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.

487 Responses to Contact

  1. Dawn Carroll says:

    The reference to antibiotics was to treat a bacterial problem that can arise from one of many sicknesses that piglets can get due to piglet anemia. Many of these illness that piglets can get occur in confined operations
    I did cull out that first line I started with because of their susceptibility to strep. I haven’t had a strep or joint infected piglet in quite a few years now… and it has been two winters ago since I’ve had a pneumonia case.
    I know I have a selenium shortage here so the sows that are close to farrowing get a handful of a vit/min supplement and with this addition I quite having any placental retention problems.
    I have several different lines here spanning 3 different breeds…the lines of pigs that I did have the most trouble with oddly enough has been the Hampshire breed. The Berkshires I rarely have problems with.
    The Spotted line I have has no Pietrain in them and are old farm type lines that are grazers and those piglets are just big strapping babies…like they are half grown when they are born.
    I had some problems with lameness & deformities when I was feeding soaked organic wheat middlings…(they were also getting some pasture) When I quit feeding the wheat not only did the arthritis problems go away but reproduction went up and the deformatives (is that a word) also went away.
    I was utilizing feedstuffs in my area that were castoffs from an organic seed farm in the area. I’ve fed milk products, bread products, sugar beets, eggs, etc but my main feed is alfalfa hay, some rolled wet COB, garden waste when I can get that, and pasture when the hay is not in production. I do not grind anything they get because they have teeth that are made specifically to grind their feed to their own digestive system.
    So when things are not working I do change what I am doing. I feed what I feed more for my convenience and ease of feeding. I could go to the bread stores still and get the crap the bakeries put out…including donuts, HO HO’s, Twinkies, bread and the likes but that stuff isn’t good for me so even though it is a cheap feed source I have to consider my time & travel to obtain this feed. The same goes for the milk products. The availability of the milk was spotty and one never knew until they got there if there was going to be milk in the waste tanks or not. I figured with the time spent & money for fuel to get said free stuff just really wasn’t worth going and getting.

  2. Farmerbob1 says:

    Walter, you mentioned using cast iron in feeders. Is that sufficient to keep pigs iron levels healthy? Just go to the thrift shop, and buy some old cast iron frypans or dutch ovens, and toss one in each waterer? I do realize that if you have a lot of pigs drinking, they will individually get less iron out of the water, but it intrigues me that they might get a substantial part of dietary iron needs from water. Does the iron in the water attract them if they have low iron issues? Does it cause aversion in some pigs? Should some waterers have iron pieces in them, and some not? So many questions!

    The idea of simply dropping some iron in the water is so simple, it’s fascinating.

  3. Ted Heistman says:


    Your dogs look like old fashioned Alaskan sled dogs, which were originally all purpose dogs kept by Native American tribes throughout Canada and Alaska. Their traits are really strong. Most sled dogs today that are raced professionally are mixed breeds, with lots of fast running breeds like saluki and coonhound mixed in. Even so the Indian dog traits are very strong and come through. Racing dogs are bred to be small these days, but they used to be in the 100lb range generations ago. In Denali National Park in Alaska the Rangers there keep an old line of sled dogs of the original type. They look almost exactly like your dogs. It doesnt surprise me that your dogs can guard livestock. All dog breeds come from indigenous type dogs. So really, they can do anything.

    here is a link:

    • Fascinating. Long ago, in another millennium, I lived in Alaska – twice. Fairbanks, Anchorage and the Kenai. I’ve read research that says that the ‘wild’ wolves are natural ranchers, protecting from other predators and culling their herds of livestock / prey.

  4. Carol says:

    looking at curing and smoking my Christmas ham as we do our own bacon without all the junk. looked at your ham and after brining do you rinse or just smoke or what.

  5. shannon Davis says:

    Love your blog, I have just found it.
    I live in south georgia and my wife and have been wanting to start a farm to support our family and to raise children in that life style. I’m real interested in doing a pig farm much like you have. I’m saving now to try and buy 25 to 30 acers cash. Would love to hear you’re thoughts on things to do and not to do when I first start.

    • My suggestions are:
      1) Plant apple trees, or what ever works in your climate, and other perennials every year.
      2) Set up a strong perimeter fence – worry about paddock divisions later.
      3) Do feeder weaner pigs the first year or two to get the hang of things – don’t jump in with breeders in the beginning.
      4) Plan on making mistakes, make small ones, grow slowly.
      5) Enjoy the rewards of life.

