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Old 10/06/09, 12:56 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 355
Eating Pot Belly Pigs – How I Do it.

Before we start with the post I want to offer my apologies for the pics, they were taken with my cell that desperately needs replaced!

I’ve been there done that on catching flack for eating PB’s… There’s tons of fat, you don’t get enough meat, how can you eat someone’s pet, Isn’t that illegal?, you can’t… fill in your own blank.

95% of the people that make these statements will either stop talking or admit that they’ve never butchered a PB if confronted about it and will start talking about how sally’s sisters friends half brother twice removed told sally’s 2 year old son about it once upon a time. Simply put PB’s are still pigs, NO you are not going to get 200lbs of finished pork from one but you’re also not going to have to buy a new freezer, pay a butcher bill, and can likely raise the meat for little of nothing if you do it all yourself.

I’ll get off my soapbox and get on with the post…

I butchered a PB that was just shy of 4 months last week, The longer you wait the more meat you’ll get but I prefer the younger animals and rarely will butcher past 9 months at the longest. It took me a little over an hour to clean, skin, quarter, ice out, and clean up all the while taking time to teach one of my friends 14 & 15 year old sons how to clean a pig. This is one of the first differences between a full size market hog and a PB, it would take me at least this long to kill, gut, & skin a 200+lb hog.

After quartering the PB I soak them in ice water with a bunch of non-iodized salt. After 2 days in a salt brine (replenishing ice as needed) I’ll move the quartered pig to large plastic bags and place in the fridge as near the bottom as I can get it for about 3-4 days to age it out a bit more. After that time I start trimming what little fat is on the pig and start breaking it down into cookable cuts.

This is the point that a Full size hog has a PB beat hands down! There are not going to be any chops to speak of on a PB they are about the size of an old silver dollar, and all of the cuts are going to be much smaller. I split the rib sections and leave everything attached to the ribs and have extra meaty ribs that’ll knock your socks off.

I debone the hind legs and slap them in the freezer for a few to stiffen up a bit and slice into pork steaks that are very reminiscent of chops from a market hog. Please note in the picture that ONE leg is laid out on the platter in the pic, ate the other before it crossed my mind to take pictures. The scrap from the shank goes into the grind pile.

It’s not worth it on young pigs to mess much with the front legs and I simply remove the shoulder roast on both and cook them at the same time, at four months they’ll only weigh about 2lbs a piece which works out for our family of 4 if we cook them both.

About the only thing left are the bones, meat scraps, and the belly flaps. On the PB that I just did there was roughly 2lbs of fat and 3lbs of trimmings, to make 60/40 sausage there’d only be about ½ lb of fat left over to go in the trash. I’ll normally just save the meat scraps and we make a Chinese style teriyaki dish out of them and will get at least 2 meals this way.

The bones I cook down in to stock. The belly flaps get a coat of adolph’s seasoned meat tenderizer and rolled up and placed in the freezer until pretty much firm set, once they are almost frozen you can slice them and make a surprising similar replica of thick cut bacon without going through the trouble of curing and smoking for what amounts to about 2-3lb’s of meat. (it’s not exactly bacon but taste like bacon with a hint of Canadian sausage.)

All in it takes me about 2 hours to process a PB from hoof to freezer, the PB in the pictures was only about 4 months old so the total take is lower but there is still about 10 meals worth of finished meat. (a little over 20lbs)

The main power of the PB’s in my opinion is the cost of raising them! I have a grand total of $2.00 for the ice use in processing this pig, it was given to me by a friend as a thank you gift for a favor. I’ve raised 4 now and have never went through more than a bag of GP feed using mainly table scraps and what not for feed. With PB’s I’m able to raise my own pork for about 30-40 cents a pound finished in the freezer in a worst case. The pig that give me these pictures cost about 9 cents a pound finished, it would have been less if I hadn’t bought the ice to transport over to my friends house and if you don’t count my time. The first two I raised we had $2.50 in each one at 5 months.

I consider PB’s to be a good source of great tasting protein with a very limited expenses, we normally get these as rejects from breeders for free. One could just as easily keep a breeding pair and raise the piglets for meat. So long as they are feed correctly they produce excellent pork, eliminate most of the major safety hazards with full size hogs, (which I still like and am not finished with BTW) and simply put they break every taboo placed on them by the pet market which is dying faster than a fly sprayed with raid.

