For many years, we raised two rare breeds that were once very common in pork production but are now near extinction. We have retired from the pork business but still love these pigs and leave the information up in hopes that you too will decide to raise them. If interested, please check with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy for a breeders list in your area.
These old varieties are known as "heritage" breeds since they were the choice of our great grandfathers generations ago. We selected these two breeds for their taste and ability to graze so we can produce grass fed pork. Heritage breeds do not do well in commercial operations since they don't grow as fast but we feel the extra time is worth the exceptional taste they produce.
Heritage pork is known for its tender texture and micro-marbled meat that produces a moist product on the grill or in the oven. The meat is a little darker than commercial pork and has much more flavor. The cuts and products available from pork are endless. Unfortunately, the cost of feed has risen so fast and so high that we no longer raise pork for sale to customers. We do continue to raise them for ourselves using the milk from our dairy cow along with grazing and left over garden scraps. If at all possible, you too could raise a pig or two each year for your own family to ensure you get safe and wholesome meat.
Here is an article that brings to light the safety of our meat supply here in the US.
Large Black Hog:
The term "Large Black Hogs" is not just a description, it's the registered name of a specific breed of endangered old world English hog that was once very common. The Large Black is a true grazing pig that prefers open pastures where it eats various grasses and vegetation. They are huge animals with large ears that cover their eyes. They are one of the most docile breeds of pigs and a joy to raise.
Ken and Kay were instrumental in forming an association to register this rare breed and to ensure its survival.
Gloucestershire Old Spot:
This breed of pig also came from Europe and was known as an orchard pig because it lived among the orchards, picking up fallen fruit. They are smaller than the Large Black but very similar in taste and texture. They are easily recognized by their white coat with black spots. Nothing is cuter than a little spotted pig. This breed is even more rare than the Large Black and is definitely in danger of going extinct in our lifetime if we don't find more farmers willing to raise them.
You can do your part to save this breed by supporting farmers who raise them. For those who appreciate great pork and love these wonderful animals, the world would be a lot worse off without them.
How We Raised Our Pork
These five week old piglets are already learning how to graze. Our hogs were raised in large pastures where they could eat a variety of vegetation, exercise to their hearts content, and socialize with other hogs and people on the farm. In addition to grazing, we fed our hogs a special mix of whole grains and minerals, that's it! Raised that way they are free of any hormones, steroids, antibiotics, growth stimulants or chemicals of any kind. The result is a pure product that is safe, nutritious and best of all, flavorful.
Pigs on pasture are extremely active and develop their muscles with lots of play and running. We never found the need to ring their nose, dock tails or clip the "needle" teeth at birth. We find that it is not needed when raised in open pastures.
A word about Lard!
I know, no one in their right mind would touch the stuff right! Well think again. I've done some research and provided a few links below but turns out lard (pig fat) may be almost as healthy as olive oil. Not just any lard though. It must be natural lard, not the hydrogenated stuff from the grocery store. If you are a fan of Oprah then you have probably heard Dr. Oz explain why you should never eat anything than has been "hydrogenated". That is a process where they hit it with hydrogen atoms to increase the shelf life. It also changes the molecular makeup of the product so your body does not recognize it as food and cannot digest it the way it is supposed to, thus it ends up coating your arteries. That is why you should never eat any fake fats such as shortening or margarine. Store bought lard is just as bad for you as shortening because it has been hydrogenated. You don't need to buy it at the store though. Just ask the processor to save your fat from your hog and you can melt it at home in your oven. It is that simple. Since it is the real thing though, you can't store it in the pantry. It must be in the refrigerator or freezer until you use it.
One thing is for sure, nothing cooks better pastry or crispy chicken and potatoes than lard. Just as in pasture poultry, the fat from animals that graze have higher levels of vitamins and a higher ratio of good fat to the bad. Now for your reading enjoyment: