Saturday, 27 July 2013

Turning Piglets into Pork

There have been comings and goings at the farm in recent days. Most obvious goings were the two piglets at the weekend. It still seems strange when we go to feed them and only two pigs emerge from their hut for food.
But today the two piglets came back, just not quite as they went away!

I was impressed by their eventual weights. I usually send the pigs off at just over 50 kg, but leaving them that bit longer gave us some much more chunky chops. By my crude reckoning, the extra feed costs were more than compensated for in the extra meat.

The extra growth gave us some lovely, traditional style chunky chops too and we also had the leg cut into steaks. The leg joints are always the leanest, but our customers know their pork and know that this makes the meat slightly drier too. When I discussed this with my butcher, he suggested steaks and very nice they look too.
Mind you, with the piglets weighing in at 68 and 63 kg it's no wonder I couldn't get them off the trailer!

It was interesting to chat to the butcher for a while too. The sisters of these two piglets, which I sold to a new smallholder just around the corner, grew much quicker than ours. So much so that, when their owner came and asked me if it was time to go off, he was obviously surprised at the size difference. It made me doubt our pig-rearing too. Could it be that I was not growing our pigs fast enough? Although I take pride in the amount of space they've got and in producing slow-grown pork, could it be that I've been keeping them too long and spending out far more than I need  on food?

I wrote a post on how much to feed a pig some time ago. I didn't give any numbers, just advice to keep an eye on the piglets' condition and not be lured by their persistent squealing for more food. Could it be that I got it wrong?

Of course not! For my butcher informed me that those two piglets which had grown so quickly were insulated by a very thick layer of fat. Some fat is good, maybe up to a couple of cm, but any more than that and you have just been turning expensive food into a layer of blubber.

So, if any of you want any perfectly reared pork, the likes of which you'll never have tasted before (unless you're old enough to remember what good old traditional pork is supposed to taste like), just take a look at the Pork and Sausages tab on this blog and pop in to see us on the farm. 

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