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:

Wholesale Orders:

PIGLETS? If you have not already put down a deposit you are too late for this spring and summer. Next available piglets will be in October. Consider raising winter pigs.

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[1]. 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.


-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm, LLC
252 Riddle Pond Road
West Topsham, VT 05086

Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT)
Vermont Fresh Network,
Rural Vermont
The Vermont Grass Farmers’ Association,
Vital Communities,
and a 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.

473 Responses to Contact

  1. Jackson says:

    Really cool that you answer our questions like this!

    I have been laying the groundwork for a permaculture farm with a focus on pastured pork and found the podcast on the topic more useful then I could have ever imagined. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

    I am looking into a four acre rotational system wherein one will be mostly annual vegetables for my root cellar, another for pasturing pork, rotating them once every four months into the other two paddocks. Every year I plan to rotate my annual garden, and in the two empty pastures I will be cover cropping with a blend typical to what you talked about in your podcast.

    Would you say a blend of oats, clover and alfalfa with lower levels of turnip and beets be on the right track? Also, do you rotate out varieties of cover crop after several years? Or is that not necessary.

    Thanks so much man!

    • Use a minimum of four paddocks for rotation, preferably more like twice that or even more. This lets you better manage the grazing, parasite lifecycle breaking and forage growth as the seasons and the pig sizes change.

      Over time I’ve added new things to our pasture. I like things that self-seed or are perennials. A basic foundation is soft grasses followed by legumes and then brassicas in our climate and soil. Chicory, millet, dandelions, colts foot and some other things also mix in well there. There are some plants that don’t tolerate the grazing cycle like burdock and thistle – these get eaten out. Once I find forages that grow well in our climate, soil, animal impact and come back well I don’t rotate them out of the cycle. This is not like fields of corn where one replants them each year but rather like perennial pastures, more of a permaculture development.

      • Jackson says:

        I will definitely plan to rotate more than four times, thanks for the suggestion. How often do you find yourself needing to re-seed your paddocks? I am guessing only as it is needed (when it looks low on vegetation compared with thriving fields.

        • We seed some every year but many pastures don’t get any seed in any particular year. This is because we have pastures in many different states. Some we started with over 25 years ago, others we opened up from regrown forest that had come in from the original field stone walls back in 1998 and then we did another opening up of old pastures, freeing them from forest in 2009. The result is there are pastures in different states of improvement which have different seeding needs. Mostly we seed to change the species mix. Coming out of forest there is very low variety and no legumes or brassicas. Gradually as our pastures have diversified over the decades the existing pastures are seeding new areas.

  2. todd caverly says:

    Walter, I am in need of your experience. I have mixed breed pigs raised on pasture, hay, produce year round, whey in the summer, and processed dairy year round. I have a couple of uncut boys that I am getting ready to butcher. I have a nagging question in my mind about taint. I have butchered several uncut from this batch with no issue. The most recent were 2 months ago. They are now older, but have not had any corn, soy, or been active since the only girls in that group are all about to pig out now. What do you think my risk of taint is? Thank you.

  3. John Hamel says:

    Hello again Walter my sow is about to farrow again and i need some advice.
    last time she farrower it was in may during that cold rainy time period and she went to the back of my 10 acres and farrowed I asked your advice then too and you help calm me down she did a great job even though it made it hard on me. my concern this time is she was a very protective agressive mother toward people not so much me but she did scare me and i didn’t handle the piglets at all but she didn’t take her eye off me at all but with my wife and anyone else she would have maled them if they went near the piglets she would growel and charge them. it was 5 weeks before she would let anyone near the piglets as long as we didn’t tutch them. when she is not a mother she is a baby and i can do anything with her she comes when called she is such a great pet never an agressive moment. how can i get her to not be agresive when she has her litter.
    any advice would be greatful
    thanks John

    • You can work on behavioral training with her but I think you are dealing with innate (genetic) aggression to protect the piglets and that she is a danger. I would cull her to meat. It is not worth getting mauled. Temperament is highly genetic so her offspring are likely to be similar.

  4. Bryan Quante says:

    Hello Walter,

    It is amazing how often I have a question about pigs, google it, and end up finding the answer on Sugar Mountain or in a forum that you have contributed to. I really appreciate your extensive knowledge, sustainable philosophies and no nonsense responses to all things pig and farm.

    I am new to pig keeping. We started with two Kunekune gilts a year and a half ago. We planned to breed them for food, show and companion pigs. We now have 6 adults and 3 piglets, and have learned much. But as I started to browse, I realized more than ever that there is SO much to learn from farrowing to processing and beyond.

    I can only read so much at a time from the computer, and I will continue to explore the vast wealth of knowledge on your site. Are there any books that you would recommend for someone who is trying to develop their knowledge base of all things pig? I apologize if this is a redundant question, or if the answer is somewhere glaring and I missed it.

    Thank You!

    Bryan Quante

    • “Small Scale Pig Raising” by Dirk van Loon is my favorite basic pig book. It isn’t focused on pasturing but it does have all of the basis of pigs. After that I recommend Harris on the Pig which is an oldie but a goldie. If you want to delve much deeper then Swine Science.

  5. Dawn Carroll says:

    I really liked Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs. Other than that I have used The Pig Site & Merick’s Veterinary website and the books that Walter mentioned.

  6. Jackson says:

    I was looking at some castrated males online and the ad indicated that they had already received iron shots. I was wondering if this was a necessity or if it would be possible to forgo any additives by just choosing an ideal diet for them. I am naive to what is necessary treatment of all pigs and what is needed for a certain type of husbandry.

  7. Matt Coffay says:

    Hey Walter,

    I have a question about chickens. I saw a post of yours from a few years ago on the Permies forum in response to someone’s question about what to feed their flock. We’ve got a few young chicks that are nearly pullets (ready to lay in a month maybe), and just added a couple adults to our flock as well.

    I have access to a free supply of spent brewers grain (mixed barley, rye, wheat, and hops), along with free goat’s whey. We feed both of these to our pigs as their sole source of feed (along with foraging, of course). I was wondering if you think these two feed sources–along with several acres to free range–would make for an adequate diet for our chickens as well. I really don’t want to buy commercial laying pellets–the whole idea of “needing” to feed chickens commercial feed seems absurd to me: how long has this been going on exactly? A few decades? Clearly people have gone centuries without access to commercial feed.

    Thanks for your response.

    • We don’t feed any commercial hen food, or pig food for that matter either. The vast majority of our animals’s diet consists of the pasture and for long periods that is all they’ve gotten. During the warm months the chickens, pigs, ducks, geese and sheep can get everything they need just from the pasture and the chickens still As available we also sometimes have apples, spent barley from the local brew pub and occasionally dated bread. All of these are nice bonuses but they are not required. Even without them we still get lots of eggs during the warm months. In the winter we feed meat to our chickens from our weekly butchering. This replaces the insects they eat out on pasture during the warm months. See the Pig Page and follow the feed links as well as looking in the tag cloud in the right hand column for the Feed articles.

      Where I sometimes do buy commercial feed is for baby chicks for their first few weeks, especially if we’re doing chicks in the middle of the winter. In the summer on pasture they don’t need it.

      Think of the bagged food as a convenience thing.

  8. Hello Walter, I wish that I could remember who told me to look you up so that I could thank them! Your writing is very informative, well done, and entertaining. The information I have gleaned so far is amazing and I will be using it to help educate others in our organization. Your link will be added to our website and to my farm site as well. Thank you for all that you do and for sharing your experience with us! Warmest regards, Lori Enright (Founder, American Kunekune Pig Registry)

  9. Jessica Penardo says:

    Hi, my husband and I are interested in buying a piglet for a pet. Could you please let me know if you have any available and the cost. Thank you for your help! 508-277-0342

    • What we have are farm pigs. They get very large – up to 1,700 lbs. I would strongly not recommend getting a farm pig as a pet. There are small breeds but even those get up to 300 lbs. For more about pet pigs see these articles.

      • The Kunekune Pig breed is also a “farm pig” produced and harvested for its sweet and succulent meat and fat. We do not promote them as “pets”, however, for those who can keep a pig in the barnyard reaching upwards to 300 pounds, the temperament is unmatched. Kunekune Pigs are colorful and attractive and easy to keep being unique in their ability to do well on little more than grass. They graze rather than root, are easy on fences and not prone to roam, docile, perfect for first time pig owners. We call them “the grazing pig”, “the little green pig”, “homestead pigs”, “small heritage hogs”, and “the urban pig” due to the size, behavior, and temperament.

        • Both KuneKune as well as the Vietnamese Pot Bellied Pigs would be a better choice for a pet pig than our larger farm breeds which will grow to far larger sizes in less than a year. I know of quite a few people who have these times and are very happy with them both as small meat animals and as pets.

  10. Kevin says:

    Walter, thanks for sharing so much of your knowledge!

    I have a question regarding feeding pigs … I’ve a friend who raises chickens and suggested that we feed any chickens of his that die to my pigs that I’m raising to eat. What are your thoughts on this?

    Thanks in advance for taking the time to answer!

    • Pigs are omnivores and they will eat meat. If you’re raising the meat for yourself then there are no legal issues. In some states they don’t allow feeding meat to pigs although if you’re raising a chicken and a pig eats it that would seem to be in the grey area. Pigs do eat mice, snakes and delicious grubs out on the pastures. It is a natural part of their diet.

  11. Dan says:


    I am getting ready to move my first two weaner pigs out of their enclosure (7 hog panels on your great advise). I will put my chickens in there for a few days also on your advise. I have two questions. First is should I plant red and white clover , rape , alpha, ?
    Also since I don’t have any pasture now I am feeding commercial pig feed and goats milk. Should I soak the pig fed in water or is that a waste of time ?

    Thank you

    • If the pigs and chickens eat everything down then this is a great opportunity to plant what ever will produce a fall forage or for you to change the pasture mix. For fall forages I would look at how many days left and then plant appropriately pumpkins, sunflowers, beets, turnips, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, mangels, sugar beets etc which will produce within your season. For pasture I would plant soft grasses like blue grass, legumes (alfalfa, clovers, trefoil), brassicas (kale, rape, broccoli, etc), millets and other seeds producers, chicory, etc.

      I don’t feed the commercial mix so I would suggest checking the bag. I don’t think you need to soak it although you could do a trial for a week with two feeders, one soaked, one dry and see which they prefer and eat more of. It would be interesting.

  12. Dawn Carroll says:

    I don’t feed commercial feeds either for several reasons…1 they could contain blood plasma from infected pigs with the PEDv virus, 2 they are really expensive, 3 they just don’t need all that stuff in the bag that the “pig” growers say they need. When I do feed grains I feed rolled Corn, Oats, Barley (COB) with molasses. If you don’t have pasture feeding a quality alfalfa or legume hay will provide them with roughage that every animal needs.
    Feeding feeds wet will improve digestion and they will eat less. Feeding wet feeds isn’t used very often because it is messy but for just a couple of piggies it wouldn’t be that big of a mess. When you think about 1000’s of pigs and wet feeds though…well you get the picture. Confined animal feeding operations (CAFO’s). Wet equals mold and disease. Yes it may take a few more weeks to finish them out (which is literally all it actually takes to make weights) but your pocket book will thank you and the flavor of your meat will actually be better with the more natural forages your piggies can consume.

  13. Christina says:

    Hello, we have a gilt and aren’t sure if or when she will deliver?
    The last possible day this Saturday Aug 16th…

    Her pregnancy indicator is pointing straight out, is red and has had discharge for about 3 days now and her teets have dropped some but no milk yet???

    Could you please tell me what else to look for?

    Thank you,

    • It isn’t uncommon for gilts to not give milk until the very end. Keep watching her. The last day she should start building a nest and may not be interested in food.

      • Christina says:

        My husband tried pushing on her back to see if she was in heat and she stood for him, will they do that even if they are bred?

        He has convinced himself that she isn’t bred, but I’m still optimistic and hoping that she is and our dates were just a little off :)

        Thank you for your time, your articles are very informative!!

  14. Lisa says:

    Hi Walter,

    We are new to raising pigs & I have a few questions. I couldn’t find a search button on your website to see if my questions have already been answered so sorry if this has been covered.

    All of our pigs are on pasture (old christmas tree land), we are using them to till up the land so we can improve it. We have 1 boar (Berkshire/Tamworth cross), 2 gilts (1 Berkshire/Tamworth cross & 1 Berkshire, pregnant) & 1 sow (Berkshire) that just delivered 3 days ago. They are all together in the same pasture, we got to witness the boar interacting with the piglets which was so precious. She had 6 piglets but one died about 12 hours after birth, all the others are doing great. She built a nest surrounded by spruce trees, that we then (after the birth) placed hay bales between the trees to offer wind breaks. She seems happy with the setup.

    One of my questions is about predator protection. I’m wondering if we should be concerned with predators getting the piglets? We have bear, wolf, coyote, hawks, & ravens. Will the group of pigs protect the piglets enough or should we provide more protection? If so, can you give us some ideas on how to provide better protection.

    Another question is regarding our fencing. We have 3 wire electric fencing surrounding the pasture area. Will this be enough to contain the piglets as they adventure around the pasture? If not, what kind of fencing should we use?

    Additional, this is the sow’s first litter. What do you consider to be an acceptable litter size for a first time mother? When she delivers a second litter what would be the acceptable litter size then?

    Thank you for your help. I love reading the information here. Your pregnancy indicator post was most helpful.


    • Yes, predators are a big concern. Almost all piglets get eaten by predators in the wild. Predators are very good at what they do. Consider that if a sow has one or two litters a year for four years (short life) then that is probably 40 piglets or a lot more. But she only needs to produce about 1.1 replacement breeders in her life to have a sustainable population. Almost all the rest are food for predators.

      If you want to keep most of the piglets alive you’ll want good fences and ideally working dogs to guard the piglets as well as negotiate and enforce boundary treaties with predators. I would suggest pulling the pigs inward at night to a securely fenced area near you if you don’t have working dogs to protect them.

      The fencing won’t likely contain the piglets although they will tend to stay near the sow for weeks. Later they may wander further. To maximize the chances of the piglets being contained you want to have a wire at their low nose height, walking nose height, high nose height and then the walking nose height of the larger pigs. This bottom wire is very low to the ground and will tend to get shorted out. Alternatively, put sticks, logs, rocks and such outside the fence which causes the piglets to lift their noses as they approach the fence reducing the need for the lowest wire.

      On litter size, it is small but there are many factors. If she does a good job of raising them I would give her a chance at a second litter. Litter size tends to go up. The count and size weaned is actually more important than the count born.

  15. james roberson says:

    Can someone please tell me why my tom turkey has suddenly become aggressive towards humans ? I have him in with my chickens,which is where he’s always been ! I bought him a wife,no help !! should I put him in a pen alone (maybe with his wife) ? Please help if you can !!!!!

  16. Dawn says:

    Drop kick him a few times and teach him some manners and perhaps he will quit trying to run you out of “his” pen. Or give him a much bigger area to live in may help as he won’t be as energetic because he will work off some energy running around a bigger pen.
    You could feed him beer if you want to keep him. Beer will mellow him out as would “brownies”.
    Other than that eat him. I don’t like breeding on aggressive animals unless they are so exceptional that you would want to keep him for a breeder. Even then there are limits to exceptional.

  17. Chris Kingsley says:

    Hi Walter I have a question about breeding my 500 pound Hamshire Sow. Do I have to use a boar similar in weight. If so what would be the minimum size I could use to accomplish the job. Thanks

    • There can be a significant difference in size between the sow and boar. If the sow is in standing heat she should accept a boar of any size. He merely has to be able to reach. The boars will often position large sows down hill from themselves to help. The danger with a very large boar and a small gilt is he could break her back if they’re on slippery footing – you won’t have that issue with your sow. A boar comes into his stride around eight to ten months although he may be breeding at six months and lots of sex play earlier. See this post about Ambition.

  18. Matt says:

    Hey Walter,

    Thanks so much for the amazing resource you’ve made available via your blog. This is our first year raising pigs, and I’ve made extensive use of all of the info you have posted here.

    I have a question about one of our pigs that I was hoping you’d be willing to help us with. From what I’ve gathered, you seem to be both philosophically and practically aligned with what we’re trying to do raising pigs, so you seem like the person to ask (unfortunately, we don’t have someone locally who we can reach out to).

    We’re raising 3 pigs this year (and, as I said, it’s our first year with pigs). Two of them have been great, no health problems; the other developed a small infection from a cut on his head (probably from rubbing himself against the fence) earlier this year. We had the one and only local vet come out, who dosed him with an antibiotic before I could ask what she was giving him. Needless to say, it wasn’t a great experience.

    At this point, we’re 10 days away from slaughter with all 3 of our pigs, and we’ve just noticed a growth on the back of this same pig’s back left leg, near what would have been his scrotum (we was cut before we purchased him). It’s about half the size of a tennis ball, somewhat malleable (not rock hard; it can be moved around a bit), slightly warm to the touch, and doesn’t seem to cause him discomfort when we palpate it. It seems like the beginnings of an infection/abscess, as far as I can tell.

    We posted something on (the post is titled “large lump on pigs back leg” and near the top of the forum), but haven’t received much feedback with respect to the specifics of our question. Basically, this is where we’re at: we’re pretty sure it’s not cancerous (it’s not rock hard); we think it may be somewhat infected (it’s a little warm to the touch); the pigs are 10 days from slaughter; we’re reticent to call out the local vet given our previous experience. In essence, we’re concerned about lancing it and applying any sort of antibiotic since we’re about to have him slaughtered.

    So, all this being said: what are our options? Is there some sort of safe topical treatment we can apply? Meaning, could be potentially lance is and apply something topically that wouldn’t render the meat inedible a couple weeks from now? If so, can you point us to some kind of web resource that’d demonstrate how to lance and treat something like this? You can see a photo of the pig at if that’s helpful.

    I’m sorry to trouble you with this; I realize this is totally outside the scope of your farm and the amazing work that you do. But please know that a couple of confused folks down in North Carolina greatly appreciate any help and direction you can offer them (we’re organic vegetable farmers, and totally new to the whole pig thing).