  6. Mary Morales says:

    Thank you for your wonderful site, I wish I was in VT, so we could purchase your pork!
    I came to your site while trying to find info on taste of pork. I make a lot of bone broth with pork neck bones, hocks, etc. Sometimes, my husband and I get a batch of pork that has a bad smell and taste…it has a very “barnyard” smell to it. This happens more often with hocks/feet but sometimes but often with neck bones, too. My husband believes it may be from male pigs…he grew up in Nicaragua and said it was the male pigs that had that aroma. Do you know what we are referring to, and why some packages of pork may have those qualities, while others do not? We are not purchasing pastured pork, we get the neckbones at various local grocery stores, including Walmart.
    If you know of any farms in Wisconsin/Illinois/Minnesota who raise pigs as you do, I’d love to know of them.
    Thank you for your help, it seems you are a very busy person!

  7. Amy Miller says:

    Help please!! I am just starting out i have 2 young breeder gilts that are pasture raised. Ive got a sick 1. She started getting really drooly lastnight & acting like she was trying to pop her ear. By this morning she was holding her head to 1 side. I’ve checked in her ear as much as possible but she gets snappy so i know it hurts. There is some swelling & clear fluid. She has now started a cough. She still has a good apitite & she is still drinking. Is it just a cold or am i looking at a respiratory problem or possible pneumonia. This just came on her pretty quick. Any ideas or suggestions?? I have given her Pen just to be on the safe side.

  8. Kathryn says:

    Hi Walter,
    I am hoping you might offer some advice on some hogs that I’ve gotten recently. I purchased a family grouping of some American Guinea Hogs, which are known for their docile temperament. Two days after I got them, one of the sows bit me on the leg (not cornered, in pasture) after kind of following me around closely. I got the water bucket between her & myself, and got out, with her following in close. In the few months since then, I’ve split up the family group, but had similar experiences with the shoats– one bumping me on the back of the leg, then biting me, and trying to bite my hand repeatedly when I scolded him for the bite; a gilt swiping me on the leg intentionally; etc. I initially thought the hogs were scared of being handled and tried to handle them in a calm and kind manner (scratching their back or head, talking to them). I am wondering if I needed to do something different from the beginning? Or if I somehow happened to pick up an aggressive line of a breed known for its gentility? Should I consider selling the sows as brood sows and allow someone more experienced to work with them, being that they’re both proven mothers of a rarer breed? Or do I send them to the butcher? As for the shoats (currently 50 lbs), I suppose same question, though waiting the months until they’re sizeable seems like a long time at this point.

    • There is a myth that certain breeds are docile and safe. I would not trust that. You’re new to them. They’re new to you. You’re going to have to get to know them and they you. You need to work on taming them and possibly eating the aggressive ones. I eat mean people – it solves problems. e.g., cull. Pigs are big animals, have sharp teeth, strong jaws and can bite, step on you, trample you, etc.

      • Kathryn says:

        Thanks so much for your reply. All of the hogs, save the shyest gilt, are now very comfortable around me and not fearful at all of touch. Will having one aggressive gilt in a pen teach the other two aggressive behavior? How long would you give working with the two sows to see aggression subside? There’s one boar shoat in particular who will bite any chance he gets. Should I butcher him now, despite his small size? Sorry for so many questions, I am new to all this!

  9. Dawn says:

    Pen needs to be given for 7 days if it is the daily pen and every other day for 10 days if it is the long acting pen but I would call your vet. They may have something better like Draxxin…which is a 14 to 17 day ONE time shot of antibiotics.

  10. Matthew altland says:

    Hello from TN. When a gilt is first farrowing do you put them in a harrowing house or do you let them narrow in the open pasture. I know it depends on the mother but what are the losses letting them narrow in the pasture. When you put wire around the farrowing nest with the small space for mother to get out do the other mothers respect that space? My first gilt is due end of March I like the idea of farrowing in the pasture compared to the huts but I don’t want a lot of loss what do you recommend? Thanks for your time and advise if you farrow in pasture do you leave them out in the elements or provide cover?

    • In the warm months they are out on the pastures. They naturally seek privacy in the brush of the margins, build a nest and defend it. In the winter months we have farrowing paddocks with open sheds available containing deep bedding packs. See the articles about farrowing for more details.

  11. Justin Tinelli says:

    My name is Justin, I currently attend culinary school in the ADK mountains. I am interested in the possible purchase of half a pig, I would like it left intact I see that option listed on you page, what I’m wondering is what would the cost be if I picked it up at your farm? From what I gather from your website is that the half pig would be around $580 plus $40 slaughter fee for a total of $620 ish? Is that correct, are there any fees that I have missed in my reading?
    Thank you,

    • The price is $5/lb + $40 for the slaughter. A typical half pig is about 90 lbs – the final bill depends on the actual pig hanging weight measured after slaughter. There are no other fees if you pickup at the farm. For delivery along our route it is $15 extra. I’m currently scheduling for April. To reserve send a deposit of $100.

  12. steven robinson says:

    My husband is trying to breed his sows they have had piglets before but now they are not catching any thing he needs to look for.

