You Can Raise Pigs on Pasture
By Candi Johns
“About 99 percent of all pigs raised in the U.S. are raised in confinement buildings, on operations known as CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations).”
— The Dodo
Where does your pork live?
Were they raised on concrete? Or pasture? Does it matter?
Yes! It does. Let me explain.
This post should come with a mild warning. Some people seem to think the proper way to carry a piglet is by its back legs or leg. I do not subscribe to this particular philosophy, but many folks do (like, apparently, everyone but me).
Brace yourself, you are about to see poor, little piglets helplessly dangling from their back legs.
Concrete vs. Pasture
Let’s start with the concrete method. It is not a secret that I am partial to pasture; however, I don’t mind pointing out the benefits of concrete.
• They are easy to keep clean.
• They can’t root.
• They can’t dig.
• They can’t tunnel under the fence and escape.
• They can’t build swimming pools.
• They can’t throw their food bowls or drinkers into their swimming pool.
Concrete may keep the pigs from digging, rooting and wallowing …
They are pigs. They are supposed to dig, root and wallow. They live to dig, root and wallow. They need to dig, root and wallow.
… the poor, poor pigs on concrete.
No plants. No rain. No sun. No grass. No trees. No fresh air. No mud. No dirt. Nothing to forage. Nothing to explore. Nothing to wallow in.
Nothing but food, water, concrete and other pigs.
Concrete dwelling is pretty much the excepted standard of operation for raising pigs today. Most pork products sold in grocery stores come from pigs who spent their entire lives in a building like this one.
They never see grass, trees, dirt or the sun.
Getting pigs off the concrete and onto pasture is a game changer.
Not only does it give the pigs a much more humane, happy life, it also produces much healthier meat.
Why Pasture Raised Pigs Are Superior:
1. Stimulus for the pigs – sufficient opportunity to fulfill their natural need to root and explore.
2. Grasses, plants and increased nutrition from pasture foraging.
3. The pigs have wallows (muddy water holes) to cool off in.
4. Exposure to sun, rain and fresh air.
5. Pigs get more exercise and plenty of room to move about.
6. Pigs on pasture have fewer health problems.
7. Lower costs to raise animals (as part of their diet will come from the pasture).
8. Healthier working environment for individuals caring for pigs.
9. Meat from pastured animals contain: Vitamin E, Vitamin D, vonjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3 fatty acids.
10. Happy pigs!
We were happy to rescue six little piggies from the concrete jungle and bring them to our pasture. Yipee!
We carried the sweet, upside-down piglets to our animal trailer. Once inside, they were happy to be upright again and reunited with their family. They had a short ride to our pig pasture; AKA feeder-pig paradise!
Once home, we had to get the piglets from the trailer into the promised land.
Fortunately for the piglets, my daughters know how to carry a pig right-side-up.
Upright, happy piggies.
Unfortunately, my oldest son does not. Poor pig.
Oh, boy, were those piglets happy in their new world. Grass, sun, dirt, shade, fresh air! They found a corner, snuggled into a pile and slept.
Welcome little piggies, we are glad you are here!
Happy Pig Season!