Learning how to raise a pig for meat can be very rewarding if you have the time and space on your homestead. You will find that natural pig farming produces pork that tastes much better than what you buy in your local grocery store. Plus, you can be guaranteed that it will be free of antibiotics, chemicals and additives because you control what goes into your swine. If you are new to raising animals for food, the first big question you should answer is whether you can bring yourself to go through with slaughtering and butchering your pig.
Not sure what breed is best? Some hog farmers suggest heritage breeds, such as Tamworths and Gloucestershire Old Spots, are wonderful because they are hardy, exceptionally tasty and docile. Heritage pigs are old-time hogs used in Europe and early America, They are now rare and pricier than standard domestic pig breeds because they aren’t used by the commercial breeders. These breeds are mostly foraging hogs in that they will glean a great amount of their feed from pasture vegetation.
Raising pigs on pasture means your team (several pigs) won’t stink, and they don’t need as much feed as swine in confinement. Feeding your team greens and allowing them to get plenty of exercise will produce more muscle and less fat than a hog cooped up in pen eating carbohydrates all day. A healthier pig will also have no need for antibiotics and steroids. If raised for meat, your swine will need a high-protein grain diet in addition to fresh greens. Different hog breeds will grow at different rates, but they should be at around 200 pounds by six months of age or sooner. If you let it get much over 200 pounds, it will start putting on more fat than meat.
Wondering how to house pigs? A three-sided shed built out of scrap lumber, tin roofing and placed in the shade will make a great shelter (it doesn’t have to be fancy). It’s best if you build it on skids so you can move it as it gets wet and muddy inside. With proper fencing, you can let your team forage on pasture, which produces a higher-quality meat and your pigs will love it, too. Swine quickly learn to respect electric fencing, and it will prevent them from getting into trouble on AND off your property.
Good luck raising your own backyard swine!