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Discussion Starter #1
So far we have been breeding AGH and enjoying them a great deal. We are in the midst of an experiment with a small AGH gilt and AHH boar to see how "sustainable" we are able to be with smaller hogs.

Our next project on the table has been to find a suitable larger breed to mix the AGH with to see if we can have a mix that will get us a faster grow out (maybe 6 or so months vs. 1 year to butcher that we have off of our pure AGH.)

I found a nice GOS gilt to breed our AGH boar to in early spring, the trade off will be a couple of gilts for us. I am happy with that trade as we can grow them out and see what we think. I would keep my favorite as a breeder and put the other in the freezer.

Our pastures are small and I don't want to "over pig" them :)

What I am trying to research now is if there is a general percentage way of figuring out what the growth projection will be along the way. For example, if I grow out our "experimental" litters of tiny hogs to 6 months, is there a way of estimating what their weight would be at 1 year and at their "final" adult weight? I would love to be able to compare the tiny hogs, pure AGH and the AGH/GOS mix, but at an earlier age.

I don't want to sell the AGH pair we have until I figure out if the smaller hogs or faster to butcher weight hogs would work better for our family. But I don't want to grow out a gigantic AGH/GOS gilt if she is just going to be too large for our small pastures. And I don't want to keep the tiny hogs grazing and breeding if there is some way to evaluate the piglets before a year.
 

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If you want bigger pigs then it seems to me like you're crippling your genetics from the start. I would suggest instead beginning with a larger farm breed, and ideally from a pastured line. Research shows it is easier to breed down than to breed up in size. Or just slaughter younger.

-Walter
 

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Herefords are a little smaller then the Yorks i have. They take less food and weight 250-275 in 6 mos.
I have a Spot gilt that is 8 mos. and weights 400 lbs. She is the biggest and fastest growing pig i have raised. She also is as good as the Herefords on pasture. Looking for a male Spot to breed her.

I have never had the smaller breeds seems to take to long for them to get to weigh and then not a lot of lean meat people say. I have butchered 4 mos. old yorks and Herefords and Blue butts that is about the most tender and good tasting as it gets. Great for BBQs.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Our goal is eventually sustainable. On this property I can't do that with a standard large breed of hog, we just don't have enough space. We are very happy with the AGH except for a few small details... I don't mind growing them out to a year old for butchering, but I do have to keep the boars and gilts separate at that point which even if I feed one pen all of their rations and don't rotate them, it takes that small pasture out of rotation as well.

My thoughts are that I might be able to use a GOS/AGH sow and an AGH boar as my breeders. Our AGH boar is an air fern and hardly takes any feed to keep him in really nice condition, I just have to see how a bigger girl does on our land. If I can go with a larger sow that is a cross, it would be to get pigs that reach the same weight in 6 months, that way I can butcher twice a year and only have one litter of piglets on the ground at a time for the most part.

As it is now, raising to a year, that means we always have 2 age groups of piglets at a time. Our land cannot support a breeding pair that is 700 lbs each and even though I have considered the idea of breeding once, then butchering and raising up a different hog for a breeder that year and butchering that one after weaning, that idea doesn't flesh out well for us because I would need to do it with both the sow and boar to avoid a massive hog. If I do that, I am going to have to go back to buying in hogs and I don't want to set myself up that way.

Do you guys happen to know of a "rule of thumb" that applies to a pig's size at certain ages that helps to tell how large a pig will likely turn out in the future?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
gerold- I really like the Old Spot pigs we've seen, but they're not full grown yet. Their body type is nice and I'd really like to add that, plus the color, to my herd if we can. Your sow sounds lovely... I'd love to have a sow that tops out at around 300 lbs. If she is at 400lbs now, how much do you think she will weigh in a few years?

The AGH we have raised has been wonderful. If you are accustomed to large chops, you'd eat 2 of these for sure. And the bacon is smaller. The meat is well marbled and not fatty... the fat that there is tastes delicious and has a wonderful texture. I think it makes a difference as to how much they are fed and their living conditions... my hogs are slightly less in butcher weights and look more like a lean hog than some other folks' AGH at butcher time, but our meat cuts aren't overly fatty. We want the lard, but not an over abundance of it.
 

