Buying, raising, killing, eating PotBellies

Discussion in 'Pigs' started by spring77, Dec 12, 2004.

  1. spring77

    spring77 Well-Known Member

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    I have some questions about Potbellied Pigs as livestock.
    I'm getting married this spring and my fiance and I want to live the homesteading life. I would like to raise some of our own food, I already garden and have raised most every kind of livestock at one stage or another but I have not done any butchering other than chickens and turkeys. It seems like a potbellied pig would be the ideal next step for us. The smaller size would make them less intimidating to butcher and also a more reasonable amount of meat to deal with as a couple, even though we are planning on getting a chest freezer or two very soon. So my main questions are the ways in which potbellies differ from other pigs as livestock. I've raised pigs up to slaughter on farms I've worked at so I'm familiar with the basic process.
    How easy are potbellied pigs to come by. I want to raise them for meat, they are typically seen as pets in the US, can you find people who'll sell them for meat very easily? I don't want to lie to someone just to get my hands on some pigs. I also don't want to be attacked as a cruel murderer either. How much should I be willing to pay? Regular feeder pigs go for around $30-50 around here. It seems silly to pay a lot more for what will end up being a lot less pig. I know that I could just butcher a regular pig earlier but I am actually WANT a really lardy pig. I make a lot of pie and lard makes the best crust. It also seems like the best option for homestead produced cooking oil/fat. So since potbellies get so lardy I am interested in them anyway.
    So does anyone have any input? Where can I get potbellies for the pot? How do I get them without lying about my intentions?
     
  2. leaping leon

    leaping leon Well-Known Member

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    I did a lot of research on potbelly pigs for meat starting about a year ago. There was a book on the subject of raising potbellies for meat, it was printed in England, but I have not been able to acquire one. I also am attracted by their small size, and I wanted their fat for soap making, cooking and other purposes.

    Potbellies mature earlier than other pigs, some people say they will breed as early as three months. There is a great variation in size, possibly because less scrupulous breeders were selling crosses as pets a few years ago. I also have read that "farmyard" castrastion doesn't always work well, that you lose a large number of males that are castrated "at home" but considering the source (someone who thinks potbellies are almost children) I'm not taking this too seriously. I have read that they don't root as much or as destructively as the traditional hogs do. I met someone who said she had eaten potbelly meat and it tasted just like regular pork.

    I would search the web for breeders who sell to the meat market. Here in Florida I sometimes see them advertised in the state market bulletin:
    http://www.florida-agriculture.com/fmb/index.htm and also in Ocala4sale:
    http://ocala4sale.com/animals/cattle-livestock.php
    Here I sometimes see them for sale for $50; I have seen ads for them to be given away, but I don't remember if they were intended for pets or not. And there are somtimes ads for potbelly crosses. I also found a place online that wanted $350 for a bred potbelly sow, not including shipping by air (ouch!$$$) but they were selling for meat purposes, not pets.

    Good luck, and keep us posted.
     

  3. leaping leon

    leaping leon Well-Known Member

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  4. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to be so late posting here but I've only been on the site for a few days and just found your post.

    A few years ago I butchered a pot bellied pig that weighed around 100 lbs that my cousin had given me. Out of that 100 lb pig I wound up with less than 15 lbs of meat. They have a layer of fat around them you would not believe.

    My wife bakes a lot and she uses lard quite a bit. Even with commercial hogs that we butcher now we always have lard left before we butcher another one. I think you'll be disappointed with pot bellies for meat. They are just too lardy.
     
  5. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    One of our members on this board, GeorgeK, raises pbp for meat. He has them in a pasture situation and says they are lean pigs. The way they are raised and fed makes all the difference. PHP, from everything I've heard, have a propensity to get fat especially in a pet situation. That said, I think genetics plays a role in this somewhere as well. Case in point, we just butchered a wild sow over the Christmas weekend. I couldn't believe the amount of fat on the carcass. Our hands were slip sliding during the cleaning. I was thoroughly disgusted. Kept the same way as evey other wild pig here, this girl managed to accumulate more fat than all the pigs we've butchered combined. She was however the least looking razorback we've ever had also. I think she was too crossed with domestic. She was purchased as a piglet- not bred here. Another option you have is to raise a domestic to 150 pounds instead of 250. Less meat and more tender. Faster growth than a php but I doubt much lard. Good luck.
     
  6. tbishop

    tbishop Well-Known Member

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    I don't know how I missed this earlier, but I'm in pretty much the same position as you. I want to raise a smaller, leaner breed of hog. Marcia has been a BIG help to me. Another member posted this site in response to a question I had. I think you'll enjoy this link- I did.

    http://www.windridgefarm.us/potbellypigs.htm

    Good stuff all around.