Could not get pics uploaded on the site so I added them at: password is potbelly (sorry for the PW, some of my city friends still think that meat naturally comes wrapped in plastic from the grocery store)
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Old 10/06/09, 01:55 AM
MissyMoo's Avatar  
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Newman, California
Posts: 206
I think its wonderful how you do the above, you have it all planned out so well.
I too do not like the flack >_<
I was considering raising PB's for meat to sell and use for my family, but I figured with all the flack out there and myths about PB's, that I figured that I probably wouldnt be able to sell many due to the above ignorance that you mentioned, so I am going to be crossing my huge female potbelly (we believe she is a mix with a farm pig) with a hampshire boar to have meat for us and sell the rest of the piglets to the local public. I guess I will have to list them as Hampshire crosses (to avoid saying the two words = "potbelly" and "meat or pork" all in the same ad).........Ridiculous!
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Old 10/06/09, 02:38 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Arizona
Posts: 1,370
I raise pb crosses - VERY cheap protein. Easy to butcher. My thirteen year old son can do it.

Thanks for all of your details - I might use some of those tips next time!
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Old 10/06/09, 09:08 PM
None of the Above
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: NE Kansas
Posts: 1,739
What is your 'dispatching' method. I have been considering doing it myself.
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Old 10/07/09, 02:25 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 355
Originally Posted by fixer1958 View Post
What is your 'dispatching' method. I have been considering doing it myself.
.22 point blank to the head while eating grain.
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Old 10/07/09, 09:22 AM
Gailann Schrader's Avatar
Green Woman
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Indiana - North Central
Posts: 1,955
THANK YOU fellow PB enthusiast!

I call them Asian Heirloom Hogs when I'm around "sensitives."

LOVE your description of the pet trade. Once the market is fully glutted (it's pretty much there now), I'll have more PotBellies than I know what to do with as once someone knows you'll take them? You'll get them. Mostly FREE.

So far I've had plenty of meat for the table, gotten a 4 year old barrow given to me that I'm using as a rototiller in a pen that the goats lived in for 8 years(yeah, they root but not like a full-size hog and he'll make the pen into compost and be quite a bit of meat), and have found a "long-nose" sow that has an extremely long loin that I plan to use as more breeding stock. And I bought her son as a boar because HIS loin is long too (and he's a pretty tri-color - livestock needs to be nice looking)!!

So far? My girlfriend (HEY, Bonnie!) and I have spent $40 (not counting feed of course) on all my AHH/PB that I've procured over the last like two years... I now have 12 pigs in varying sizes and, as Windridge Farm points out, it's a pantry on the hoof (to paraphrase) and I've got a freezer with plenty of pork in it... AND I don't have to worry about processing fees, dirty handling, etc. of the meat I put on my table...

It's a fabulously easy animal to raise, cheap, cheap to feed (I feed a hog grower with no issues - they actually prefer pasture or hay - I feed the leftover hay the goats won't eat), easy to butcher for one person, and easy to wrap and freeze.

Great ideas, great commentary, keep those LOW-COST PB/AHH animals coming! At some point I can see that I'll not even have to have sows farrowing as they'll be so many of them I'll be begged to take them... The rescues are FULL of them as they are cute and fun when they are little, but not so much full-grown.

Oh, and I got given a pygmy doe that will be butchered as well. Pygmys are meat goats, don'cha know... Really. They are. Look it up.
Radically conservatively un-biased liberal.
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Old 10/07/09, 09:47 AM
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Pook's Hollow
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 4,570
Thanks for the info!

We almost got a breeding pair of PB pigs a couple of weeks ago. The person emailed DH and said we could pick them up and to call for directions. When we called, she said she "forgot" and had given them to someone else.

Half Caper Farm - breeding Saanens, Boers and Nigerian Dwarfs
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Old 10/07/09, 01:39 PM
MissyMoo's Avatar  
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Newman, California
Posts: 206

This is a photo of my large potbelly sow named "Bacon".
I am going to raise at least one baby out of her for meat for us. I am looking forward to trying the meat after all I have heard on here about it. I am crossing her with a high-quality hampshire cross boar.

Eating Pot Belly Pigs – How I Do it. - Pigs
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Old 10/07/09, 06:56 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Baree, Mount Morgan, Queensland Australia
Posts: 615
I wish we could have PB pigs in Oz. but no go. Mick
Mick&Karin Blake Karmic Aviaries, Sculptor,Potter www.karmicaviaries.comThere is only one God,Only One life so live it to the full,no regrets as you are dead a long time"Mick Blake
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Old 10/07/09, 07:57 PM
farmergirl's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Austin-ish, Texas
Posts: 5,001
The photos in the above link, of the processed meat, show alot of fat. That is one of the reasons that people don't like PBP's for meat. Even though we have pet PBP's, I can understand someone slaughtering ones that were raised not as pets but for meat. I suppose if you are looking for a lard pig, this might work out okay.

