I didn’t know what to name this blog post. Although a boring title, the words “small” & “homestead” are of huge importance in making our decisions regarding our choice of pig breeds. Trying to decide between the many breeds of pigs to raise is difficult and confusing. Our path to self-sustainability has led us to making many decisions through trial and error. I’m sure many can relate. We knew that we wanted to raise pork for a sustainable meat source and I had no idea where to start. It is also extremely important to us, to know how to do all of the process, from farm to table, on our own. This led us to decide on the small homestead hog varieties, it was less intimidating and they seemed easier to manage alive and during the butchering process.
So here is a breakdown of our pastured pork journey that has led us to the amazing Kune Kune Pig, a true grass-fed hog.
Self-sustainability is important to us, so knowing how to butcher is on that list. I’m not saying that we would never consider sending a pig or other livestock to a butchering facility but we would take that choice very seriously. What is stopping us from doing it ourselves? Why, after all this time put into the health and wellness of this animal, would we now turn it over to a stranger? A stressful drive, a new and unknown environment, possibly not even receiving our own grass-fed meat back in return. The stories are out there and endless. Can we say that we know our animal did not suffer extra stress or pain? I do feel that it is important to learn how to butcher, from a prepping standpoint and taking care of your family, but also for the love of your livestock. Consider the love, time and care that you put into an animal to making sure it has a good life, is fed well, is stress free. All these things that are so important to us can be ruined by the stress of loading up that animal and taking it somewhere it has never been. How else can you make use of ALL usable parts, but to butcher on your own? Stress can even change the flavor and composition of the end product.
Now first, before you get all judgy judgy on me, please note: Pot Bellied pigs are NOT pets, they are livestock, and don’t even get me started on the malnourished Micro Mini pig BS. Pot Bellies are Asian Heritage Hogs. They came to the US from Vietnam and Thailand as meat sources. Secondly, all small homestead pigs are known as “lard” pigs. This comes from the large pig breeders and tendency to overfeed crap bulk rations more than anything and is simply not true. A pigs meat is the product of what you feed it. A “lard” pig is one who is overfed and it can happen in any breed. Our pigs work for their food and we have had great meat to fat ratios on all 3 breeds that we have experimented with. Though I do love me some good lard to cook with!
We looked into other small to medium breeds and in doing so, decided to purchase some American Guinea Hogs from a homesteading friend. We also attended a Farm Convention where I was lucky enough to go to an amazing introduction to an entire butchering process.
This class was done by the female author of “The Ethical Meat Handbook”, Meridith Leigh. I highly recommend this book. This class inspired me hugely. She was so caring in her words regarding the impact and ethics of agriculture and sustainable food. A woman, like myself, made me know, I can do this and I should be doing this. It is also the class that introduced me to the wonderful world of the KuneKune.
GRASSFED PORK Y”ALL!
We were turned on to the Kune Kune at first due to its grazing qualities. We were living on one acre and the thought of it being torn up by pigs, did not excite me. Kune Kune can be raised on good quality grass without the need for supplemental feed. How does that fit into your prepping, self-sustainable, homesteading plan? No feed costs? What would happen to all of your livestock if a catastrophic event took place. I’m not telling you to stress over it but everyone should have a bit of a game plan in the back of their head…just in case.
The KuneKune pork is, sweet, succulent and enhanced nutritionally by its grazing diet and slow growth. You can feed supplemental nuts & acorns to help gain, this is how we finish our pigs. They are lawn mowers! The only time these pigs root, is to make a mud pit for summer bathing, mine get a kiddie pool and they love it! Their personality is more docile than other pigs. Kune fit the bill on our homestead, for natural, healthy, & cost effective, grass-fed pork.
The breeder that we purchased from, informed us that he feeds his Kune no more than ½ cup of grass/hay/nuts/kitchen scraps, twice a day! I love the fact that we can put them in our orchard or garden and let them “clean up” without doing damage. The gentle nature is another huge plus. Butchering is a breeze and we did 2 last season, proudly, ethically, & stress free. Remember, too much feed does not result in more meat. Overfeeding is expensive and unnecessary.
A HEALTHIER CHOICE!
Grass-fed pork, like grass-fed beef is just better for you, with higher and more balanced Omega 3 ratios, vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, has higher CLA’s, the list goes on. Don’t let big farm and AG, steer you different. Cheap profit vs quality? Quality wins in my book.
Most pigs are fed grain and garbage “feed” to fatten them up fast, I’m sorry but the health and flavor of such pigs, cannot compare. A pig that matures naturally on grass over a slower period of time will not only be healthier but will have a richer taste and texture. The same rings true for heritage breed chickens. To feed and fatten fast on crap, gives you crap! I’ve said many times, if you are raising something cheaply for a quick turn around, why not just go to the grocery store and save the hassle if the end result is of the same quality? I want the best for my family, and for us, that is the happy, healthy, Kune Kune.
So Kune Kune is the pig for us, if you can’t already tell by now. We highly recommend this breed to the homesteaders big and small. We hope to post a blog about our butchering process soon. I highly encourage you to do your research when it comes to any homestead decision that you make and hope this information helps you in your journey!