    Thanks so much in advance.


    • Sounds like a cyst. Personally I would try heat and might lance it. also has a large section on disease which you may find helpful. Good luck!

      • Matt says:

        Thanks Walter. I think it was indeed an abscess; it actually burst on its own before we could lance it. I was going to ask what you think here: basically the large, soft, boil-like growth has gone down considerably after bursting, and is now somewhat hardened (but much smaller). We’ve been applying moist heat, spraying it out with a saline solution (to try to rinse out the interior of where it burst), and applying iodine twice daily.

        We’re taking them to slaughter next Monday, and as of now he isn’t showing any signs of illness (he’s moving around and eating fine). Are we doing the right thing here? It seems like having a vet out is just going to result in his being given antibiotics, in which case we wouldn’t want to eat him.

        Also, assuming that he does have this infection on his rear leg, will he still be safe to eat? I assume we’d want to scrap the flesh around that area on his rear leg; but, when we take him to the slaughter house, do we just inform them that we want the meat from that section of the animal scrapped? We’re butchering our other two pigs ourselves, but were planning on having this one vacuum packed.

        Thanks again for your help. I’d be happy to e-mail a photo if that’d be helpful. And thanks again for this resource.

        • The inspector will check the animal and examine the lymph glands and such to make sure that it is okay. That is part of the process of inspection. They’ll advise trimming around the area if they think there is an issue. Pointing it out to them won’t hurt but I’m sure they’ll see it.

  19. Sam Bass says:

    I am a resent widower with three children at home. I home school the kids, 10, 14, and 17. I have a 160 acres of land with about 80 acres in pasture and the rest in overgrown forest. I will be receiving 40 pigs tomorrow. I like what I see on your website and am hoping to do much of what you are doing. My wife died of cancer and I am convinced that a lot of the disease is caused by our food so I want to try to raise beyond organic food to sale direct. I also do ministry in Africa and much to my own shame we have taught many of my African friends modern american farming techniques…and it is failing! I recently visited Joel Salatin’s farm and now am convinced of his style and hope to learn for myself such farming and then to be able to teach it to my 3rd world friends. I am so impressed with what you are doing and with your website and would like to learn from you. I am 63 and have not been on a farm since I was a teenager so I am in a learning mode and open to any advice or direction you have to offer.

    • This too is a big reason why I wanted to grow our own, to supply our family with healthy organic food.

      Good news is that there are people in Africa, and all over the world, who ware working to redevelop and reimplement the older healthier styles of farming integrating them with the best of modern technology like the plastic pipe that can efficiently deliver water long distances from springs higher up without loss of the water and low impedance electric fences that can help manage rotational grazing to improve the soil and provide much of the animals needs right from the land. Email and the web has allowed people from all over the world to share ideas that work. The trick is to pick and choose the technologies that truly benefit.

      My biggest advice is to read to learn from others and then to experiment, implementing slowly so you make small mistakes before making big ones. Grow slowly.

  20. Victoria says:

    I am hoping someone here can help me. I am having some problems with my 3 Tamworth gilts. They are 3 months old, and starting to have some behavioural issues. When I first brought the pigs home one got loose, and took off into the bush. After she had spent 16 nights in the bush I finally managed to catch her and bring her home. I re-introduced her to her sisters right away, and there were no issues or fighting. I on the other hand have been having problems with her trying to jump up on me, head butting my legs, and nibbling at my boots when I come in the pen to feed them. The other two are starting to pick up on her wild ways. How can I show these pigs that I am boss?

    • Some pigs will do this. You want to correct it early. A sharp “No!” and a gentle swat away or nudge with your boot should suffice. If it becomes a problem, eat the aggressor. Pigs are highly motivated by food. If they’re hungry and know you’re going to be dumping down food they may simply be trying to get your attention to give it to them. You may wish to switch to feeding over the fence and then interacting with them once they’re calmer so you can tame them on full bellies.

  21. Ron Jackson says:

    I am interested in participating in your CSA program, and will email you when I have the funds ready to distribute.

    I will be starting my own Farm and Ranch in southern Colorado long before next spring, and look forward to some sort of association with you.

    I would also like to know how I should go about finding whey for the pigs commercially. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.
    Ron Jackson

    • Contact local dairies, creameries, butter makers, cheese makers and yogurt makers. They may even deliver if you can reliably take the volume to make it worth their time. Their problem is that they must get rid of the whey and can’t dump it in the drain. Land fills are very expensive places for them to dispose of it. The government would prefer they feed it to animals as the best use. This puts the organic materials back in the life cycle without sending it down the chaos slope. The trick is finding a dairy that matches you in size.

  22. Paula C says:

    Hi there,
    We own a swine farm in south america and while doing some reseach, i came across your blog. I`d like to request some advise from you. Would you able to recommend a good brand name product to aid in the induction of estrus in sows and first estrus in gilts?
    Thanks for your help!

  23. anthony says:

    i will like to buy a pig

  24. Beth says:

    I am looking for rendered lard. I did some myself a few years ago, and the process just takes too long when you work full time and can only do it on the weekend. I was wondering if you sell leaf lard, all rendered?

    • At this time (2/19/15) we do not do rendering of lard for sale because we don’t have the necessary commercial kitchen or license how ever it is something we plan to do in the future so check back in about a year to see if we’re up to that stage yet. We’re about to begin meat cutting and then sausage making in our butcher shop. Currently almost all of our leaf lard goes into our hot dogs, part of what makes them so good.

  25. Mike says:

    I have a quick question with regards to pig feed. I currently have 3 gilts and one boar. Half of their daily recommended food intake comes from pig grower feed from the local feed store. Then I give them oat green feed to forage through the rest of the day. Is this a good method? I’ve been reading that the oats should be cracked before giving it to the pigs, but I can’t do this with green feed. Their manure seems to be normal and I don’t see seeds in it. What are your thoughts

    • I’m not sure what you mean by a green feed. Do you mean sprouts or grain or something else? Whole seeds, grains, will typically significantly pass right through the pigs. This is the plant’s way of getting spread around in nice fertile manure patties so the seeds can grow. If you want the pigs to get the nutritional value of the seeds then you should grind, cook or sprout the seeds so they are easier to digest. If you see no seeds in the manure then this is a good sign that the pigs are succeeding in digesting them. See the article Feeding Barley.