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I'd like to know that too since my gilts are AGH/Berk crosses. They are now about 180 pounds per string method and about 9 months old. I'm curious if they will end up the size of their mother (she was Berk and a good 600 pounds) but the father, the AGH, was about 200.
 

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Our goal is eventually sustainable. On this property I can't do that with a standard large breed of hog, we just don't have enough space.
Perhaps I missed it: how much space do you have?

I figure that with our large breeds (e.g., Yorkshire, Berkshire, Large Black, Tamworth) that we can do a maximum of ten pigs per acre using good pasture and managed rotational grazing. Our pigs get to market weight of about 250 lbs in about six to eight months over the warm season. The breeders weight about 600 to 800 lbs for sows and the boars weigh up over 1,000 lbs. If you don't want them that large just slaughter them earlier. Sows start breeding around 250 lbs and growth slows down considerably after the first year.

-Walter
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The hogs have about half an acre. The paddocks are divided pretty small in most of them and will be divided into smaller areas in the remaining spots as soon as I can finish the fencing. The pasture is pretty poor right now. There is some vetch and clover, but mostly some weedy grasses. Blackberry bushes and various herbs/thistles grow as well, but not consistantly throughout. We are seeding with barley, rye, vetch, crimson clover and deer plot mix with brassicas, etc. I think it will take a while for the pastures to improve enough to provide most of their hay needs. Our winters are fairly mild and we get a few snows a year, but the drainage is decent so I think they'll be able to graze most of the year once the vegetation is better.

With such limited space we have to keep the breeds size in check and stay with smaller stock. I am enjoying the tiny hogs and think they have a good chance of "winning" the sustainability factor and I could butcher them myself. I just have to wait and see if we like the meat as well and the cuts.

I am just thinking it *might* work just as well with a slightly larger hog than what we have now if we can still feed the sow from our property but raise the young for less time to get the same size hog at butcher time. If my actual # of pigs is less, that makes rotating and separating by sex easier.

Since the breeding of my AGH boar to a GOS gilt is experimental, I may end up just raising our share of the litter for our own meat, or might keep my favorite gilt to breed with another of our AGH boars... even then, if we have a litter and decide that we want to go with the tiny hogs, we will just put her in the freezer at that time. I would just really love to figure out a way to evaluate size estimations early on... Like if a pig is 100 lbs at 6 months, they're *likely* growth projection is 200 lbs at 1 year and 300 lbs at full grown, for example. That would help me evaluate them at a younger time frame.
 

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gerold- I really like the Old Spot pigs we've seen, but they're not full grown yet. Their body type is nice and I'd really like to add that, plus the color, to my herd if we can. Your sow sounds lovely... I'd love to have a sow that tops out at around 300 lbs. If she is at 400lbs now, how much do you think she will weigh in a few years?

The AGH we have raised has been wonderful. If you are accustomed to large chops, you'd eat 2 of these for sure. And the bacon is smaller. The meat is well marbled and not fatty... the fat that there is tastes delicious and has a wonderful texture. I think it makes a difference as to how much they are fed and their living conditions... my hogs are slightly less in butcher weights and look more like a lean hog than some other folks' AGH at butcher time, but our meat cuts aren't overly fatty. We want the lard, but not an over abundance of it.
I just can't tell how much your pigs will weigh with the mix you are going for. Sounds very interesting and quite a few people will be watching to see how your pigs work out.

The Old spot i have will be 800 lbs. in a couple years. Some spots are smaller type then the one i have. This one has long legs and long frame and is growing so fast i think something is wrong with her. :) I do plan on keeping her as she does so well on pasture and foraging in the woods. She doesn't require as much grain as my Yorks to maintain a fast growing rate.
 

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Just posting so I can keep track ot this thread. We are kind of in the same situation. I would like to get a AGH so we could keep a breeding sow as we do not have room for a 600lb sow running around.

Question have you seen any place that sells semen for AGH or any others like the KuneKune's?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
So is it a safe guestimate that if a sow is roughly 400lbs at 8 months and will likely mature to around 800 lbs, that you can (extremely) roughly double the weight at 8 months to get her mature weight (and apply this rough formula for most hogs)? Of course I realize that is a figure that has a lot of things that it depends on, just looking for a rough way to make an estimate.