    • Sows can lose fertility. It can be temporary from eating some types of plant or some diseases or it can be permanent. It is very hard to know. Does he vaccinate them against reproductive diseases? I would suggest FarrowSureGoldB. Is their feed moldy? Molds can produce mycotoxins which kill fetuses and prevent successful pregnancies.

  13. Dessa Dale says:

    Walter, your site has been a go to site for me in starting our farm. We have been raising pigs over this last year and are just moving into breeding with our first pair of Berkshire Sows. We have been using heritage crosses for our pork, and our customers have raved about the flavor, but the biggest complaint has been fatty bacon. We have limited pasture to raise on, but we do a diet of hay, pasture when possible or if we are tilling our pasture, local fruits and veggies, and a ration mix of field pea, barley, and wheat. If you have limited ability to have them graze your pastures, do you have other suggestions on how else to reduce the fattiness. Thanks so much!!

    • Sounds like the calories are too high. Try reducing the caloric input and using more hay/pasture. The grains are the most likely source of your excess calories so that is what I would gradually reduce. Increase the hay ration to free fed if it isn’t already.

  14. Brandon says:

    Howdy, Interested in hearing any information based on utilizing pigs to combat tree stumps. I have heard that this is possible but wondering if its a good source to begin the work of removing stumps.

    Cheers from Craftsbury VT

    • Hmm… Pigs have a mythical reputation for taking out tree stumps that I find is not deserved. If you want them to work stumps then bore holes with a ship’s auger bit deep into the stump, fill with corn and then molasses and pour the molasses liberally over the stump. Then they’ll work it more. I find it is not worth the effort. The stumps do produce regen which the pigs eat and eventually rot away. Perhaps if you had carpenter ants infesting the stumps the pigs would be more interested in the stumps but we don’t have a lot of those. I find patience is the best cure.

  15. Teri Linneman says:

    Are wheat midds nutritionally acceptable in hog rations? If so, they’ll be replacing the wheat (whole grain) portion (around 55%) of the ration. The remaining ingredients are BOSS, field peas, oats, barley, Redmond’s minerals, Redmond’s salt, kelp, DE, raw milk, ACV, garlic, cayenne, and turmeric.

  16. Lizz Smith says:

    Hi Walter! After reading nearly half your posts … which has become my latest .. um obesesion … I mean hobby … by the way … I feel like I know you :) Anyhow, I have a couple of questions I was hoping you could answer when you have time. I have 70 acres of raw forest land that I’m hoping will work for pigs. Could pigs be raised mainly on forest lands? I live in Springfield, Vermont so climate is the same for us. I have lots of nut trees and will be planting mature apple trees/pawpaw trees/plums in the next month when selective logging is complete. There are random open areas with ferns and plants … wild berries … and decomposing fallen trees with bugs :) I want to start with 2 bred females (from you) and then purchase an unrelated male (from you if possible) after piglets are born to help with future litters. I’m assuming I could pick out one piglet to keep from one of the two litters, which would then give me three ladies and one boar on a permanent basis. Litters would go after that for the most part, some possibly raised for slaughter. What size forested areas would be ideal and how many separate areas to rotate to and how long in each area? There’s a lot more sun in there since logging has started so we should have a lot of under growth coming up soon. I have a few natural wet areas … 2 natural ponds and some swamp areas for water /wallowing. I have to get fences up before my husband will agree … darn men .. lol always wanting a plan. Lol one other question … I read somewhere that you can’t have goats AND pigs because they will get sick. Is this true? I have 6 dwarf goats. I’m sure I could pen them off somewhere else but I need to know if it will cause illnesses. I’ve thought about adding meat goats in the future but I don’t want to if they can’t be on the same farm as pigs. I wouldn’t have babies as the plan is to buy up unwanted dairy goat kids n raise to slaughter so eating babies isn’t an issue :) one last question … my husband’s only hesitation is deer. We are avid hunters. Someone said if I put pigs on the property I will never see deer … any experience with that?? Fences would be low enough not to bother deer .. I was thinking something like 8 and 14 inches for electric wire fence? I also have chickens that I use excess eggs for my 4 dogs … Belgian malinois … as they are all raw diet. Once we have the pigs I will have eggs for them too. I love the idea of having pigs on a more natural diet too :) thank you! Lizz

    • Forest around here does not have a lot of food value. If you have oaks or other nut trees then it will have more food value in that season. But most of the sunshine is being caught by the canopy of trees. The sun drives the energy of the system. The solution is to thin the trees so more energy reaches the ground to drive the growth of ground forages like grasses, legumes, brassicas, millets, etc. This is what we did. It takes time. Our pastures are savanna style: a mix of open ground for low forages, brush and trees. This provides a good mix of food, wind block and storm shelter. When thinning the trees you may be able to get significant money for lumber and firewood that can then go to developing the fencing and pasture seeding. I would suggest leaving line trees and end trees for fences, leave the apple, nut trees and such. Leave some conifers for shelter. See this article and start on Pig Page following links for grazing to find more.

