How to Choose the Right Pig Breed for Your Homestead

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Wondering which pig breed is right for you? Read this before you take the leap into pig ownership…

If you’re thinking of adding a pig to your homestead (or your home), make sure you choose the right breed. Some pigs can get enormous – and pigs can also be enormously destructive if they don’t have enough space to roam and exercise, or if they get bored. Choosing the right breed for your pig’s intended purpose will help to ensure that your pig-raising experience isn’t a hair-raising one.

There are a number of reasons why people choose to raise pigs – whether for companionship, or as a clean source of home-grown protein, or simply to make sure that your food is ethically and humanely raised and avoids the horrors of the industrial pig farm.

Whether you’re looking for a pig as a pet, or as a tasty centerpiece for your next barbecue, here are a few tips to choosing the right pig breed for your needs:

As a Pet:

Vietnamese Potbellied Pig
Hobby hog farmers will attest to the friendliness of pigs of all stripes (and spots), but Vietnamese potbellied pigs make the best indoor pets. In contrast to many full-sized hogs, which can tip the scales at 600 to 1,500 pounds, adult potbellieds average just 120 pounds—which is still plenty for an animal that’s smart enough to open the refrigerator door. Living with pet pigs will require childproofing your home, and potbellieds are a bit like toddlers: They are by turns snuggly, aggressive, intelligent and stubborn…

Potbellied-sized kunekune pet pigs are friendly and outgoing…

As Food:

Tamworth and Large Black
Pigs raised for bacon are usually slaughtered at around 6 months old. And in a bacon contest, Tamworth and Large Black pigs are usually the winners. Both grow relatively slowly, which produces fine-grained ribbons of fat laced into the meat of the belly. If you’re planning to raise pigs for bacon, be ready for the messy business of slaughter. If you’re wanting to sell your meat, or are feeling squeamish, find a USDA-certified slaughterhouse near you.

Berkshire and Oxford Sandy & Black
Berkshire pigs (often marketed as kurobuta) have gained a reputation for flavorful, marbled pork. Genetically related, both Oxford Sandy & Black and Berkshire pigs offer delectable pork and bacon, plus excellent temperaments, making them perfect for first timers interested in raising pigs for meat and company (though pigs raised for pork are also slaughtered around the 6-month mark).

Read more about these pig breeds and others at ModernFarmer.com


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