Pastured, Forested and Pigaerator Pork
Our pigs are raised naturally and humanely, resulting in rich flavor and more nutrient-dense meat that is incomparable to factory-farmed pork. We are a farrow-to-finish operation, meaning we keep our own herd of breeder pigs and our piglets live on our farm from the day they are born until they are harvested.
Depending on the time of year and just how much rain we’re getting, our pigs are raised on pasture or in the woods. At times we also create pasture or woods paddocks with a base of sand, coarse coffee grounds, wood chips and hay for the pigs to use as bedding and stay off the wet ground, while also aerating and turning all of that material into compost that can be used to fertilize other parts of our land. Our mentor farm, Polyface Farm in Virginia, led the way in using pigs as compost turners and coined the term Pigaerator Pork.
We feed our pigs a grain ration of organic corn, organic soybean meal, as well as non-GMO oats and sunflower seeds (we cannot source certified organic sunflower and oats in South Louisiana, but these crops have not yet been genetically modified and are not typically doused in chemical insecticides the way that corn and soy are). Our pigs also often eat spent brewery grain from a local brewery, along with our kitchen and produce scraps from our partner farms.
Pigs are omnivores and curious foragers, so we often see them rooting around for earthworms and grubs, munching on grasses and shrubs as well as mushrooms, roots and tubers and of course in the fall, they get their fill of the acorns that drop from our oak trees. With our high water table, we’ve even seen them dig up crawfish holes and crunch on crawfish, too!
Why You Want to Avoid Factory-Farmed Pork
Pigs are very smart and social animals, which also makes them very susceptible to external stress. Conventional farms raise their pigs indoors, separated from their litter mates, where they often never see real sunshine and are confined on concrete floors with metal drains. Thus, they are extremely stressed for their entire lives, making them chronically sick and abnormally aggressive. The sickness is treated with regular doses of antibiotics in their feed and the aggression is overcome with measures like clipping teeth, docking tails and putting rings in their noses. Their manure is pumped out to lagoons that pollutes the environment, instead of being properly composted and used as the potent natural fertilizer that it is! Most breeding sows live in even worse conditions, in metal gestations crates where they can barely turn around.
Further, conventional hogs have been breed to have exceptionally lean meat. Because of this loss of flavor, most grocery store pork is injected with brines, salts, nitrites and nitrates, as well as phosphates to overcome the lack or flavor from fat.
Just like with pastured eggs, heritage breed pigs raised outdoors in low stress environments produce meat with higher nutrients, more fat and better flavor. Notably, pastured pork has been shown in some studies to have significantly higher vitamin D, simply because the pigs bathe in the sun, versus living their entire lives inside under artificial lights.