      • Mike says:

        Green feed is when you cut the crop before the grain is fully matured. Instead of separating the crop from the straw you just leave it on and bale it. We call this green feed in Canada

        • Ah. So that would be like the animals self-harvesting the fresh grains out in the field. Depending on the stage of the seeds more or less will pass through to the manure where it can sprout vs getting digested by the animal.

  26. Sean Kozlowski says:

    Howdy Sugar Mountain Farmers,

    I am at the beginning end of researching whether or not raising pigs makes sense where I am (Please, please). Would you recommend any Go To books for someone in my position?


    • The first book I would recommend is “Small Scale Pig Raising” by Dirk van Loon. It is not about pastured pigs, which is what we do, but has all the pig basics. It was recently updated in 2014.

      On my blog you’ll find over 2,000 articles, most of which deal with how we do things here on our farm including pasturing our pigs. Start on the Pig Page and follow links from there. You’ll find more leads into information in the right sidebar. Another good article to begin with after that is Keeping a Pig For Meat.

  27. Tammie says:

    Where is a good location to find recommendations on vaccinations. We are in NC and most recommendations I have found are for confinement housing. Thanks for any direction you can give.

  28. Dolly says:

    My daughter has just gotten into “backyard” pig raising. She has a boar that she noticed had what looked like a small lump on his scrotum that apparently burst, but she also noticed that he looked like he had dried spots on his scrotum like it was chafed. Because of the cold weather we have had this winter, is it possible for boars to get “chafed” skin on their scrotum? She has put medicine on his scrotum but she is thinking that perhaps she should have been putting bag balm on when she first noticed it looked like he had dried spots. Please advise. Thank you

  29. Dawn Carroll says:

    Perhaps worming the boar might be a good idea. I don’t know if pigs get pin worms or not like horses do but perhaps he is itching from worms and making sores on his scrotum from doing so. I use Ivomec injectable for swine & cows for 3 days in a row in their daily feed with a size appropriate dose each day. Of course if your daughter goes ahead and opts to inject her boar with Ivomec then one dose would be sufficient. If she does put the wormer in the feed then he should be alone so that no one else gets part of his feed.

  30. Ruth Stone says:

    I just wanted to tell you how much I have enjoyed reading your articles. I live in Alberta, Canada and was looking for info on pastured pigs as I have some land that needs to be worked over and diesel is VERY expensive these days. I have had pigs before but they were “yard pigs” and didn’t do a lot of roaming around as the yard area was large enough for that small number. We farm 2 adjoined quarters and have mostly Dexter and Dexter cross cows who do a wonderful job of clearing brush and small trees but aren’t so efficient at cultivating. Anyway most of my questions were answered so thanks. Wonderful reading.

  31. Cory says:


    I’ve stalked you online for quite some time trying to glean wisdom from you. I’ve got a couple of questions.

    1) We’ve got a slow growing feeder pig. Was always on the smaller side. He probably weighs about 175 and is almost 6 months old. At this size are there any of the standard cuts that would be worth salvaging or would you suggest all sausage?
    2) We’ve started raising pastured pork. Feeders are so hard to come by around here so it seems financially wise to farrow our own feeders. I know you mostly cross breed all your pigs. We are looking to get a new boar and are trying to decide between a large black hog (from registered stock) or a berkshire. I love the length of the large blacks but the berks have a great reputation when it comes to meet. Any suggestion on choosing a boar? As a side note most of our sows/gilts are Red Wattles.

    Thanks for any input you have.

    • 1) Pig Growth and Yield:

      Genetics and feed are the dominant controls of growth rate followed by temperature (winter vs summer) and parasite loads.

      Have you dewormed the pig? A heavy parasite load can steal away nutrition. You might want to do a fecal exam.

      Was the pig grown over the cold winter months? It would grow slower then.

      Was the food nutritionally balanced, high protein and calories for rapid growth? A lower diet, like pasture, slows growth which is not necessarily bad, just requires more patience.

      Is the pig from fast or slow growing genetics? This is a huge factor.

      Going into the warm season with fresh pasture the pig’s growth rate may suddenly speed up, especially if it was parasite loaded and you deworm it.

      At 175 lbs live weight the pig would typically be a bit lean, not strongly marbled, and yield at 126 lbs hanging weight with standard scald and scrape processing. That will typically yield about 84 lbs of commercial cuts plus oddments like head, trotters, etc. It will be good eating, just not as marbled or as much back fat typically. We sell pigs of this size for spit roasting all the time. They can also make a fine cutter.

      2) Breeding:

      We have lines of pure bred and lines of crosses. We work with Yorkshire, Berkshire, Large Black, Tamworth genetics primarily to create our Mainline, Blackieline and other lines. You can see more about that on the Pig Page and the Breeders Page. What we do is run boar centric territories and then rotate our sows through the boar herds to control the breeding patterns. This works well with our pasture setup. The Berkshire are primarily known for adding marbling. Large Black also have good marbling. Within any breed keep in mind that there are lines that have been selected for generations for pasture vs confinement/grain feeding so be sure to get pigs from someone who is raising them the way you want to do it. The line of the pigs is more important than the breed. See this article: Classic Large White Sow which talks about the line vs breed issue and there is some discussion of the boar herd management in the Vet Visit article. After than, when choosing a boar look at their conformation of body, legs, shoulders, hams, temperament, teat count, etc. Fourteen is the minimum I would consider, we have some with eighteen – teats on a boar matter because how many the boar has influences how many his daughters will have and that in turn influences milk production which influences total piglet weaning count and weight.

      I have no experience with Red Wattles so I can’t comment on them other than I’m cautious of the wattles as I fear that would make processing difficult.

  32. Gabriel says:

    I am going to get a couple of Red Wattle piglets soon and I am not sure which type of pasture would be best for them, I have a open field pasture with no trees or a mostly wooded (pasture) area. Which do you think would be best, trees or grassland? Each area is only about 3 acres, but I have to decide which area to fence and make paddocks.


