Do you have any idea how much a pig eats? A LOT!
Last year we spent almost $11,000 in grain alone. This year we are on a mission to reduce grain expenses, while increasing feed nutrition. Because it's expensive to feed a pig to slaughter weight it is common for farmers to try to cut feed costs. Pigs are omnivores. They'll eat essentially anything....and people have exploited pigs because of this. For example, it's not uncommon for commercial hogs to be fed crates of expired chewing gum (still in the packaging), or other inedible "foods." It's very common for small scale hog producers to feed bakery left overs, like doughnuts and pastries. It seems that, in an effort to reduce spending, many, many, if not most, pig farmers sacrifice quality of feed. We don't do that at our Farm.
At our farm we believe "you are what what you eat eats" (read it again, it's not a typo, it's a quote from farm guru, Joel Salatin). We, the farmers at Climbing Tree Farm, don't eat pastries (or wrapped packages of chewing gum for that matter) for every meal, because we think that's gross and that it would make us unhealthy. The same follows for our animals. Not only would our animals' quality of life suffer, but their meat would be less healthy for human consumption, and it wouldn't taste as good. We're going for animals that are happy, healthy on and off the hoof (when they are alive and when they're on your plate), with the best possible flavor, which means we have to feed them well.
|Grass-fed Dairy (You should see our weekly recycling!)|
|Spent Barley from Local Brewery|
Where do we get this food? We collect healthy, edible, "waste" from several local cheese, dairy, vegetable, and beer producers (like left over pumpkins after Halloween, bruised apples, and whey that comes out of the cheese making process). It is a pain in the neck to collect and manage the foods that we feed our animals.There's a lot of schlepping, and hauling, and milk jug recycling, and mixing, and phone correspondence that goes into feeding our pigs. But, it's amazing to watch these beautiful pigs grow on nutritious food that would otherwise have become garbage. And so, working together with other local producers we are able to raise pigs that are happy, healthy on and off the hoof, with the best possible flavor, all the while reducing our grain bill.