Here Piggy Piggy Piggy! Pigs are so cute when they are little, they grow up into smelly messy things (as some people say). Pigs are beautiful animals for many reasons, and I believe we have one of the most beautiful pigs on our farm. We raise a pig called a hereford. Yes, there is a hereford cow, and that is exactly how this pig got it's name. The coloration of the pig is the exact same as the cow, red with white faces and feet. The hereford has a few good qualities that we like above other pigs, but before we get there, let's share how they are so beautiful, something that is so smelly and messy all the time.
1. They are excellent at what they do - rooting. They are mother nature's natural tiller. Pigs can be used to till garden spaces, troublesome weed spots, leave piles, or our thorn - crab grass. We have used our pigs to work leaves in a compost pile - they turn them, eat some and eat out the weeds and crab grass, and also fertilize the leaves (which helps build up heat and compost them faster). We then turn around and add this into our garden site to enrich our soil - but keeping in mind to put it on in the fall or at least 120 days before we are ready to plant to make sure the raw manure is composted properly. They will also root out those troublesome weeds and grasses you don't want around. We are planning to move some smaller pot belly pigs to an area overtaken with crab grass - they love it and we hate it. This should allow us the chance to better manage the crab grass without the use of chemicals and to save our backs!
2. Manure, manure, manure! That smelliness of the pig is simply the rich beautiful manure left around. It can be collected an added to compost piles or directly applied to your gardens 120 days before you plan to harvest. This is a rich source of "nutrients" for your garden and needed heat for the compost pile.
3. Pets - some people enjoy these animals for pets. Pigs are very similar to dogs. They will follow you around, play, and sit and be petted. Obiviously, this is not our main purpose for them. We discourage our teens from making "friends" with them, as they are meant for meat.
4. Meat - Hereford's are a very lean mean. They were developed in the early 1920's for their coloration and meat production. They will produce a leaner meat, faster, and on less feed than most breeds. They will reach market weight at 6 months of 250 lbs. They do not require as much feed since they are wonderful grazers. We have our pig set up in a grazing systerm in the field. Her paddocks are seeded with a variety of grasses that she loves, plus she roots out our troublesome weeds in the field. Our first pig went to market when she was about 2 years old, and had at one liter of piglets. Her hanging weight was 400lbs. The market estimated her to weigh 450lbs and were shocked at how little waste there was. Her meat tastes wonderful - not tough or too fatty as is typical with pigs at that age. WE are very impressed.
These are reasons we love our pig and enjoy raising them on the farm. As far as messy, pigs do a lot of wallowing in water because they need to stay cool. Pigs do not sweat and can only cool with plenty of water to drink and to wallow. Don't worry about a wallow spot, they will make it themselves. If you do not want them to have one, keep them moving around in your pastures. A wonderful animal for a farm.