Tuesday 8 January, 2013
Last year, 2012, was the first year we’d kept pigs at Dalmore. We bought three Hampshire gilts, born 1st January, and had them slaughtered on the 21st August. We would have had them away earlier but we had an Introduction to Smallholding course running on the 18th August, so they had a stay of execution until that was passed.
Keeping them was fine; the house, which we bought way back about 2003, held up well; the fencing remained secure after an early scare and the pigs themselves were happy and healthy. The only issue was the water-logging of about half their pen. It didn’t seem to bother the pigs but it could have been better.
The pigs were fed Marriages Pig Nuts No2; we used a total of 49 bags costing £388. The weaners themselves cost £60 each. We used six small bales of straw as bedding, at £4.50. The kill price was £28 per pig. Butchery was £1/kg deadweight to cut and pack plus extra for sausages and bacon.
Transport costs included picking up the weaners, taking them to slaughter, picking up the pork then the bacon
The pigs killed out at 84kg, 85kg and 90kg deadweight. I have to say the pork is really lovely – very tender, lean and tasty.
However, next year, we’re going to try something different for three reasons – one, even on our relatively light soil, the pig pen was trashed; two, the grass in our poultry orchard grows faster in summer than the hens can keep it down – and I think time mowing grass is time wasted and three, the price of bagged feed continues to increase and I have a question in my mind about how sustainable it is, if the protein source has to be imported from South America.
So next year, we’re going to keep a couple of Kune Kunes. We’ve tried Kune Kune pork and bacon and it’s delicious. We know we won’t get the quantity of meat that we’d get from a “normal” pig, but we’re hoping that the lower output will be more than offset by lower input, particularly of bagged feed.
To explain, we have two laying flocks of 40 birds. Each flock has a house with three popholes and three paddocks – we can rotate the birds round the paddocks by opening each pophole in turn. This year, I have been moving the birds at the start of each month. Each of the six paddocks is about 400m2 and all are deer-fenced.
Three of the paddocks have been planted with a total of 60 apple trees; the other three paddocks probably won’t be planted until 2014. The idea is that the hens keep the bugs down, eat the grass and fertilize the soil and in return they get the shade and shelter from the trees.
This year, we have found that the paddock that hasn’t had hens on for two months needs to be cut before the hens go back on and mowing round the trees is a pain (so Dan tells me :-)). We did think about sheep, but I’m pretty sure our Ryelands will bark the trees, so we have decided to try a couple of Kune Kunes instead.
With sufficient grazing, we’ve been advised that the pigs will only need about 0.5kg of feed a day – maybe none in summer. Now, we’re reckoning that the KKs may take 10 months to reach a suitable slaughter weight i.e. they’ll be a year old but at 0.5kg a day, that’s only seven and a half 20kg bags of feed as opposed to sixteen bags for the big pigs. We’d expect the deadweight to be about 65kg.
IF this is accurate, and it’s an “if”, we’ll be getting 8.6kg of pork per bag of feed from the KKs, as opposed to 5.31kg pork per bag of feed from the big pigs.
Anyway, we’re going to give it a go – and we’ll put the results on TAS in due course.