Sunday, 2 September 2012

This Little Piggy...

Sunday 2nd September 2012
 

The Last Photo of Gerald?
Today saw Gerald moving off back to his farm. He's done his job here. Very sad news though...

Gerald's next journey will probably be to the sausage factory. He has grown rather large which means that his line of work puts smaller sows at risk of injury. On the harsh, economic side it also means his feed costs are higher, as I have witnessed while the farmer has been not collecting him!

There's also the fact that his first offspring on his own farm are now the farmer's breeding sows so new blood is required. This is an eternal problem with all animals when they are kept on a small scale. These days, not enough people keep a boar to make it viable to swap them around, as artificial insemination is the more common way to impregnate the sows. Not only is it cheaper than the cost of hiring in and feeding a boar, but you don't risk damage to the sow and you can choose the pedigree and bloodline easily. 

We will miss Gerald and so will Daisy. She had a good relationship with him.
 
 
 
Gerald moved just in time that we could move the pigs around a bit to separate our own two boars, ready for their own little journey tomorrow morning! They had a final treat of fresh grass and runner beans before being led up the garden path and into the waiting trailer.




They are one week short of six months old. Since we left them intact as boys, if we keep them longer there is the risk of their hormones spoiling the taste of the meat (boar taint). Although some people reckon you can keep them up to a year, we prefer to play it safe, even if it means they go off a little on the small side.
 
In the past this moving process had been somewhat stressful and occasionally chaotic. We have learned to leave enough time so that, if the pigs wish to stop for a munch on the grass or double back a few times to more familiar territory, it won't be a problem.
 
More importantly, the whole run from the pig pens to the stable yard (that's more of a measurement than a description!) is securely fenced. This means that, in theory, we could even leave the pigs alone in this stretch. It also means that we no longer need to worry about them bolting past us and blundering through one of the areas of weaker, temporary fencing.

And so, everything went very smoothly and the pigs spent the night nestled in a pile of clean straw in the trailer, completely ignorant of what was to come.
 
Do I feel guilty? No. Not at all. As I've said before, if you are going to eat meat then better to face up to the facts of where it comes from and ensure that the animals have a good life and a humane death. It does not grow in neat little frozen cubes on trees, nor are neatly trimmed chops, joints and strips of bacon harvested from the ground!






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