Thursday, April 21, 2011

Soy Free and Corn Free Hogs?

Last week we butchered one of our Red Wattle Hogs that have been on the new diet and feeding method , and have some amazing findings. It is of course too early to make a judgement, but things are pointing in the right direction.

You may recall we set out this year to create a soy free pork. This involved removing soy from the hog's feed and replacing that protein with another source. This is not an easy task! What we finally ended up doing is feeding a diet consisting of organic peas, and sprouted organic wheat and rye. Likewise organic corn was reduced to a special treat, with a small amount every couple weeks.  So for the last 3 months the hogs have been soy free and virtually corn free!

Then we made a change in feeding method. Not for nutritional reasons, but to help the pasture. After a winter of hte hogs rooting it up and "tilling" the ground, we wanted to start some things growing again. To do this we decided to start dumping hte whole organic grains right in the pasture on the ground, and let hte hos free to root in it to find food. They eat most, leaving some to sprout.

the first obserbvation was that the hogs seemed much more content after a couple days of feeding this way. They would spend their days out on pasture rooting around and foraging, napping in the mid day sun, and oming in evenings to the shelters. They seemed much more docile, less prone to spats between them, and generally "happier" than when we fed in the feeders only. 

The seocnd and more surprising thing was when we butchered the next hog, the pork was compleetly different! The last couple of hogs we processed turned out a bit fatty. The back fat was quite thick, and hte bacon ended up more fat than meat.  With this new hog, only a couple months later, the fat had decreases by about half! I have not seent he bacon yet, but from inspecting after slaughter, it looks like a much healthier balance of meat and fat.

The overall weight had not decreased! In fact these hogs are now heavier than the ones two months ago. What seems to be the case is that hte fat was decreased and muscle was increased.

Was it hte soy and corn removal, or the more natural slow feeding method on pasture? I do not know. Nevertheless we will continue exploring this to learn what is hte best overall diet and feeding schedule / methods.  For now we are very happy with the results and cant wait to try the delicious Red Wattle Pork with  a better fat balance.

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