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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pigs for survival

I hear a lot of people talk about raising chickens, ducks, rabbits, and goats which are all great animals for the small farm or back yard. Many of these animals can be raised on one acre or less; even in a suburban setting when local regulations permit it. Some communities have regulations which allow chickens, but not hoofed animals. Still, it is surprising that more people are not raising pigs.

Pigs have some tremendous benefits in survival situations. What might these benefits be? Well feeding them for one. Pigs need food to grow, but the reality is that they can eat almost anything. If enough pasture land is available, pigs can live off of the grasses. I have killed wild pigs in the woods which appeared to be making a good living on acorns and wild plants

Barring a crisis situation, pigs can be cheap to feed and they will certainly grow fatter with a little grain and day old bread from the local bakery. What else might they eat? Anything. I knew a farmer who would pick up road killed deer and feed to his pigs. They ate everything but the hide and the bones. One time he asked me to give him a hand feeding his pigs. When I arrived he had me help him move 55 gallon drums. The drums were full of cow innards from a local butcher shop. You guessed it, the pigs ate it all.

You might not want to feed your pigs cow innards and road killed dear on a regular basis, but in a crisis situation it is nice knowing you have an animal that can stay alive on almost anything.
Think about it. Any and all waste from the kitchen could go to the pigs. In addition, any left overs (innards) from other animals could go to the pigs. In addition you could find grass and plants to feed pigs all summer.

Other advantages to raising pigs include the fact that one sow will have between 6 and 14 piglets. That is more pork than you need, and it will probably be exactly what your neighbor needs and may be willing to trade something really nice to get.

If you can get your sow to birth in late winter or early spring, by late fall or perhaps Christmas you could butcher. You could butcher earlier or later if needed, but you would need to strike a balance between letting the pig grow bigger over time, and running out of feed in the winter. Winter is also a good time to butcher if you plan to cure the meat. When curing, the meat will need to sit in a salt solution for weeks and if the temperature is too high, the meat could spoil.

If you are thinking of survival food and farming, pigs are worth a serious look. They eat anything, grow fast, have lots of babies, are good for trading, and are mighty tasty.


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