be great…
I don’t have any idea but what I would do is a Google search. That may find a local or regional source as well as further out. Here is the first pattern I would try: Acorns Oklahoma. Hazelnut, beechnut and others are also good things to look into. We unfortunately don’t have oaks for acorns but we have lots of beech and hazel nuts.
I am interested in purching some isoweans from you please contact me at your earliest convenience.
Minister Ricky Toney
See the Piglets page for pricing and other information.
Thank you for farming the way you do.
I tried to view the order form, but for some reason it seems to be unavailable– are you updating it, or is there some web-malfunction? I am really interested in looking at it, so if it’s at all possible, could you e-mail it to me?
I was just recently updating it so that might have been the trouble. Try this link to the Order Form or visit the Literature page. It is a two page PDF document. If you have any trouble with that, email me.
i wonder if you have any pigs forsale?or any goats?if you u do may you please contact me at this number-978-855-3287 or you can give me your number so i can call you…thank you
We don’t sell goats at this time but we do have pigs for sale both live, as roasters and as whole or half pigs. See the literature page for more details about our pigs and an order form.
How much milk do you give to one pig that is on hay in the winter
Per hundred weight the pigs eat about 0.8 lbs of hay per day and up to about 3.6 gallons of dairy if available. See feeding hay and feeding dairy[1, 2] Depending on the soils where the hay was grown you may also need to feed some mineral supplements in particular looking for iron and selenium. Your own soils may offer these – get a soil test to find out.
Hi, I read a post from you guys on permies about passive cooling methods and was wondering what you meant by lunar cooling panel and where I can find more information on this? There was not much on google
I think I’ve mentioned the “Lunar Panels” a few times. See this comment. Basically think of it as the opposite of a solar panel. Instead of pointing the collector at the sun, point the radiator at the darkest part of the sky. Another perhaps better name might be “Dark Panels”. The idea is to radiate the heat away to space. Sometime I’ll do a post with a drawing or pictures.
i have a qeustion that really needs tobe anwsered we have a male boar that we are trying to sell but of course no one wants to pay out so instead we wantto kill him to eat but we heard that you wouldnt want to eat a male pig who hasnt been fixed yet . please help can you eat him not fixd and will it tast fine or should we fix him and wait to eat him. please help!!!
Boar taint is not universal. Our pigs don’t have it. Research says that most pigs don’t have it. But, it is real and some pigs do have taint. There are also other kinds of taint. Taint is also affected by feed and management. Pasture and a high fiber diet help. See these articles on taint and also this one on taste testing. A traditional alternative use is hot spiced sausages if there is taint.
Hi-I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog. We are a home schooling family that has just gotten into raising pigs in the last year or two because of our son’s interest. We’ve literally learned as we’ve gone along.
We raised a couple of weiners and then bought a pregnant sow and raised her litter this past year. We now have a boar and just the sow and they’re together in an outdoor area and it looks like she’s going to give birth soon. I really love the idea of free-ranging them, but have yet to convince my husband due to the expense of getting fencing & new infrastructure up. We do have just over 2 acres of pasture that we normally hay that I’d like to use to rotate them, but my poor husband-he has enough to do!
However, with her about to give birth, we need a larger farrowing area-last time we found the shed we built that seemed so roomy was too short and we lost some of the piglets because it just wasn’t as long as she needed, so my husband will be building a new shed for her with the farrowing bars in it and an area to give the piglets room under the heat lamp and safe from being squashed and it’ll be much larger this time. She’s also in with the boar now. I haven’t seen anything on your blog about this birthing process.
How do you do it when they’re free-ranging like yours? Do you keep them confined with the piglets for a few weeks as we did our first time around and feed them in their shed? We weren’t sure about whether she’d squash the piglets during the birth process, and as we went through it, she was fine with one piglet but nearly suffocated the next one. Two was too much for her to handle during the birth process-so we did take them away as they were being born and she was fine once she knew where they were and she did accept them later. I think we’ll do that again. She did have a bunch 45 minutes apart from each other and then hours when by and we thought she was done, but had more 5-10 hours later and of these, most were squashed, we think as they were born.
Any advice on all of this as we head into it again?
Any books you recommend?
Thanks so much-I know I’ve asked a lot! -Janis
The fencing does not have to be overly complicated. Depending on your situation, e.g., minimal traffic, and once the pigs are trained, two or three wires of smooth wire electric such as polywire on step-in posts will suffice. It is key to get a good energizer. I recommend a minimum of 2.5 joules, preferably 6 joules and for our longer fence lines I like the 15 joule models. Kencove.com has these as does Tractor Supply. Follow the instructions for setting up the ground system carefully to make the fencer as effective as possible.
When she farrows (births) I would have her separate from the boar so she has privacy. I would separate them a week or two before you think she’ll birth. For articles on farrowing see this search pattern and check the Piglets tag in the right column’s tag cloud.
We do not use shed during the warm months. The sows simply setup nests out in the pastures along the margins. See these posts on nests. The sows are not confined. They tend to stay at the nest for a few days, grazing closeby, and then come in for food and water. After about a week they generally abandon that nest and join the herd again with piglets in tow. We don’t use heat lamps, cages, crates or anything like that.