    • I have never dealt with Red Wattle pigs but there is nothing particularly special about their pasture requirements based on conversations with those who have. They pasture well if from pastured lines. A mix of open pasture, brush and trees is ideal – a savanna style pasture. I would suggest managed rotational grazing – divide the land into many small paddocks. You can read more about that on the Pig Page and follow the links from there about grazing. For fencing I really like high tensile wire but even poly wire is good.

  33. Darren says:

    I am in Australia and have been producing my own cooked smallgoods.
    I recently procured a older sow and used its meat to produce my smallgoods.
    I found that during processing and smoking the meat all looked good, but once cooking to an internal temperature of 65C the meat broke down to three parts, water, fat and meat. Have you ever heard of this? I have been told by an older Italian that use of sows on heat is not recommended, but would that affect the meat in that way?
    I have searched the internet but can not find any reference?
    With thanks

    • You might be seeing PSE Meat which is a genetic condition exasperated by stress. It has nothing to do with heat cycling. The problem is bad genetics that became concentrated in some breeding lines because they were fixating on over muscling and super fast growth. This is the most likely match to what you describe.

  34. Piero Andreini says:

    Hello Walter,

    my name is Piero Andreini, I read in an old post you had (someware) an Exidy Sorcerer, Mac128K, PDP11 mini an HP-71B.

    Did you still have them? Would you like to sale them?

    Kind regards,


    • I don’t know. My wife says they’re clutter. To me they are memories and still interesting. I think the PDP11 is now mostly gone, scavenged for parts to build other interesting things. There are also some Mac512K and MacPlus. What would you offer?

  35. Teri Linneman says:

    Hi Walter! I’ve spent the past 24 hours reading about roundworms in pigs. We have Red Wattles and are in the process of setting up our portable electric fencing to train our feeders. My question is this: We sold a RW to someone in another state on Memorial Day weekend. The pig did great for more than 10 days after arriving at its new home. At some point there, she picked up a bacterial infection (per the new owner) and subsequently died. The vet did an autopsy and said the lungs and liver were very dark and that she had a large quantity of round worms. I’m horrified because I’m assuming she took the worms with her from here. My pigs are all fed fermented rations consisting of wheat, oats, BOSS, field peas, milo, flax, alfalfa, kelp, minerals, lime, DE, raw milk, ACV, garlic, cayenne & turmeric. Additionally, they receive boiled eggs as an added protein source along with fodder I grow. The piglets had been penned since their birth on 3/23 and were moved to grass mid-May.

    Should I get fecal tests? Or should I just bite the bullet and buy a commercial dewormer (even though it goes against everything I believe – but I don’t want to harm my pigs out of my pigheadedness) or should I increase the garlic, rosemary, etc. to see what happens? None of them seem to be in any distress but I’m a newbie to raising pigs.

  36. Dawn Carroll says:

    How much Turmeric are you feeding daily? And pregnant things are not supposed to consume Turmeric. I use it for the sows after they farrow to bring in milk. Turmeric does this because it flushes the uterus.
    And where are you buying your Turmeric? I get it in 25 pound boxes from Monterrey Bay Spice Company from California for about $4.80 per pound. I don’t buy the organic because I think that with Monterrey the spice is all organic. I think this because of one order when they substituted 25 Organic 1 pound packages because they were out of the bulk. They gave the Organic stuff to me for the same price as I always pay. The Organic is $9.50 per pound and the regular is $4.80 per pound (when ordering more than 20 pounds). I don’t think they would have done this substitution for the price they did…if this weren’t true.
    I use the Turmeric for a lot of things, sunburn, wounds, and fly repellent on the newborns. I had a litter of piglets whose mom wasn’t very giving with this litter and the piglets fought…cut each others faces and nicked their tails. Well this sets up a fungal infection of sorts. I used Turmeric powder on them every day and I didn’t lose one tail and their wounds healed up nicely. Normally the tails would just fall off after getting a cut on them.

  37. Dawn Carroll says:

    Walter, I was asking Teri Linneman the question about the Turmeric she uses, since she said she uses Turmeric….sorry I should have specified who I was asking!

  38. I am wondering if you are interested in buying goat milk for your pigs. We have a small commercial goat dairy and have surplus milk this summer due to a change in our market. We have up to 100 gallons a week for sale.

    • No, we don’t buy milk. Nor would I suggest any pig farmer buy it. The food value is too low and the handling costs are high to make it economical to pay for it. We take whey and milk as a service for stores, dairies and creameries which keeps it out of the waste stream and from sliding down the chaos slope. This saves the dairies money because it costs them money to dispose of excess. The government bans them from throwing it down the drain and frowns on spreading it on the fields. The government’s rule is the best use of excess whey and milk is to feed it to pigs or heifers. If you would like to deliver it here we can talk. It must be antibiotic free. Otherwise you might consider getting some pigs to eat your excess since it is a small amount.

  39. Julie says:

    I did a search on gentle boars because people who I have talked to around where I live all have heard that boars are mean to piglets and will eat them. I am just a new pig farmer. I got into it due to a garden on my place which was over producing. Anyway, I have decided not to butcher the two pigs I got but to keep them and raise them. They now have 11 piglets and I have not lost one. The two pigs are amazing with the piglets and the boar… all I can say is that he is an excellent husband and father. The day the sow had the piglets, he checked in on her hourly to see how she was doing. Then the days following he was the perfect babysitter. He really watches the piglets. He will let them crawl all over him and even let the piglets try to suck on his little teats. lol.. He is watchful when laying down to make sure he does not hurt them. I don’t have them running in the pasture at this time because I bought this place a year ago and they would get loose and run all over the place and find their way to the wild hogs. Instead they have a very large pen with a house in there. I take them food daily and they are well cared for. The boar loves to be petted… He minds well and takes discipline well. I searched because I could not believe I was the only one in the world who just got lucky to find such good and well behaved pigs. I am also glad to hear that boars meat is not tainted so I don’t have to worry about that.