      I thing that is just a myth about pigs driving away deer. We have hundreds of pigs and we have lots of deer in our woods and field.

      Eggs are a wonderful pig food. Cook to double the available protein and help resolve the biotin antagonist problem.

      • Lizz Smith says:

        That’s exactly what we have started to do! Yes the tree value has paid for my super expensive driveway through shale boulders :) Gotta love Vermont :) I can’t wait to get the fences up! We now have the correct number of trees for forest management that allows undergrowth to get sunlight so there will be lots of plants come next spring. Sadly we had to remove all beech trees due to threat of beech blister but the oaks are amazing … we have lots of white oak with great production. I’m going to start dropping some seed in the areas the pens will be. I also hope to have an open pasture or two. The powerlines that will run up to the house will also be about 50′ wide and a mile long so I’ve got some ideas for that too :) What do you think about goats with the pigs? Any problems you know of?

  17. Nic hunt says:

    what is the sizes of space in your south weaning paddock? I have a 160ft by 120ft pen I wanted to divide and grow off 4 hogs at a time but I wasn’t sure if my space was large enough.

  18. Nic hunt says:

    How large are the paddocks in the south weaning paddock pictures? I have 160ft by 120ft pen I wanted to do some rotational grazing with 3 to 4 pigs from wean to market and wasn’t sure if I had a large enough space for that many. Thanks

    • They vary from perhaps 8’x32′ or so up to about 16’x 100′ or so. They include both open pasture and some wooded area for shelter. It is a total of a tenth of an acre divided up into ten paddocks that start small and get progressively larger so that as the weaner pigs grow through their 20 to 30 day time on that area they have more and more space.

  19. Nic hunt says:

    Ok thanks. Mine should be 15ft by 120ft each . Maybe that will be enough

  20. Colton Dow says:

    Hi Walter,

    Didn’t see, but could have missed a discussion on how you farrow your pigs. We currently have only ten sows. We are breeding for three farrowings per year each. We are selling piglets, roasters, whole and half as well as retail pork delivered and sold at our store.

    We have our pigs working five acres at a time reclaiming a slash/ clear cut in hope of renovating to pasture for cows.. after seeing your pastured pork I’m curious if we could develop a large pasture pork business with more sows instead of switching to all cattle.

    Right now our sows are all on pasture with our young stock and boar. We are moving our close up sows from the field to our farrowing barn where we have bumper rails and piglet boxes all set up for easy cold weather farrowing. Some sows have had piglets out in pasture during mild months and had good success, but we always moved them into the farrowing barn after delivery. My biggest fears with this are predators, chilly nights and other pigs in the herd.

    looking for some of your experience with farrowing in cold weather,in groups and without piglet heat lamps for year round production in New England.


    • There are a number of articles on the topic. Basically we field farrow on pasture most of the year and then in private winter paddocks with one to a few sows in the winter snow months. It is important for the sows to be able to have a private place to call there own where they can build a nest. The right sow genetics matter. See the article “Lay Lady Lay” for thoughts on that.

      I wanted to raise cattle since I was a child but could never make the economics work and it is a crowded market. That may change now that we have our own butcher shop online and as we bring our slaughterhouse online. Future projects. For us pigs worked and we were able to carve our niche.

      Cold weather farrowing is far harder than the easy season, the golden season. Avoid the winter if you can. I do it but don’t like it.

  21. Sooze says:

    Hey Walter

    Tried emailing you and the server says your email is full – tried to send you an email.

    S x

  22. Sooze says:

    Your system is on the blink again, tried to send an email this morning – rejected

    Sorry I have to run, so haven’t got time to repeat the message here – not that I think you would want me too!!! LOL

    S x

  23. Rachel says:

    My sow has just had her last litter weaned at 8 weeks and today broke out and made a sneaky visit to another enclosure, where her son from a previous litter resides. After fetching her back I’m pretty sure that they had done the deed. I did not see them tie but she looked as if she had been mounted etc and had been flirting with her neighbours for days.

    What now? A there anyway to abort her pregnancy? Not only is it her son but I do not want another litter from her this soon.

    I have internet searched over and over with still no clue as to whether it is possible to end a pig pregnancy.

    Huge thanks for any advice that you may be able to give.


    • Mistakes can be eaten. Yes, you could induce an abortion but I would not. If you really want to do it then raspberry root is rumored to work, mycotoxins from moldy grains too. Better yet, check with a vet.