During the winter we have open sheds where the sows can get some privacy for farrowing. See here. Winter farrowing is far harder than summer. Right now we’re approaching the border between the two as the seasons change.
You might want to pickup a copy of the book Small Scale Pig Raising by Dirk van Loon. It is a good introduction to pigs. It is not really about pastured pigs but will give you a broad overview.
I don’t have a store but I am very interested in buying a 500 lb container of peanut butter from time-to-time for our local food co-op. Do you sell such an item? If not, do you know where we can buy bulk peanut butter at wholesale prices?
We don’t sell peanut butter. I would try your preferred makers of peanut butter. I’m sure it is possible. Good luck.
Hello ..I love your site and have learned so much!
We have raised some pigs this year and plan to do a few next year again, we have plenty of land and like to give the pigs lots of free range pasture, My question is is it possible to raise a pig strictly on pasture & scraps…or with “some” feed ?..if so what is the minimum feed to give?
Thank you for your wonderful guidance!
Yes, it is very possible to raise a pig strictly on pasture. With our early poor pastures it took about seven to eight months to get to market size and they were leaner. Pasture is low in lysine and calories but a viable diet. Improving the pasture as we have done with first clovers and alphapha
Rather than free-ranging I would suggest doing managed rotational grazing as that will improve the soil and forages. Next improve with kale, rape, beets, turnips and other forages that grow well in the field in your soils and climate. Apples, pears and nuts are other valuable foods you can grow.
Add to that what ever scraps you can. For home consumption it can come from your kitchen but if selling the meat it is best to stick with pre-consumer food wastes and not plate scrapings. Avoid lots of heavy oils and such. Variety is a key to quality. Feed supplemental foods in the latter part of the day so the pigs graze in the first part of the day.
Watch the pigs condition. If they’re too fat they’re getting too many calories. If they’re too lean they need more calories. If they’re not putting on muscle they need more protein, probably lysine. Develop a keen eye.
I have read some of your posts and articles and am intersested in your opion about what I am about to do. I live in west central illinois and after returning home from being gone many years I have a small plot of land to work (18acres) but Iam a beginner at this. This year I am broadcasting 9 acres of winter wheat. I plan to sow that plot in oats and turnips when the wheat comes out. I plan on turning out cows to graze the oats and turnips in the fall up until they are gazed out. I thought that the following spring I could turn out pigs to root up the bulbs. This is my basic plan I am looking to fine tune it, and woul greatly appreciate your advice.
I don’t know much of anything about cows but on the pigs it is in the late fall that the turnips, beets and such become most appetitive. We use them for late fall and winter fodder. By spring many are mush. Those that are sometimes come backup with new growth. During the warm season we find the pigs graze the tops and leave the tubers. They also tend to leave the stalks which then produce seeds so the plants become self-seeding. Note we’re doing no-plow in pasture as opposed to tilled or plowed in field crops.
Dear Sugar Hill Farms,
I am currently a full time student at CCV in Winooski who is writing a paper on humane hog slaughter. I am a 30 y/o former resident of New Orleans who has always been fascinated by where our meat comes from. I have participated in and led poultry slaughters as well as butchered road kill in the deep south. I have, however, always found it particularly difficult emotionally to participate in the slaughter of hogs. I have always been fond of the animal and the meat and have been assigned to write a research paper about a topic that is particularly special to me. I have been assigned to reach out to many resources and would be honored if someone at your farm would be willing to be interviewed. I would be even more grateful if it might be possible to witness a hog slaughter. I hope to learn the techniques of humane slaughter as I intend to know the sources of my own food and hope to be able to work in this field in the future. Respectfully yours, Jo Robin
Sorry but no, as it says above on the contact page we do not do farm tours. Besides, we are not doing slaughter on farm yet either as we’re still working on building our butcher shop. I would suggest you contact Temple Grandin as she is an authority on the topic. Good luck with your school project.
Thanks for your suggestion! And great work!
ok i have a onther question if you can even answer it for me. the male boar i was talk you before about , well he got out a couple of time from his pen and my husband says its because of the female being in heat and he went into straight rut but my misunderstanding is he was up wind from her and has never gotten out before when she has been in heat and hes still inn the same upwind home from her.but anyways they killd him because they were afraid of him because of his size and they said he was huffing and puffing like he was about to attack so they killd him and brought him out back and when they gutted him and skind him they said his meat lookd stringy and green. what in the world does that mean. he was only like i said before about 5 years old please get back soon. thanks.
He may have been huffing simply from mating behavior and not being about attacking, hard to say without seeing him. When they are in rut they foam at the mouth and breath heavily to get their pheromones to the female to bring her into heat. Even with her being right wind of him he still might have smelled her as the wind can shift around.