    • Out in the wild boars would need to be as you describe and as we have experienced with ours – part of the herd and gentle with piglets. Otherwise they would kill off their offspring and be like bears where the female bears (also called sows) must fight off the males to protect their young. However pigs are more social and form herd groups. I suspect that the origin of the problem with boars is that when they have been kept in confinement people bred them for higher aggression levels and lost the parenting ability. Thus the mean boars may be a product of modern confinement rearing rather than a natural trait.

      As to taint, it is a real thing, there are some boars who have taint. To know for sure if your pig genetics with your feed and your management have taint or not you’ll need to test. See the article about boar taint and follow the links there for more details of what we’ve found over the years.

  40. reece osgood says:

    do you guys deliver if so I am very interested

  41. Tyler says:

    Hey sir, I was wanting to know do you buy hogs from other hog risers? Also if you do how much do you buy them for. Bc I rise them and sale them to people like you or a big slaughterhouse. Plz get back with me and God bless you

  42. Stasia says:

    I have a some what of a silly question, your website has a lot of helpful information and thought you may have some insight. There is a pig who is only 5.5 lbs and her siblings are 20-25lbs and they are 6 weeks old. Is it likely that she will reach normal size? She is not sick and is being treated well.

    • What is likely is that she has a congenital defect that makes her not able to digest or otherwise utilize nutrients or something else related to growth. The problem might be genetic but it could easily just be a random malfunction during development. The longer time means a higher cost if feeding grain but is not such an issue on pasture. I would continue to raise her but understand that she make take a lot longer to get to market weight and she may never get to a typical 250 lb live weight. If you don’t want to keep raising her then you could make her into a roaster when she gets to the size you want. 5.5 lbs is very tiny.

  43. Dawn Carroll says:

    Did the litter get iron shots? I live in an iron deficient area and iron shots or iron supplementation makes all the difference in the world on growth. The rest of the litter may be doing fine but if they are iron deficient then usually there is one may not grow very well.
    I have a litter now where there is one that is considerably smaller than the others but this one insist that it wants the tit that the bigger one is on…and it refuses to go find another tit to feed on. They are a little over a week old now so the other available stations on the sow have dried up from lack of stimulation. So for this one I am putting out goats milk & a commercial type pelleted feed. Mind you it only takes about one bag to get the one that is lagging behind to catch up…then they will transition to hay or pasture.
    Unless a litter is dragging a sow down I don’t wean before 7 or 8 weeks either so mine are usually 75 to 80 pounds by the time they leave here. I understand why breeders wean at 4 weeks (to try for that proverbial 3 litters per year) but for my customers and myself I get better growth out of the adolescent weaners by waiting just a few more weeks to wean. I have also found that socially the weaners who are weaned at a later age (7 to 8 weeks) do better for the kids than the ones that are weaned at 4 weeks. And I have had sows wean them on their own at about 7 to 8 weeks of age which tells me this is a natural and normal age for weaning.
    If your piglet were mine I would give him a couple of ml’s of iron SQ. I’ve had people tell me that it does no good to give them iron past 3 weeks of age for baby pig iron anemia but if it does no good to give something iron past a certain age when it is anemic then why is iron prescribed by vets & doctors to things that are anemic in order to fix the anemia problem… Mine usually get 2 iron shots one day 1 to 3 and another at day 10. If they look like they need more I will give them another at 4 weeks.

  44. David says:

    Walter, with 70 acres of pastured pigs how do you collect, gather the animals that are targeted for processing or sale, I hope this is not a stupid question, I just can’t imagine how you catch the animals you want in such a large area. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    • We use their habits, training to calls, livestock herding dogs, sorting boards and the pigs are not randomly on all the pastures but rather each herd is on a pasture at any one time. A pasture is typically a fraction of an acre to a few acres with a couple being ten acres – size depends on how many pigs are on it, forages and season of use. Thus we’re actually selecting from a much smaller area.

  45. David says:

    Walter, so they would be herded to some type of enclosure? Where they could then be loaded onto truck or trailer? Similar to how a corral may be used with cattle? Thank you again…this is an area i have always struggled with, i dont own any herd dogs.

    • Yes, there are corrals, simply small paddocks, near the whey troughs for example, which we herd the pigs to. This works easily and well because this is a normal part of their daily pattern – they’re used to going there. We close the gate behind and I walk around painting pig butts with X’s, O’s and stripes – sort of like playing tic-tac-toe. The selected pigs get moved onward for further inspection, selection or rejection. The final group of market pigs for the week then goes to the loading corral where our van is backed up. The van has hay in it so the pigs typically self load and sleep in there for the night if they want. Follow the above links to see more discussion about this.

  46. Cody holmes says:

    Any experience using garlic for worming goats?

    • I’ve never had goats so I can’t comment directly. We have had sheep. I have tested garlic powder as a dewormer on cats, dogs, sheep and pigs testing before and after for intestinal parasites and found it to be extremely effective. Since goats are similar to sheep I would expect garlic powder to work for goats too but you would want to do your own testing to find out. See Worms Au Natural for more details of our experiences with deworming.

  47. Drew Mureiko says:

    Do you happen to know of any legit research articles on the internet concerning the health benefits of pastured pork?

  48. deb says:


    You are an amazing resource for all things pig. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and helping us through our first 3 years of raising pigs. Our small farm, in Washington State, is gearing up to sell pork shares and launch a simple (compared to yours) website. I wonder about including links to your numerous pages of great information – would you mind? My goal is to further promote the amazing education/information you’ve made available and to continue to build support for humanely raised, pastured pigs. I look forward to hearing from you.

    • Feel free to link to anything on the web. Linking is the wonderful thing about the world wide web. It makes connections. The right way to do it is to either simply link using the anchor HTML or make minimally short quote and then the link. Here’s an example using the HTML tags for BlockQuote, Italic, Small and Anchor:

      With each generation we breed the best of the best and eat the rest. Gradually over time this results in the improvement of the herd, stronger animals adapted to our climate, better meat flavor, marbling, length, temperament, mother and pasture grazing ability to name a few of the traits we select for.

      and here’s how you might do the same thing inline in a paragraph: Walter said, “Breed the best of the best and eat the rest.” or just as a reference at the end of a sentence like this.[1] And if you want to get fancy you can use superscripts and footnotes.SMF HTML can be fun… :) Examine the code for this page to see how each of those were done if you’re not familiar with HTML yet.