  24. Dawn says:

    There is absolutely no reason to end her pregnancy if she did get pregnant. Inbreeding is not something to worry about as long as you don’t take those offspring from this mating and breed them back to their own relatives again. Littered animals have so much more genes to work with than do say people or single birthing animals. In the horse world it it not at all uncommon to see Father-daughter or Mother-son mating and a ton of 1/2 brother-1/2 sister mating. I’ve seen pedigrees with one particular horse show up on every line starting in the 3rd generation of pedigrees. This type of breeding turns into line breeding.
    So unless you didn’t ever intend on breeding her back so soon, or needed to wait to breed her at a later date, or were going to put her in the freezer there really is no reason to end this pregnancy. Doing so could result in an incomplete termination which would leave her with a possible infection.
    If you really want to terminate her you can put her on Matrix (Regumate) for 10 days, wait 4 days and then give her 1 ml Estrumate for 3 days all of which is expensive and requires veterinary involvement.
    But again just because she was bred by her son really isn’t a problem in pigs…after all they are only 1/2 related to each other.

  25. Dean says:

    Hi Walter
    Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge.
    My question is , how long after mating will the change in clitoral direction happen ?
    As one of my gilts was pointing down yesterday, but this morning it is pointing up, does this happen overnight ?
    Western Australia

  26. Dean says:

    Thanks Walter
    Yes today she is a bit puffy as well as a definate direction change, I will continue my observation.

  27. perry mckay says:

    I’m looking to purchase live animals 50 pigs and 50 boar goats if possible we are located in the Bahamas if you sell live animals please send me a quote for the amount above and lets begin the process of payment and shipping.

    • We have not sold internationally. We just sell at the farm gate. You would need to figure out arrangements for transportation. We are currently sold out into at least winter. If you are able to handle the transport and import veterinarian and other issues then drop me an email at and we can discuss details. We don’t do goats at this time, just pigs.

  28. Paul says:

    Hello and thanks for your time.
    I am a resident in California in the high desert. I’m looking into and researching about starting my own little breeding of pigs. For food. I was wondering if you could give me some pointers or suggestions on how I should start. I have 2.5ac of land.

    • Start by reading the Pig Page and then follow the links on there to articles about feeding, fencing, grazing and other topics to learn how we do it. Your climate is very different so you will have new challenges. I expect that water and sun are going to be two big issues for you. Pigs need shade and water.

  29. Jess says:

    Hi! We recently had a sow farrow out in the pasture under a willow tree (even though we provided her with a port-a-hut). It’s starting to get cold here in the Catskills with rain expected Saturday, and temps in the 30s Sunday night. The piglets are now 4 days old and while seem a bit chilly, are active and healthy looking. They are guinea hogs and from what I understand are quite hardy. I do fear the piglets getting cold AND wet this weekend might lead to hypothermia however…

    Should we attempt to move the port-a-hut so it is directly over the nest before the rain comes? I don’t want to upset the mom but feel we have no other choice. The only other option is to remove the piglets/mom from the nest and somehow get them across 2 acres back to our barn. This seems much more difficult.

    Also, do we need additional fencing around the area where the piglets/nest is located? We have an electric fence around 2 acres of mostly flat pasture, but it also has some brushy boggy land near the river which they are located are very close to.

    We have no idea what we are doing, so any tips would be appreciated! We adopted 3 females so we wouldn’t have to deal with this, but one of them to our surprise was pregnant the whole time. She must have conceived a day or two before she left her previous home.

    Thank you!

  30. I would like to find out about reserving a baby piglet and how to get it and how much in the process can you please call or text me thank you very much

  31. Dawn says:

    I’ve had to go out into my 52 acres and bring in a sow and piglets to the barn a few times. I have a two horse trailer that is low to the ground. This trailer is a walk thru trailer with a tack in the front. I take the trailer out, park it right next to the nest, put her food and water inside, when she goes in I shut the doors. Then I catch the piglets and put them in the front compartment. I drive back to the barn unload the piglets, give them their iron shots and put them into their stall. I have one corner in the stall that has a panel across the corner and I house my heat lamps behind the panel. I then unload the sow into the stall and usually all is well.
    If this is not an option to use a trailer to move them then I would move the port-a-hut over top of her nest just as quietly as I could. I would also throw in some straw and provide food and water for the sow & piglets. Since they are the breed they are these are hardy pigs but the little ones are just too little to withstand cold and wet at this time.
    If you can’t get the port-a-hut over her, I’ve moved sows with the welded wire panels. I have two that are tied into a circle that can be put over a pig (400 pounds max) and two people can move a pig this way with another person carrying the babies in a wheelbarrow or a 5 gallon bucket. Sows can get rather testy when you make their babies squeak though but guinea pigs are pretty mellow but still quick to defend their young.

    • Jess says:

      Thank you Dawn & Walter for your valuable input! To our relief, the sow moved herself and the piglets into the hut before the rain came. We didn’t have to do anything. They are much smarter than I expected! I supplied them with extra hay/bedding and have been bringing food and water out daily. It is getting cold but they seem to be happy and thriving. The snow doesn’t start here until early December. I think by then they will be big enough to lure across the pasture into the barn. I’ve heard this breed can take the cold but I still worry. The previous owner said her last litter was born on the coldest day of the year when it dropped to -20 F at night!