We'll stick with our berkshire/ hampshire and berkshire/ duroc/ chester white crosses.

Thanks for giving the detailed explanation and link to the photos. Very educational.
"Perhaps I'll have them string a clothesline from the hearse I am in, with my underwear waving in the breeze, as we drive to the cemetary. People worry about the dumbest things!"
by Wendy
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Old 10/07/09, 08:26 PM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 355
Farmgirl, the plate in the front right is the scrap fat. What little fat is on the meat was left there for cooking purposes, it’s almost to lean as far as marbling and I only trim to within about 1/16 of an inch on most cuts to keep it from drying out. I commonly do the same thing with a regular market hog. The pictures don't do justice to the meat, about the only cut that'll have any further trim work might be the ribs so long as they don't go on the grill. If I was to render every drop of fat on this pig I'd be lucky to get 1lb of lard, after the cost of rendering it'd likely be cheaper just to buy it.

I prefer hamp's to just about anything else for large scale production but I personally find they just don't stack up to these little guys on small scale production dollar for dollar. There is no right or wrong in my opinion, I’ve done it both ways and PB's are never going to be a substitute for commercial hogs. If however you are just looking for meat for your personal consumption I don't think they can be beat... Although the more I hear about guinea hogs the more I think they'll give them a run for their money.
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Old 10/17/09, 11:58 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Georgia
Posts: 20
What about full grown PBs? I find people giving them away, but dont know if it would be good for processing. Usually boars are what's free.
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Old 10/19/09, 12:00 PM
Gailann Schrader's Avatar
Green Woman
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Indiana - North Central
Posts: 1,955
Boars don't castrate easily the way "normal" hogs do. There is an inguinal ring that needs stitched or there is an open "hole" into the intestines. The testicles are more into the body than externally expressed as in normal hogs. As always, hold the animal and feed for a month to run through any wormer or other chemical they may have in their systems.

Boars, if there is any strong smell (and Walter says to not feed out with feed - hay or pasture is better) or taste (boar taint), you could always feed to your dogs, grind and flavor as sausage and/or bbq. Wild boar tends towards gaminess so if you like gaminess? It's all good.

That being said? Free is free. I wouldn't have any problem taking free.
Radically conservatively un-biased liberal.
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Old 10/19/09, 07:02 PM
Sugarstone Farm
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 811
Thank you Ryan in NC for posting this! After reading your post I decided to butcher my own hog instead of calling the butcher.

I had a 10 month old Guinea Hog and after skinning and gutting, cutting in half, we weighed the two halves and had 50 pounds of hog. I had a friend's son cut up half the hog for me, he used to be a butcher and he said there wasn't any more fat on him than on a normal hog. This was our first butcher hog of this breed and they are lard hogs so I wondered what a butcher would think of the carcass...

The meat got rave reviews from family and friends this last saturday! It was an un-cut boar that is housed next to females, though none were in heat at the time we butchered him. Excellent pork.
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Old 12/08/09, 06:35 AM
Laura Workman's Avatar
(formerly Laura Jensen)
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Lynnwood, Washington
Posts: 2,475
Hi Gailann, Do the people giving you these pigs know you're going to butcher them? If so, how do you explain it? I've had trouble even buying full-priced breeding stock when people know I'll be raising them for meat.
The basic message of liberalism is simply: The true measure of a society is how it treats the weak and the needy. A simple Christian message (Matthew 25:40). -Garrison Keillor
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Old 12/08/09, 09:24 AM
Gailann Schrader's Avatar
Green Woman
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Indiana - North Central
Posts: 1,955
The fellow that gave me the 4 yr old barrow, now butchered btw, BEGGED me to butcher him. He had him for his "petting zoo" and Wilbur got big, got tusks (mini things that I smiled over - only about 3" long), and got aggressive. Even as a barrow he showed aggressiveness that was not desirable in a petting zoo animal. The fellow was also very irritated because Wilbur would put his snout down in the pasture and PLOW it up from one side to the other. Grubs and worms and other delectible delights for a pig I'm guessing. Natural for a pig? But us humans abhor the sight of tilled pasture, seems like. LOL.

Wilbur butchered out after I'd held him for over a month to make sure all was "clean" with him. He did have an large amount of fat, but that's what I wanted for my soap and dogs going into winter. His fresh hams weighed 8# each unboned. I was very pleased. I have 16# of grind to make sausage with. And I save the foreshanks for browning for pork & vegetable soup. Lots of gelatin and flavor there if they're browned first. Front shoulders, loins, etc. Simply perfect. Oh, and the previous owner? Wants me to make soap from the fat and give some to him. Wow. REALLY disliked that pig! So butchering him was the INTENTION of that owner. And he didn't want him to go to waste. He bought a YOUNG pig from my friend to replace Wilbur. My friend is a breeder and had given this guy my name as someone who would utilize the meat. Thanks to my breeder friend! She "gets" it. Not all pigs are pets... I got Juanpiggie (my boar) from her. Lenny (the young long-loined tri-color boar) is gonna be a fine fellow. Juanpiggie will probably go into sausage at some point...