The meat sounds like stress. Being in rut plus being chased and maybe a bad kill shot upped his stress hormones which may have damaged the meat.
i think so to.i wasnt up there while all this was happening but i did see part of it where he was out and going back up hill behind his house and then while the guys where chasing back he ran down hill and thats when they did what they did. and i did say to them know that they stressd him even more the meat will be very tough so no point of even keeping it. but i just dont get why it was stringy and green. my husbands keeps telling me it still is very green even though he is dead. but i did tell him i lookd online about green meat in pigs and said something about age as if it wasnt at a proper age yet. and i know i heard alot about what they eat to doesnt help but all he ate was hog pellets and whole corn. and when we cut the grass sometimes the grass cuttings. it just really upsets me if the meat wasnt tainted and we could of had alot of meat for our house. not to be rude but men sometimes can really go over board when it comes to shooting things ,or wanting to shoot things. im a hunter myself but please i think he was like you said about the rut . we know that when the do foam at the mouth to. but the guys were really scared of a realy big pig who i think only was trying to get to her . but we have our cows and the baby piglets in there where she is. so it wouldnt of been a pretty site. so we did what we had to do so he wouldnt keep getting out. i hope thats what we did. but have you ever seen what tainted meat looks like from a pig. i tried to google it and it only talked about chine and tainted meat. please help if you can and thanks for your response back.
I have seen a green sheen to the meat once. It happened when the butcher we used to go to up in St. Johnsbury, VT had a problem with their cooler not keeping the meat cold enough and it spoiled.
I am in search of meat cutting classes and workshops. Are they still available? I was referred to Master Butcher Cole Ward. Google directed me to your website Sugar Mountain Farms. I live in Burlington, and I am new to the area. My family owns a slaughter plant in Canaan N.Y. called Hilltown Pork. I have trained on the kill floor for three years and I feel confident and proficient in animal slaughter: goats, pigs, sheep, deer, and cows. I am now interested in furthering my education(outside the family business) to meat cutting. Thank you
Check out Cole’s web site http://colescuts.com/.
I was wondering if I can get a piglet from you ready to be cooked for New Year’s Eve.
Or if you know any place I can get them for frying either in GA or nearby states as SC or NC or TN. Thank you in advance,
Yes, see the Roaster page and let us know what size you would like.
Hey Walter !
I thought would share with you for a change , we have similar goals in life and attitudes toward food and lifestyle. And in my pursuit of this same crazy 28-8 day week …the need to Eat Great food…( I love Pig’s !) ..share Great food…preserve whats left of just basic need’s and values for my family and friend’s…I came accross this little piece of info in my research ( Look up FAO.org ) ..you got me going with the ‘Taint” thing…I remebered having always hunted/Fished in New England since I was like 5 or 6 years old (Williston VT product 64′-73’) my Grandfather saying you needed to bleed the Deer or Turkey or even Trout etc. out as fast as possible and don’t stress the meat ! (Think Rigamortis (?) Get the Organ’s out etc…This e-mail is about the dreaded “Taint” in Boar’s or any Oink/or Animal that is Harvested under “Stress” .
Have you heard of “PSE” ? It’s caused by severe stress to an animal prior to “Harvest” stressful handling situations, transport, offload, holding pens, stunning techniques..all this can lead to a biochemical process that decreases the amount of “Glycogen” in the muscle this results in a pronounced “Acidity” in the meat/muscle, with a resulting PH level of 5.4-5.6 = Taint..or a bad flavor … Soooo the most important part is (I guess it’s even more critical in Porky) YOU DON’T WANT THEM BURNING THIS UP ! They need to be kept calm through the whole process…lead them to beleive it’s just another day…what I’ve read is that in Europe and now in California…they are putting Chickens and Turkey’s (why not Pigs /Cattle?) into a Carbon Monoxide chamber and putting them to sleep before the final blow…this seems much more Human/mane to me..anyway…I thought I would pass this your way…Anyway…I will be in touch as I would like to get two of Blackies Guilt line/ Guilt’s…knocked up….your eye..with extra hoo hoo’s to start off with..maybe next fall (?) I would let you know by spring ….I live in Sturbridge Ma and have friends with farmland in Brookfeild and Dudley Ma…both former Dairy Farms that have died.due to lack of interest and the Milk situation here…a lot of land here dedicated to Ag ONLY…just sitting ! Ohhh..the link to Chickenthistle Farm in NY was interesting…they do a Podcast type thing …base their whole farm CSA pre-sale…thanks to you…I’ve learned so much !
Thank You ! Keith O
Yes, stress is one of the causes of the dreaded taint and is often blamed on hormones when it is really a handling issue. There are many causes of taint. Check out these articles for more than you probably ever want to know on the topic.
When you’re approaching the time you’ll be ready for Guaranteed Bred Prime Gilts give me advanced warning of about five months ideally so that I can pick you out some nice ones. Just mail a deposit of $100 per gilt with a note of what you’re looking for.
While you’re waiting for your gilts work on lining up food sources and prepping pastures for managed rotational grazing. Look around for any local cheese or yogurt makers that may have whey they need to dispose of. Fall pumpkins, apple mash from cider making are other good things. We plant a lot of kale, rape, turnips and beets out in our pastures. In a pasture situation many ‘annuals’ are perennials or at least biannuals and self reproducing. Also boost your pastures with clover and other legumes to make for good grazing diets.