This spring trying to find a weaner piglet or two was for many peaple a huge challenge, just like the run on chicks.. meat chicks sold out hard and fast locally..
Thankfully I had my name down on a waiting list for 2 heritage piglets from a lovely pure tamworth breeding and i was able to get a very nice brother sister set of pigs.
They were healthy, good temperments and never gave a moments issue.. this past weekend, I woke up after setting my mind the night before to being in the zone.
Out I headed with my rifle/knives and it went as well as it can.. As homesteaders we all talk about one bad day or the freezer camp.. but lets get real, its death.. I was killing my pigs..
All kills are hard.. pigs are very hard, never ever let anyone tell you that pigs are not smart and very VERY MUCH there.. they know their names, they have favorite treats, they clean (having a bathroom corner) they fluff their beds just so and they learn that myself and the other humans bring food, treats, garden offering, hay, bedding and rump rubs.. I have never meet a well socialized pig that does not view us as ear scratchers or rump rubbers..
We all want it to go perfectly, picture perfect! Thankfully more often then not, someone will help you learn and once you have the basic’s you will get the job done.
However the larger the animal, the more it needs to be done just right because most homesteaders will not have the equipment that larger will. Its worth noting that the goverment federally and provinally also has rules in place and you had better know them..
They will tell you where you need to shot, the degree of power you need and what choices you have to do it per stock.. what is needed for lamb is NOT the same as what is required for a 18 month old steer..
So when I say, that it went well, I mean it.. Training is key.. teach your animals a routine and do it well before you need it.. My pigs had been raised in the croft as littles and big barn but I needed them up close for the butcher.
We created a small pen to train them in for the D-Day..
in my case I would call them to the front and I had set it up that they had a space to put their head partly into which gave me the right view and ability to get the right angle.
the male was the leader of the two and he went first.. its was so perfect, he went back two steps and dropped (didn’t even get a kick) the female took about 20 to 30 second to line up and she was done..
From the time of saying good morning to both being down.. under a minutes.. eye checks done then washed feet, slide out of the pen to clean ground, washed necks and then cuts from side to side to where done
They both came in around 250 to 275 live weight and thank goodness for hunting gear, in went the hooks, onto the pulley and up they went for washing skinning, cleaning and quartering and then break down for hams, bacon, chops, stew and ground.. fat to be rendered down
It was a long work day but it was so worth it..
Did you raise pigs this year? Did you send it out to be done? or did you home butcher? Did you also cure your meat into hams, bacon and making sausages?
We still get a couple of weaners every year – we have a couple of sources and call early. If we’re both working off farm – we send them to the slaughterhouse. We have on occasion done our own cut, wrap, cure….it’s so much better when done at home – although our slaughterhouse dies a fine job of all of it.
Here too, people were jumping on the bandwagon to raise ‘pandemic’ pigs. Quite the gong show come fall though trying to get them in – we always phone and get a date to take them in as soon as their feet hit the floor in our farm. People were just assuming they could call a day or so ahead. Our slaughterhouse is booked solid almost right through next summer.
I love that you don’t pull any punches in your posts – Farm life is real and doesn’t need to be sugar coated. Many years ago we used to do more of our own pigs….goats….I have to say it can be damn tough. This year we had to euthanize a year old steer. All our animals are handled daily, you call them and they come running. That – was tough. I had the vet come out and do a necropsy- still felt no better knowing it wasn’t a failure on our part. Somebody said to me ‘oh that’s to bad about the meat you won’t have in your freezer’. That – wasn’t even on my radar.