So last year I got some pot belly pigs, Clara and Wilbur. They have had quite a few litters together, though the ravens got one litter except for one and she had one group in the dead of winter and they froze. She was inexperienced then and scattered them out of the nest she so carefully made.
A friend had two Meishan pigs that their family had outgrown which she offered to me and they are part of the pigs on the farm now. Meishan sows have 20 teats and can raise that many piglets easily. They were imported to Canada from China to increase the numbers of piglets that our North American sows had, but the cross breeding didn't work. The crossed sows were not able to support large numbers of piglets so then some of the Meishan pigs were sold in markets around the country. I am not sure how my friend acquired them. They are mid sized black pigs with floppy ears and when they are babies they have lots of wrinkles.
The Meishans are bred to the Pot Belly Boar. I hope to sell the piglets, dressed whole, for Christmas dinner alternatives. Long ago, especially in Britain, piglet was served for Christmas, whole on a platter, but roast to perfection of course. After butchering the Pot Belly piglets at 4 months of age and eating the delicious pork, I would not like to go back to the large pigs again. It is that good. There is no bacon on a pot belly though, but Meishans have excellent bacon so perhaps the crosses will too. Clara is pregnant and due in a few weeks. This litter will be ready for butcher in October and the Meishan cross piglets should be ready in November or December depending on when they were bred. Perhaps I can also start some small farms back to raising smaller hogs for family use.
Today a third breed of pig joined the farm, the Ossabaw hog. They have long thing pointy snouts and seldom exceed 200 pounds. The breed was likely a Spanish pig that was left by sailors on the Ossabaw Islands off Georgia in the USA where it became feral and survived in poor conditions. With good feed the pigs develop gross amounts of fat around the belly, but the meat is considered the best for charcuterie and is highly sought after. The pigs do well in a forage based operation.
On the Fat Ewe Farm, the pigs have pasture to root through and grass to eat as well as their barley feed. I am thinking of allowing them in the bush by the creek where they can root around and find things they like to eat. That is much healthier than sitting in the grain bucket for their food. It will be interesting to see or rather taste, the difference between the Pot Belly, Meishan and Ossabaw pig meat. Would you like to try some?