      • Dawn says:

        Excellent news! Animals have been taking care of themselves long before man ever intervened…but still when they are in captivity we do have to provide for their needs.

  32. Gord Christiaens says:

    I’m wondering if I can put wiener pigs in with some 5 month old pigs or will thy fight with each other?

  33. Gord says:

    Hi can I put my new 8 week old pigs in with my older
    5month old pigs or will they
    Fight. I have a 110×120 Ft outside pen I’m keeping
    Them in. Thanks

  34. Helen Kuhnsman says:

    I just read a post on permies where someone from your crew posted about trying to breed a quieter roo. I am just wondering if you have had any success? I think you’d make a ton of money if you did! 😃

  35. Christina M Baker says:

    WOW ! so happy I found your informative site online. I am attempting to make bacon and ham without adding harmful additives to my cure. Thank you SO much for posting your experiences with doing that. We are in the interior of Alaska and just harvested 6 exceptional pigs. Raised with love and respect by fellow folks from Vermont.(my neighbors). We had quite the harvest gathering and neighborly effort in processing our meat. I for one am always interested in providing the best and least chemically additions to our daily diet. Thank you again, you information has been a HUGE help! cant wait to keep follow your blog.. sincerely Christina M Baker
    Salcha, AK

  36. Jess says:

    This is our first winter with 7 American Guinea Hogs (1 adult, 2 ninth month olds, and 4 two month old piglets). We usually let them forage out in the pasture with just a little supplemental feed & table scraps. The ground however is now covered in snow.

    How much feed do you think we need to provide this growing group of 7 now that winter has arrived? They haven’t left their hut much since the snow has fallen to forage.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


    • I don’t know in terms of grain or commercial feed since I don’t feed commercial hog feed. The general rule with pigs is to free feed to get rapid growth. However AGH are a fatty pig and you might want to feed them fiber like pasture/hay first, then veggies and then any supplemental grain based feed late in the day. Since your winters are cold then boosting the calories helps.

  37. Farmerbob1 says:


    I know it’s a holiday weekend, and the beginning of Winter as well, so you are likely very busy, but I’d appreciate a response to the email I sent you the other day. I suspect I know the answer, but assuming is something I don’t like to do.

  38. Neda says:

    I was hoping to get your best opinion, i follow your page and have learned quite alot from you.
    I am new to pigs and have had two gilts farrow successfully a couple months ago. Our third farrowed last night, and the temperature dropped down below -25C. She had a farrow hut and two heat lamps, had a litter of 8 around 1am. Went to check on her this morning around 6 and all the piglets were gone, lost in the hay or squished and frozen. Would you recommend giving her a second chance, calling it bad conditions with the cold weather and it having been her first litter? Or is it bad mothering and bad genetics and to move on and get a different sow or gilt?
    Thanks for your time

    • First see these two articles:

      My guess is you put loose hay on the nest. If the hay was added by you then it would be loose and can cause what you describe. It is far better for the sow to carry the loose hay from a distance and build the nest, packing it with her sharp pointy feet and all her weight. That creates a proper dish shaped nest and avoids this.

      Go ahead and give her another chance. Winter is by far the hardest season.

      • Neda says:

        Thank you for your response, we had put hay in her house since it was quite cold. Next time we will let her do all the work and make herself a proper nest.
        Thanks again

  39. Brian Rogers says:

    We love and live your blog!! I have started selecting purebred Berkshire sows to begin a pasture raised program in western Arkansas. I will definitely cull hard toward our needs. I’m knowledgable about what is offered on the market for Berkshire genetics, lots of which have been raising in feedlot settings. So research is helpful!!! Where did you acquire Spitz your Berkshire boar? Do you know his genetic line or if he has a registration number I could look at his pedigree? Any help may give us a different genetic resource! Many thanks Brian Rogers owner of OuachitaMountainValleyFarms.

    • Spitz was a bit of an accident, one might think at first glance. He was given to me when his previous owner wasn’t able to keep him any longer. I’m always on the lookout for good genetics. Like with Spitz, I test them in the real world on pasture, observe how they do, how their offspring do and select some to bring their genes into our herds’ genetics. Berkshires, such as Spitz, are interesting for their high marbling.

  40. crystal hess says:

    Hello me and my boyfriend is looking to buy a baby boar and wanted to know if u sell them alive we live in tn and we wanted to know what u would charge us for the boar and shipping it to us thank u crystal

    • Sorry but I do not ship live animals. You can pick them up here at the gate or arrange with a livestock transport company for delivery. The animal will need veterinarian inspection which is about $150 typically plus the cost of the pig. See the Piglet Page for pricing and details.