  49. Dave Hawkins says:

    Hi Walter–

    I saw on that you surrounded your wood stove with masonry. Love to have some pics and any other key details you could share. I want to try that this winter.


    Dave Hawkins
    Kansas City, MO

  50. Steve says:

    Do you give the piglets Iron injections since they are pastured? Just wondering your thoughts. Thank You


    • We do not normally do iron shots. You should get your soil tested so you know what if any mineral deficiencies you have. Iron and Selenium are two of big concern. Iron shots, oral iron, kelp for trace minerals are all options. You may find these two articles of interest: Piglet Interventions and Mineral Deficiencies

    • Dawn Carroll says:

      I semi free range and I give iron shots because the sows milk is a very poor source of iron for the piglets. I find that giving the shots increases their growth, prevents 95% of the piglet problems like sours, joint ill, & anemia. And then again there is the growth factor.
      I have experimented with that growth difference in the same litters with or without iron shots. I will take two piglets that get stationed at good spots on the ‘milk bar’, that are the same size at birth and I have found that the ones who get iron shot do better than the one that doesn’t get the iron shot. The difference for me is too marked not to pay attention to the results.
      I either give them day 1 if I can or day 2 and again day 10…and if they look like they need a third I will give them a third shot 3 weeks after the second one.
      For me it is cheap insurance. I feel that even if they are out on the dirt they can not pick up enough iron to do them any good in those first few days of life. And they don’t start rooting or playing in the dirt until after 3 or 4 days anyway. If I were totally free ranging, like Sugar Mountain is, it would be difficult to say the least to get those babies their iron shots…but I have done it. I have a trailer that I take out that has feed in it for the sow…she gets in and eats & drinks and I tend to her babies.
      I normally farrow my sows in 12 x 24 ft stalls so at least I can kick the sow out to give the babies their iron shots or I have given them as she farrows and then I leave them alone because there are a few of my sows when they wake up from their farrowing stupor I don’t want to be in the same pen with them for the first few days…then they mellow and are mostly nice creatures after that.
      This is just my experience with iron shots or not…yours may be totally different.

      • Farmerbob1 says:

        I suspect that pigs are a lot like people in terms of their ability to acquire iron from the environment. There are genetic factors. Some humans can eat spinach and other high-iron food and still have iron deficiencies. Pigs likely can have similar issues, especially pigs from genetic lines that have been fed unnaturally balanced diets, even if the current living pigs are pastured.

        If your soil is not iron deficient, and some of your pigs still have iron issues after they start rooting, then you probably don’t want to breed them. Get rid of those faulty iron-uptake genes. Breed the pigs that thrive on your land.

        As for piglets, before they start rooting, I don’t doubt that there might be some benefit to iron shots, but is it worth the cost of the shots, and (more importantly) your time? Is there a difference in mortality rates or time to finishing size that you can tell based on shots or no shots?

        I will say that I am *not* a real farmer, so it makes me a bit nervous to poke at you like this, but so much of animal health is genetics, I’m curious if you have considered trying to modify your pigs’ genetics as opposed to medical treatments.

        • Dawn Carroll says:

          For my breeding line here I have several different breeds Spots, Berkshires, & Herefords…all from the older not commercialized breeding lines. The Spots have no Pietrain in them and they are not the modern lines…nor are they the show pigs lines but lines that finish well just grazing or on alfalfa hay. They do get garden items and other feeds when the season permits.
          My first experiences with piglets was from backyard lines that were raised in the dirt. There were 8 in that litter and 3 got sick due to piglet anemia… And they were not the smaller one in that litter but what seemed to be healthy piglets. There have been other piglets in the area that have died because of the many problems that piglet anemia allows…scours, pneumonia, and strep or navel ill as well as a few more…
          When I found out that I should try the iron supplementation I started doing that with the next litters out of the same parents. I had one piglet then out of 8 litters that year that had problems…but it survived. The previous 8 litters I had at least one or two problems in every litter and either they lived or didn’t.
          So for me giving the iron shots is cheaper and easier than treating with antibiotics which is something that I would rather NOT do…
          The ones that get the iron shots finish sooner than the ones who don’t get them…and I am talking about 3 to 4 weeks sooner. Now even if they were just out on pasture 3 to 4 weeks is a long time. The cost of the iron shots is 0.16 cents per piglet for each dose.
          For me that is 0.48 cents well spent…well…then there is the cost of needles which I change out for each litter. So I should add that in to…I have bottle top syringes that a 100 ml bottle fits on.
          My average wean rate over the year is 8.5 and how I got the .5 in there I don’t know. The national average wean rate from commercial producers is 5.
          Selenium is another element that plays a big role in the health of the sow and how she or any animal will shed the afterbirth and bounce back after giving birth.
          And yes I do cull sows & gilts that don’t have robust numbers of piglets and healthy piglets. I cull ones that don’t have good mothering skills. Most of the time though I will give a gilt a second chance if things really were not quite her fault that she didn’t raise all she gave birth too… I did have one gilt that seemed to think her piglets were tasty treats…I took the remaining 5 and gave them to another one that had a small litter and she raised them just fine. After the piglet eating gilt dried up her milk she went in the freezer. I also cull aggressive sows and boars too…but at the same time I understand they are animals protecting their young…but I need to stay safe above all else and 100% of that is up to me to be aware of my surroundings.
          I hope that answered your ‘poke’ and keep asking questions because that is how everyone learns including me.

          • Iron shots and antibiotics have nothing to do with each other. We don’t give antibiotic shots or iron shots but get fine piglets. A lot has to do with the soil, some with the pig genetics, some with the farrowing situation – pasture farrow like we do gives immediate access to dirt which contains minerals. Have you done a soil test to see what your iron and selenium as well as other mineral levels are like? Another trick is painting the sow’s nipples with iron solution – old time trick as well as putting some cast iron into the waterers or feeders or having them made of iron which puts trace amounts into the animal’s diet. That won’t help with newborn piglets though. Your experience also makes me wonder if different lines of pigs have different iron deficiency susceptibility. This happens with salt, selenium and other things so it might be true of iron too.

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