Anyway. To your specific question. I tell the owners (mostly people frustrated by pigs natural tendency to root and grunt and eat and grow to 110#+) that I will give them the best possible home as best I can. And that they are going to a farm with other pigs, horses, chickens, guineas and goats. That seems to make them relax a bit. However, if the animal becomes aggressive or has some other issues, I will do what is necessary. I ALWAYS hold the "foreign" animals for at least a month. I can assess how they will interact and make decisions about their future. I tend to buy gilts or sows as their value to me is evident.

If the owners are adamant that the animal cannot be butchered for any reason or want $50+ for an older pig or for their pet? I'm polite, observe their setup (you can always get tips on how to make YOUR place more efficient) and I pass on them but give the owner my name and phone number. I have gotten calls later to "COME AND GET THIS PIG! FREE!"

Sad really. We all want our animals to have a forever home, but that doesn't exist. Ever. Our forever is not like Black Beauty where the animal gets to live out it's existence under an apple tree...

Yeah, I'm heartbroken about their animals too? But I'm more heartbroken that human children go hungry and cold. I don't beat my animals, feed them well, give them straw and comfort from the elements and dispatch them humanely.

I could die tomorrow and then who would take care of MY animals? As my girlfriend Diya said one time, quietly, when I was instructing her how the animals should be fed and cared for after my death, "It won't be the same. It can't be the same. You'll be gone and we'll go on. And maybe your animals won't." She's very wise.
Radically conservatively un-biased liberal.
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Old 12/08/09, 05:39 PM
MissyMoo's Avatar  
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Newman, California
Posts: 206
how do you make soap out of the potbelly's (AHH's) fat/lard?

oh and I wanted to tell you that I traded a couple small nigerian goats for 2 potbelly/AHH girls (sisters). they are 3 1/2 mons and sooo cute. black and white. I named them "Lucy & Ethel".
Now i have 3 female potbelly pigs and 1 boar. plus 1 poland-china/spot pig young female and 1 young boar.
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Old 12/08/09, 06:12 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Posts: 1,470
We butchered and BBQ'd two about 5-month boar PBP's who had within the last month been around our big pigs in heat. They would have been interested if they could have reached. They tasted wonderful! Everyone who participated are enthusiastically looking forward to the next ones we're given. There's a gentleman about 100 miles away who raises them for the pet trade, but has been giving us the extra boars he can't sell. I have to say, I'm thrilled.

We also raise Berkshires, but these fit on the BBQ and, well, free is cheaper than I sell the Berks for anyway. Just enough fat on these two for flavor and tenderness, no extra at all to do anything other than eat.
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Old 12/08/09, 06:45 PM
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Location: Near Charlotte NC
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this is an interesting thread! How much space is needed for them? I'm always looking for new ways to feed us ourselves. I have a large backyard with tons of acorns in it. Its fenced in completely. Are they hard to keep in? Noisy? Could I process them by myself? If for nothing else other than dog food and lard this might be a good idea.
You can say what you want about the South,
But you never hear of anyone retiring and moving North.
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Old 12/08/09, 11:27 PM
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AKA "mygoat"
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: MI
Posts: 12,296
I've been thinking of bringing some home, myself. I do most of my butchering myself. I'm a 19 year old girl, a whopping 120lbs on a 'heavy' day - so small is the way to go for me! I also raise miniature meat goats that get about 75lbs full grown because it's a size I can handle from birth to table, all by myself.

Can you keep potbellies in with goats, on pasture? I've heard pigs will eat other animals like chickens or baby goats. If not, I have a separate area for them. I've never owned pigs but I've wanted to - I need to get a good book on them first I think.

I've been seeing ads for PPB's for about 50.00 each, seems priced well. Some are the 'micro' ones, though I'm not sure what that means besides them being really small? I assume that's a pet market thing, huh?

I'd like to at least keep them in our garden during the fall, winter, and spring. They can till in there as much as they want, and fertilize it as they do!

Dona Barski

"Breed the best, eat the rest"

Caprice Acres

Small herd of French and American Alpines. CAE, Johnes neg yearly. CL abscess free herd. ADGA plus herd (LA, DHIR, DNA)
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