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  #1  
Old 10/14/10, 12:23 AM
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Heritage?

We have about 5 wooded acres and want to raise pigs in the woods to manage the overgrowth and, of course for the meat. I'm inclined to go heritage, but don't know if it is worth it. I'm having a hard time finding heritage breeders near us (LaPorte, IN), but even so, we were planing on just raising feeders and I don't know if the cost and trouble finding heritage breeds is worth it. If I'm not going to breed them, should I bother with heritage?

Thoughts?

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  #2  
Old 10/14/10, 01:08 AM
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Probably not. Heritage hogs tend to be better able to convert grass and forage into pork but a cross will almost always grow faster than any purebred. If you try to grow a feeder mostly on forage you are going to wait a long time for it to get to butcher size.

I've got some Large Black / Hamp cross piglets that are showing a lot of promise on forage but I will still supplement my keepers half and half with pig and sow feed to make them get bigger faster.

Now, if you don't mind waiting a couple of months, pork from Large Black, Gloucestershire Old Spot and Mulefoot will beat any other pork hands down. Just go ask the Cochin 555 folks.

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Large Black and Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs
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Last edited by HeritagePigs; 10/14/10 at 01:12 AM.
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  #3  
Old 10/14/10, 01:49 AM
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: IN
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If your not gonna breed probably better to go with a mix feeder hog.
But if you really want a heritage breed look around i live by Lebanon IN and i have found breeders for just about every breed but Tamworth with in an hour or two. I bought some feeders this year several pure bred berkshire and one landrace hog from a show breeder. after the 4H deadline most show breeders have leftover hogs they will sell you as a feeder but they will hold on to them till about may ish till deadline is up. even if you have to suplement feed Feeder hogs to get them to grow faster they will do a great job clearing out the undergrowth.

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  #4  
Old 10/14/10, 05:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jenniferfeeney View Post
We have about 5 wooded acres and want to raise pigs in the woods to manage the overgrowth and, of course for the meat. I'm inclined to go heritage, but don't know if it is worth it. I'm having a hard time finding heritage breeders near us (LaPorte, IN), but even so, we were planing on just raising feeders and I don't know if the cost and trouble finding heritage breeds is worth it. If I'm not going to breed them, should I bother with heritage?

Thoughts?
There is a "guy" in Northern Indiana who is raising American Guinea Hogs, thus you wouldn't have to search far. There is also a fellow north of you in Michigan who has that breed.......
These 300 pound darlings should clear your overgrowth PLUS be great eating.
The guy in Michigan is Menglish.
I forget what the "guy" in northern Indiana's name was, but he is not far from you(just outside Chicago), but "he" has commented on one of these pig threads.

Greg Zeigler
Alger, Ohio
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  #5  
Old 10/14/10, 08:54 AM
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Which heritage hog breeds are you looking for? Indiana is a hotbed of heritage hog breeders. IL tends to have a lot as well.

As for the AGH and Michigan there are 5 people that I know of in the southern half or so of the lower peninsula that have them. 3 active breeders, 1 breeder that may or may not be getting out (not sure what his status is) and 1 man who was raising barrows. But you wouldn't need to come to MI for AGH, if you wanted them. They're available right in IN.

All that said, I tend to agree with Brian. If you're not breeding them, you will probably get better results just picking up some cross feeder pigs and supplementing their feed a little.

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  #6  
Old 10/14/10, 10:43 AM
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Georgia
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There are some Mulefoot breeders in your area. Check out the breeders list on the American Mulefoot Hog Assn. website. In my experence, hertiage cross breeds would be the way for you to go if you can find them. I have some Mulefoot X Berk, LB X Berk, and LB X York piglets now that are growing very well.



http://www.dostersheritagefarm.com

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  #7  
Old 10/14/10, 11:35 AM
 
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Their is couple in n. ohio that have tamworth . i have friend in grand rapids mich who just started to raise tamworth .