    Tim
     
  7. were also looking into breeding PBP for meat. Was wondering what all can you do with the pig fat?
     
  8. inc

    inc Well-Known Member

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    looks like that windridge guy has the right kind of stock=with most of the lard bred out.
    guess that makes it a 'pan belly' pig
     
  9. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

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    I've been out of commission for a while, just getting back. Potbellies make a wonderful small scale organic pork. Pasture them. Don't have to baby them. I don't have ANY vet bills for them.

    http://www.windridgefarm.us/potbellypigs.htm is the page you will want to read
     
  10. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

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    since I bred out the lard pig from them I dont get much fat anymore, but back in the day, I rendered lard. You would not believe the taste difference of using fresh lard to make biscuits or deep frying as opposed to what is purchased in the store. Rendering lard is very easy. Start by refridgerating the fat to firm it up. Cut it into cubes, and then put it in an iron dutch oven over low heat and wait about 4 hours. Stir occassionally until the cubes start to float


     
  11. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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    good link georgek. i appreciated the sensible comments about pet pigs made in it. thanks!!
     
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    bravo

     
  13. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

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    "A Real Farmer" is 100% correct. My LGD gets her PBP fat in the form of pig heads. After butchering, I bake the head whole to alter the scent, let it cool, then give it to the dog. She loves them! The vet asked what we give her for treats since she seems so healthy, when we said pig heads, he thought we were joking.
     
  14. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    My husband and I were talking about perhaps raising a pig or two, and you've got my interest here with pbp. Is it practicle to think one could have just one sow and raise litters with her? Or, like my sheep, are they better off with a buddy? Could they be pastured with the sheep? How much space does it require without destroying the pasture?
     
  15. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

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    if you are going to eat the litters, you will need a boar, and he can be her buddy. It depends on how many sows you want for how much meat. I usually get 25 pounds of meat from a 9 month old, growth is slow after the first 9 months and the feed to meat ratio drops after that. If you go totally natural my sows usually rasie 3-6 piglets out of usually 9-12 born. If you wanna bottle feed and get very hands on, you could have more piglets.
     
  16. A Real Farmer

    A Real Farmer New Member

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    To raise PBPs for meat, as with all smaller livestock, there needs to be a slight shift in the attitude of the farmer. Most people who raise the larger species are accustomed to just buying a weaner pig or two from the farmer down the road and feed it "up to size."

    With all smaller livestock such as PBPs, it's much more practical and economical to make a one-time (or fewer times!) investment and buy breeding stock to raise your own litters. A boar and 2 sows are a nice starter herd of PBPs, and when you buy them, you won't need to worry about butchering somebody's pets, because the ones you buy will be your foundation stock; you will eat their progeny, which will be born on your own farm.

    Most pet pig breeders are pretty open minded and would be more likely to work with farmers like us, but it's up to us to educate them to the fact that small farmers are the only hope of the species.
     
  17. spring77

    spring77 Well-Known Member

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    Right, that makes sense I guess, I think I want to feed and butcher one first to see how we like it before I get into the PBP raising business :)
    I guess we'll just get a standard feeder and kill it young. Is there a method to feeding pigs to emphasize lard over growth. My understanding was the modern hog genetics were for lean fast growing pigs. Is there much lard on a typical 120-150 lb hog?
     
  18. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    This might be a dumb question, but is the pot bellied pig have another name?
    Perhaps where they originated, are they called pot bellied pigs there?
    Seems that Pot Bellied Pig just doesn't sound much like a breed name to me, but I know that's what everyone calls them.
    Just wondering.
     
  19. Rob30

    Rob30 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    First- how big would the proportions be on a pot belly. I would imagine the roasts and chops would be very small.
    Second- How about a cross bred. Will a pot belly cross with one of the smaller other breeds. I am thinking a pot belly boar and a couple of females from another breed.
    I would consider them just because I don't have experience with pigs, and the size is easier to handle. Is the pot belly a nice tempered pig. I am afraid of getting a couple pigs, growing them out and having some bad tempered pigs that would hurt my other livestock or worse my kids.
    I plan on getting some to graze and clear some rough areas this summer.
     
  20. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Rob, the pbp's I've known have been very easy going. One of our big parks get's a lot of unwanted animals, and pbp's have been among them. Aside from being uglier than sin, they're very docile and good tempered. And yes, they will breed with other breeds...if you do, make certian the larger breed is the sow. Don't know which would be the best type of cross for you.

    Haven't read anywhere about space needed...anyone care to offer up suggestions? If we went the trio route, with a boar and two sows, what would be the smallest space you'd consider keeping them in?