For about 5 years on our old homestead in Connecticut I ran a pork business.
Over those 5 years I raised a lot of different kinds of pigs.
Hampshire. Tamworth. Berkshire.
But mostly I raised Yorkshire Landrace Crosses. The big pink commercial breed of pig.
They are like the Cornish Cross of pigs. They have been selectively bred and crossed to create a large, long pig in just a few months.
I LOVED my big pink piggies. They did great. Every year I ran my pastured pork business I made a profit. My customers were thrilled with the product. And our family enjoyed some of the best tasting bacon and sausage around.
I had tried a few different heritage breeds, and heard about new ones every day it seemed, but I had no interest in switching breeds. After a few years of doing pigs I decided to take a year off.
We decided to Move to Pennsylvania, and I didn’t want to have another animal to move, we already were bringing chickens, ducks, goats, and cows. So no pigs that year.
As we settled into the homestead we got busy with new infrastructure projects, more cows, chickens and goats, and just further developing our new farm, another year passed with no pigs. Finally this spring I decided It was TOO LONG. We had gone without pigs for 2 years, our bacon supply was out, and I wanted to bring pigs back to the farm.
Back in CT we had an amazing source for Big Pink Pigs. Tom, my old pig mentor and provider, would get me as many as I needed every year. Now here in PA I didn’t have a Tom. I needed to find a new source of pigs.
Finding a replacement for Tom turned out to be almost impossible. I started doing some more research about other types of pigs, as it seemed that I would not be able to find a good source of Yorkshire Landrace, and I needed to know what other breeds might work.
During this time my 3 year old Son started asking for his own little piggies. Momma’s got a soft spot in her heart for Kids who want livestock, so she decided we would find him a good fit. In all our research we had learned more about the Kune Kune pigs, and K thought these would be perfect…
Kune Kune pigs are smaller and slower growing than the Yorkshire Landrace. At first that sounds like an awful idea for a former pig farmer. But in this situation they were kinda perfect.
A smaller slower growing pig would be able to be handled by my 3 year old longer (he is quite a mature little 3 year old … almost 4 year old… little farmer ;). They also are said to be easier on pastures than other breeds, which is good for us because here in PA we actually have nice pastures! Finally they are claimed to be able to forage better from the land around them and get more of their own feed, saving you on the feed bill!
The more I learned about the Kune Kune the more excited I became to try this new breed. As I researched about them another breed kept coming up. IPP’s. The Idaho Pastured Pig. This pig is a cross of a Kune Kune, Berkshire and Duroc breeds.
It is said by one breeder… “Idaho Pasture Pigs are a new breed of pig specifically designed to grow and mature at a faster rate than the Kune kune pigs, but are still true Grazing pigs. These pigs mature to market weight within about 9 – 10 months(eating primarily grass) and eat less grain than the average meat hog does.”
That peaked my interest. My son was trying a new pig breed. Why shouldn’t I? And so we wound up adding another new breed to the mix…
This Idaho Pastured Pig has some big claims behind it. Can it really grow out mostly on grass? Do they root or not? Will it save a homesteader money on feed bills if they get one?
Kirstin is the Turkey Growout Manager for Empire Kosher Poultry, inc. She has worked for empire since 1996 in both turkeys and broiler production. She graduated from Penn State in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Production. Prior to working for empire she worked in both the Dairy and Layer Fields. She is the owner operator of Mouse Creek Farm, a 44-acre farm where she raises Idaho Pasture Pigs, hunts and rides her horses. When not talking turkey, you will find her talking about either horses or pigs, and that is exactly what she is coming on the show to do!
Pioneers can join Kirstin and myself tonight at 5 PM Eastern time to talk all about pigs! If you join us live you can ask questions at the end, but don’t forget to email me questions if you can’t make it for the live show.