  41. Mark says:

    Thanks for providing so much information, Walter. I’m changing careers to get back into ag and I’m looking to get a full-time job to fund my farming initially. I’ve got an offer coming to work for a conventional farrowing operation and another at a very small start-up dairy where I would also have access to pasture (far more than I’d need to start) and a good supply of skim milk. I would love to take advantage of the skim milk with pastured pork but I’m concerned with the biosecurity risk inherent in raising pigs and working in a farrowing barn.

    I’ve spent some time in a micro-biology lab and created a mold remediation business using a broad-spectrum biocide treatment, so I’m fairly well versed in dealing with micro-organisms. The prospective farrowing employer uses a shower in/shower out system in all their barns and I would look to set up proper biosecurity on the other farm, but I’m not sure if that would be enough. I would love to take advantage of the resources I’ll have available to raise my own pork, but I won’t place either group at risk. Do you think that it’s a manageable risk or is it an absolute no-go? Thanks for any help you can give.

  42. Hannah says:

    Hello Walter!
    Thank you for all of your information that quickens the learning curve for all of us beginners! I have been reading all of your posts specific to boar taint. We overwintered five sows this season. Our boar is a Red Wattle, and we have not yet tasted any of his off-spring for boar taint. However, I do smell a strong odor when he becomes frothy around females. Is this smell natural for any boar and does it tell us(or not) if his line has boar taint? Thank you for being such an awesome resource!

  43. Kari-Jo says:

    I have a female berkshire, she shakes her head a lot, like there is something in her ears. I brought in another female to keep her company and it came with lice (bonus :( ) Could the lice go down in their ears? I am treating with veggie oil with neem (organic) and rubbing them down with it 1 x per week. It took me a while to figure out they had lice. I did put just plain oil in her ears (like you would a dog or cat) was this a bad idea? Is there something I can do to help my pig. She is eating, drinking and acting fine otherwise. Secondary question-I feed 2 pigs 14 pounds of feed a day and they act like they are starving, they are not skinny, is this just how pigs act? Is this not enough? 80% Hog grower, alfalfa- wet and oats and barley-fermented. All organic Thanks

    • She may well have something in her ear. The lice are a possibility. I have never had lice on our pigs but I’ve talked with people who tried the vegetable oil down the midline of the back, under leg crotches and in ears and found it effective. Ivermec is the other highly effective treatment for parasites including lice. The ivermec may also solve the problem of the pigs not gaining – Intestinal parasites can cause that issue.

  44. Finn Barlow says:

    Hi, I am not sure if I’m posting this in the right place?. I am looking for any advise. I have 3 breeding sows, one is fine and has a healthy first litter of four, 1 month old. The second farrowed 3 days ago with a large litter with a few squashed in the first night, the sow fed them and was fine for 24 hrs then she stopped eating and just lay there and died with bloody discharge from her nose. The third farrowed a day later than second and she is off food and has dark blood clots from back end and looks like she wont live past tonight. The vet came today and tested for anthrax which was negative, but they didnt have any more ideas. Perhaps you might have any clues as to what is wrong with them with your experience and any comments will be much appreciated. We have the litter of 9 from the second in a box in the porch which our children and friends and exited to bottle feed but I am hoping they dont have some desiese which can spread .

    • The first one could be a number of things including an aneurism in the lung. Hard to tell from here. The fact that you’re having a second one suggests either something communicable such as a disease or a toxin in the environment or a mechanical problem such as hardware disease (eating metal parts, etc). Glad the test was negative for anthrax. I hesitate to second guess the vet since they’re trained and their on the site with the animal. If you find out what caused this please let me know.

    • Farmerbob1 says:

      It’s been a couple days, so it might be too late, but have you contacted any local university or agricultural center to see if they might be interested in performing an autopsy, considering that mysterious livestock deaths might potentially mean a disease?

      I know nothing about where you are from, but if you live near people who seriously do not like pigs, it is also possible that they were fed something with glass or metal in it.

      I know that there were incidents of Islamic refugees in Germany feeding dogs sausages with razors in them. Pigs would possibly get the same treatment.

      Hopefully it’s nothing like either of those seriously bad scenarios, but you really need to know what it was. If you have to, going into the corpse of the dead animal yourself to look along the digestive tract for damage where something left the digestive tract and damaged the lungs might be in order. If the other symptomatic animal lived, they might have passed sharp glass or metal and survived it. Pigs are tough.

      If it was a disease, you might alert authorities to an outbreak in time to allow vaccination of humans and/or animals.

  45. Magnus says:

    Hi Walter

    I appreciate that you are busy, but am hoping to reach you here.

    Basically I noticed that you own the domain and am interested to purchase that domain from you.