We are definitely having a lot of fun with the hogs we have and the new combos we are trying out. The "homesteading" movement is going strong in this area and there are a lot of folks that don't mind buying AGH piglets to raise each year for their freezer. The meat is so good and they are so easy to handle that just about anyone can do it without a lot of special fencing or anything. I have a few folks that want to try each of our experimental litters (both the smaller and the larger) and I think either way we go, it will not be hard to sell or barter with our extra piglets. It is interesting, that's for sure :)
 

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Aye, that's a small working space. Keeping the size of the pigs down will help. Another option would be rabbits. We raised rabbits for years. They're a nice small package of meat and great skins. Might be a good mix with some chickens and small pigs.

So is it a safe guestimate that if a sow is roughly 400lbs at 8 months and will likely mature to around 800 lbs, that you can (extremely) roughly double the weight at 8 months to get her mature weight (and apply this rough formula for most hogs)?
I'll say tentatively yes. But at eight months she's a gilt most likely (she hasn't farrowed a litter yet) rather than a sow. Here's a page with terminology that you might find helpful:

http://SugarMtnFarm.com/FAQ

Basically it's sort of a miss vs Ms thing. :)

-Walter
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks Walter, those kind of #'s estimates is what I was looking for and helps me out a good deal. Sorry about the terminology- I know the gilt vs. sow thing, just didn't type out my thoughts clearly.

We do raise rabbits, goats, chickens and ducks as well. Rabbit meat is delicious, but I don't think I could eat it alone. The pork makes up a good deal of our meat consumption (probably about equal with rabbit) and then the goat and extra roosters round it out. Pork is definitely my favorite to eat, but rabbit is darn healthy, super easy and take up so little space.
 

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As a white meat choice, I found rabbits to be WAY more work than meat chickens like, for example, Cornish Cross. With meat chickens, there are no winter chores. One period of eight to ten weeks to grow them out and butcher, and I'm done for the year. They're all in one area - one feeder, one waterer. Once they're old enough, they come and go as they please, but I still only have to take care of one feeder, one waterer, and one pen. Another big advantage - chickens don't die when it hits 95 degrees the way my rabbits did. I used to have to put sprinklers on the rabbit cages to keep them cool during the heat waves. A serious pain, and for goodness sake, don't let me forget! I lost a doe and her litter, plus half of another litter that way. Bad day.

A big advantage of rabbits, though, is that I could scythe a big bag of grass, put it into a big rack on the side of the cage, and a doe and litter were pretty well fed for the day. Pretty darn sustainable during the periods when you have lots of nice grass.

Still, considering the pros and cons, I'm doing chickens. Plus, I like the taste of chicken better. Plus, my husband's allergic to rabbits and I just feel better when he can breathe! :D
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Laura, we are trying to get ourselves as sustainable as possible, so buying new stock each year is not on the docket. I don't want to have to buy a new batch of meat chicks every year... We eat the roosters we hatch after we choose our favorite to keep around for the next year.

Our rabbits are pretty darn easy. Manure collection with tarps so that just has to be cleaned once a week. Auto waterer buckets that only have to be filled once a week and they each eat hay or fresh harvest or a cup of pellets. If I have to leave early in the morning then I just feed them an extra cup the day before and extra hay. Skip a day of care (aside from checking on them when I can get to it).
 

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So my AGH/Berk cross gilts were around 170 at 8 months; so I can expect about 340 pounds when mature. That is really interesting and sort of what we were thinking she would end up at. At 10 months, they are over 190 so she's got quite a bit of growing left (except for the one we are going to eat in a month or two).
 

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All I csan say is the OD Spot does add a goodly amount of size. My york sow is 3 and weighs about 700 lbs. Her daughter is York x Old Spot and farrowed at a year (a day off of her birthday!) 450 lbs i would guess, now 650 at not quite two years. Her daughter has some tamworth bred in and is 10 months and pushing 400lbs. 400 seems pretty consistant for a years weight, then they pack on another 200 the next year and then growth pretty much slows to a snails pace.
 
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