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  #8  
Old 10/14/10, 11:55 AM
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I suggest researching the various breeds to find a description of the breed that would do be the best in you situation.

http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/swine/

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  #9  
Old 10/14/10, 12:52 PM
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I have found heritage breeders in Indiana, but they are either too far (southern, we are very norther almost MI), or they have not gotten back to me. I am trying to get my ducks in a row for spring, so researching now. Maybe it's a bad time? I'm also trying to find a reputable breeder...someone with a track record of producing healthy animals with as little chemical intervention as possible.

The cost of a heritage breed also concerned me as some look quite pricey and while I like promoting biodiversity, if I'm not going to breed them is doesn't make much sense to spend that kind of money (unless I can sell the meat at a premium, but I don't think anyone here cares if their pork is heritage).

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  #10  
Old 10/14/10, 02:51 PM
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Indiana has a lot of heritage hog breeders, but I think no matter where you are, if you want heritage hogs you have to be willing to travel a little to get them -- especially if you have a certain breed in mind. Sometimes you get lucky and you can find what you want locally, but not always. I would honestly say that if driving from northern IN to southern IN is too far, heritage hogs are not for you. People will pay a premium for heritage grown pork, but if you don't appreciate heritage hogs for what they are you're not going to be able to market them successfully at a premium price. If you don't believe in what you're selling, you either have to be a good conman (which I hope you're not.) or you're not going to sell it.

And that's not to mention that without breeding them yourself, even at that premium price you're not going to be making much on them once you consider all your costs anyway.

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  #11  
Old 10/14/10, 04:20 PM
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I can appreciate a heritage pig, but I also understand economics and if there is no market for them I can appreciate all I want but be stuck with my family in the hole (and where I am, there is, unfortunately NOT...my region is fighting double digit unemployment). Operating a business for the sake of appreciation with no regard to marketability is not a business, it is a hobby. I don't need another costly hobby.

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  #12  
Old 10/14/10, 05:00 PM
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Hmmm, perhaps "appreciate" was the wrong word. The only alternative I could think of however, was "understand" which was all wrong, too. What I meant to communicate is that the rarity of heritage hogs is part of their marketability, even as meat. If a few hour drive to the other end of the state is too far heritage hogs are probably not a good fit for you. Part of the point of the heritage hogs, at this point in time, is that they're not on every other hog farm in a 60 mile radius. The travel is part of the gig.

There's nothing wrong with you wanting to keep it close to home, it just means that your standard cross breeds that are easily found on the majority of hog farms will be a better fit.

In light of your newest post, though, I wonder what your ultimate goals are. I thought, from previous posts that your intent was to raise the pork for you and just sell some excess to offset costs. If your goal is a full-fledged business however, that changes things. Perhaps considerably.

IMO, if you're looking to make a business out of raising pork barrows are not necessarily a good model for you to base that business on unless you can find a prolific and incredibly reliable source of extremely low cost weaners -- which is unlikely.

There are people who have made it buying auction-house specials, raising them up to market and selling, but that model is not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced. Auction animals present a greater risk than those bought from a reputable farm, not only in that their supply is not guaranteed but in their unknown medical status and likelihood to have greater losses overall -- which the farmer has to absorb, even if the pigs were picked up at a great discount. There's also then need for greater facilities, more management, etc. in order to handle the biosecurity associated with bringing in auction animals.

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  #13  
Old 10/17/10, 11:21 AM
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NE Indiana
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I was reading the posts with great interest. We have a litter currently and another one due any day and we are in NE Indiana. We have 2 seperate lines on American Guinea Hogs to offer so that others may be able to buy a breeding pair or two. Our animals are well cared for and are very healthy. They are everything everyone says about themas far as temperment, personality, feed conversion and forageability. Their size is ideal and they are easy handlers. Just put out a feed pan or rattle the feed scoop and they will follow you anywhere. Mine absolutely love animal crackers and will follow me anywhere with some in my pocket to bribe them. PM me and we can discuss the many fine attributes of Heritage Breeds.