  46. Kristal Oiler says:

    I have a 2yr old Hampshire Sow who I thought was bred around October 21, 2017. Her vulva is very swollen, her teats are now dragging the ground, and I can see and feel the baby piglets kicking around. She has a cocoon type nest built. No milk from teats. The teats look bigger each day. She allows me to rub her; it even puts her to sleep lol. She is and has been restless for days. She jerks when she is resting. This also has been going on for days. She still eats but it takes her some time getting down and back up. How much longer does she have? This is her 2nd litter and my first litter. I could have gotten her dates wrong. I know she was swollen and draining clear liquid from her vulva when I put her in with the boar. I keep checking on her frequently. I even have a game camera on video watching her. She’s up moving around every 2-4 minutes during the nights. Her last litter, she had 8/10 survive. Not sure on the reasoning for the 2 losses as she wasn’t with me at the time. A friend gave the pair to us in September 2017. Any insight would be greatly appreciated! Thanks

    • Sounds like she is getting close to farrowing time and everything is progressing well. I would not be worried.

      • Kristal Oiler says:

        Ok, thanks.
        This evening her vulva is sagging. Getting aggressive. And she is having a clear discharge.

        • Kristal Oiler says:

          My Hampshire delivered this morning. I went out at 5am to check on her. Nothing. I expressed milk last night so I knew it was close. At 10am, she had delivered 11 live and 1 stillborn. I saw what I presumed was the placenta. 45 minutes later, she delivered another still born. Still no placenta/after birth. She still acts like she’s in labor but only twitching or shivering. I have 2 heat lamps on her. Is it possible she has another piglet in there? Or is her body just trying to deliver the afterbirth?

          • There are normally two placentas since they have two horns to the uterus, occasionally just one or three. It can be quite a while before the placenta comes out. Since she’s well delivered the others I would not be too worried.

  47. Kristal Oiler says:

    Well, She delivered another stillborn this morning (Monday) taking her total to 16 piglets. 5 total stillborn. I gave her a dose of Penicillin this evening per the vets suggestion. She is not eating very much. I tried to get some oral calcium down her without much luck. She is allowing the piglets to nurse but I’m concerned about her.

  48. Annabel says:

    Good Evening, I’m hoping you are able to help us out. Unfortunately we had a first time sow farrow the other night and it was not a good birth at all. The piglets were tiny, 4 were born alive, four followed stillborn and none survived. We were heartbroken to say the least and not sure if we have missed something here. The sow is fit and healthy, fed fresh produce, fruit, yogurt or milk with some bread. About a month and a half ago we started sprinkling kelp on their food. Could the underweight piglets have been caused by a mineral/dietary deficiency? We are not sure if she went full term as we ran her with our boar and this is our first time seeing a pregnancy through from beginning to end. Our other gilt is also pregnant and I just want to avoid a repeat performance, if it is something we could do differently. One other quick question is, in your opinion, should we re-breed this sow? She is a gentle girl, her mother was a first time sow and delivered 8 no problems. Our sow, showed signs of wanting to take care of her young, but because she had a difficult prolonged labor, was unable to (also as soon as we saw how tiny they were, we doubted they would be able to survive). Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • My first guess is that there may be a reproductive disease issue. Did you vaccinate her with FarrowSureGold B or similar to protect from the common reproductive diseases? I would recommend doing so.

      Second guess is mineral deficiencies – the kelp is a good solution.

      Third thought is eating raspberry roots or similar but that is not likely in this season.

      Fourth is mycotoxins in the feed – mold. Avoid feeding moldy feeds to gestating sows or small pigs.

      I would vaccinate and rebreed for another try since none of these are indicative of genetic predisposition. If the problem repeats then I would lean toward culling due to possible genetic weaknesses.

      • Annabel says:

        Thank you so much for your quick reply. I really appreciate it. I am looking on line now and contacting our local farm store to purchase some FarrowSure Gold B. Is this safe for us to give to our second gilt? I believe she is due in roughly a month’s time. Thanks again, your blog has been invaluable in helping us get set up with our pigs. I couldn’t imagine farming without having pigs and it is great to be able to glean from your experiences.

  49. Tammy says:

    Do you sell Strap Back? My parents used to make scraps with it. So if they don’t skin the pig then it should be available.

  50. Annabel says:

    Hi, I have a quick question for you. We have a boar that is roughly 400 – 450lbs and we are currently running him with our young gilt about 3 months old. We have another gilt that is just 6 weeks old that we will add to the group once she is a bit bigger. Is it okay to keep them with the boar, or is it best to separate them until the gilts are big enough to handle his advances? Thanks for any advice you can give.

    • With our pigs the gilts won’t have any sexual appeal to the boar at that age and should get along fine. Ours generally don’t first take until eight months although a few Lolitas do as early as six months – unusual and no harm. Not knowing your pig breeds though I can’t say for sure as I have read that some come into fertility at very young ages. I would keep a close eye on the situation.

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