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  #14  
Old 10/17/10, 01:02 PM
 
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Jennifer, I agree with others here. The first thing is to clarify, at least for yourself, what your goals are.

If your primary goal is to feed your family, and sell a few more to cover costs, then the reasons to look at heritage breeds, are lower costs and better meat. The heritage breeds will take longer to mature, and likely eat more total food. But they will be able to forage more of it for free.

If you're looking at one batch of feeders per year, with 5 acres of woods, I would expect, 10 pigs. At 250 lbs slaughter weight, I would figure to keep heritage crosses 2 extra months vs regular production crosses, but feed each one 250-500 lbs less purchased pig ration in that time.

I'm breeding, and I'm paying New England rather then Indiana grain prices, but the fundamental tradeoffs are the same: keep them longer, pay more up front (even if only time and gas to get them), buy them less food. You need to do the numbers for where you are.

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  #15  
Old 10/17/10, 01:05 PM
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"Heritage" really doesn't help when looking for a breed that will fit your needs. All "heritage" means is that the breed is relatively true to its ancestors that were around prior to the beginning of industrial hog farms. It has nothing to do with its pork qualities, breeding proclivity, rareness or size.

Heritage breeds include Hampshire, Yorkshire, Duroc and others that are quite common. These have lean pork; other heritage breeds have marbled pork. Some heritage breeds have large hams and roasts, others have small roasts and hams but long bodies that provide lots of pork belly. Some are fairly small at maturity while others are huge. Some grow relatively fast to butcher size while others seem to take forever...

Hampshires, Mulefoot and Ossabaw are considered to be "American" breeds, although in fact there were no breeds here before the arrival of the Europeans. Large Blacks, GOS and others were imported here in recent times; although there are small numbers of these breeds in the Americas they are much more numerous in their home countries. Their genetics here also represent only a small number of bloodlines that exist in their home countries. So while it is nice to know that you are raising a "rare" breed, the term "rare" is relative.

Some heritage breeds are highly inbred and their litters show that. Small numbers of piglets, large numbers of stillborns and abortions, small piglet size, genetic deformities, these are all common in highly inbred herds. While some breed societies are actively working with breeders on selective breeding to improve their genetics and inbreeding, others are simply databases into which data is input, resulting in real concerns about the registry's integrity. Some heritage breeds are very valuable, both in terms of genetic material and economic value, while breeders of some others have just stopped registering their litters because the value simply isn't there.

So, the decision as to what "heritage" breed you should have is not simple. It really comes down to what you want and need. It starts with a realistic evaluation of your market, both local and national, or even international. If you can't sell it at a price that will make it worth your while then it is truly an expensive hobby. That's fine if that is what you want and anyone can get a good feeling that they are sacrificing profit in the name of improving the breed. If your market is based on sales of pork then you need to carefully select a breed that has large litters and fast growth rates. If your market wants marbled pork, that's great, but if it simply wants pounds of pork at the lowest price then you could easily have a herd that can't pay for itself. You also need to know whether you can sell pork "whole hog" or only the chops, hams and ribs.

I have developed a market that wants rare breeders and so my herds reflect that. I also have a cross herd for the folks who want marbled, pasture fed pork at a relatively low price. But I have to serve an international market to make it work and that requires a lot of marketing cost. I also have to pay special attention to my hog's needs; I pay for premium feed and spend a lot of time and money keeping the pastures and woods productive. My process will not work for someone who doesn't have the time or acreage; I spend more than ten hours each day working the farm and utilize every bit of our forty acres.

When you are doing your research, make sure you know exactly what market you can serve and what resources you have. If you don't do that work first it is very easy have a an unsustainable business model. Once you've done this work, the breeds become obvious as you evaluate each breed as to whether it can provide the product you need.

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Large Black and Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs
Homegrown Acres
Heritage Hog Breeders Club!


Last edited by HeritagePigs; 10/17/10 at 01:18 PM.
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