Pig antics and bad measurements

I suppose it’s a little macabre to write about how entertaining our pigs are just 30 hours before they are butchered, but you’ll have to forgive me. I’ve enjoyed having the pigs on our property, and I’ll be sad to see them go.

Our pigs recently declared war on a low-hanging Douglas Fir branch. Each took turns pulling the branch as far away as possible, fleeing in terror as it whipped back into position, and chewing up the pieces they tore off. I’ve made tea from Douglas Fir before. It tastes pretty good.

About two weeks ago our pigs discovered blackberry roots in this area of their pen. Since then, they’ve created some rather large archaeological excavations. (And found a complete horseshoe game set.) That hole in the background is at least a foot deep. Also, who washed our pigs?

There’s a Joel Salatin book entitled Salad Bar Beef, and this picture made me think “salad bar pork”. Our pigs may derive most their calories from purchased grain-based feed, but they’ve also been fed lots of garden produce, pumpkins, and boiled eggs. Lately they’ve been getting a whole head of bok choy each day. It’s definitely a hit. We’ve track everything they eat on the pig journal.

In other news, this past Sunday I waded into the pig pen and tried to measure them again. I say “tried”, because my measurements turned out way larger than last time. I’m not quite sure what happened, as I repeated each measurement twice, but I don’t really believe the larger pig gained 38 lbs in just 10 days. Despite the obvious flaws in my measurement technique, I’ll try one more time tomorrow.

  • Big pig
    Girth: 49″ (+2)
    Length: 44″ (+3)
    Live weight: 264 lbs (+38)
  • Little pig
    Girth: 45″ (+2)
    Length: 42″ (+2)
    Live weight: 212 lbs (+28)

Hmm, at this rate, the larger pig will be 300 lbs by Saturday. Who knew that bok choy was so fattening?

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8 Responses to Pig antics and bad measurements

  1. They look very yummy…she says as she is eating bacon ­čÖé

    You can feed them raw eggs, and save yourself a step next time. They get pretty adept at mouthing the egg carefully, cracking it, and letting the goods run down their throats. More entertainment!

  2. Woody says:

    Ours love raw eggs too. 38 lbs. in 10 days may be a stretch, but a rate of gain of 2.5 a day is not outrageous. Enjoy your harvest!

  3. Judith says:

    I have read that you do need to cook the eggs as raw eggs can cause dry skin. We just boil up a bunch of our extra duck and chicken or goose eggs and lob the over the fence for fun and games for our three.

  4. lee says:

    I had originally planned to feed them raw eggs, but I read up on Biotin deficiency and didn’t want to risk it. Egg whites contain avidin, an activated protein which strongly binds to biotin (vitamin B7). Our gut bacteria naturally produce sufficient B7 for our needs, but eating a lot of raw egg whites can quickly bind it up and lead to a deficiency. Cooking deactivates the avidin.

    To complicate matters, raw egg yokes are one the richest dietary sources of biotin. My guess is that there’s sufficient biotin in the egg yokes to balance out the avidin in the whites (presumably chicks do not hatch out B7 deficient) … but I didn’t see enough research to support this. Just to be safe, we boiled the eggs in large batches before we froze them. Once thawed, they shell out easily, the pigs didn’t seem to mind the texture, and I suspect there was less waste than you might incur from the raw eggs cracking.

    Throwback – Ha ha, I’m envious. No bacon here. We ran out a couple months ago. Yeah, I bet that would be funny to watch. I wouldn’t worry about feeding small quantities of raw eggs, but our pigs ended up getting 378 eggs during their first 3 months.

    Woody – Yeah, 3.8 lbs a day is definitely wrong. The problem I see with this measuring technique is that it is very sensitive to small errors. One inch difference in girth on the larger pig corresponds to an 11 lb change in estimated weight. I’m going to measure them again today. From the hanging weight on Saturday I can figure out how wrong my numbers were.

    Judith – Yes, that was also my decision. Dry skin is one of the early warning signs of biotin deficiency. We had a lot of fun throwing boiled eggs to the pigs as well. They really enjoy them.

  5. Benita says:

    I’m just amazed at how green it is there. We are so black and white here in Indiana, it’s boring.

    I remember fresh pork from when I was a kid and the taste was wonderful. I assume you are taking them to a locker plant for them to be butchered or are you doing it yourselves?

    And I didn’t know you could make tea with Douglas Fir. How do you go about doing that?

  6. lee says:

    I grew up in Indiana, so I know what you mean. Yes, the year-round green is pretty nice here. It gets brown in late summer, but our garden plants still grow slowly all winter. That definitely makes up for it.

    No, we hired an on-farm kill company. I don’t even know where the nearest locker plan is located.

    I found instructions for the tea on this site a couple years ago. The only critical step is making sure you identify the Douglas Fir correctly. Some coniferous trees are poisonous. Doug firs have very distinct cones, with little three-way split bracts that hang out under each scale. The Indians taught that they were the hind legs and tail of a mouse that crawled into the cone to find winter shelter. There’s a pretty good picture of it accessible from this page.

  7. Ron says:

    I didn’t know that about the raw eggs… interesting. We’ll have to try the boil-before-freezing approach.

    If you are able to take a lot of measurements, every day or few days, trying to always do it the same way, you can get a decent average of the results. Then you have a sense of whether they are gaining decent, and more or less start watching the weather forecast to determine when you will butcher.

    Ron

  8. lee says:

    A neighbor who has raised pigs asked why we simply didn’t crack the eggs into a container which we left in the freezer. That would certainly have been the most space-efficient way to store the eggs (frozen boiled eggs are bulky), but then you’d have to thaw it, cook it, and portion it out. It’s a good idea though, depending on when you want to deal with the cooking.

    Yeah, when I took the first measurement I wondered why you did yours so frequently. The second measurement answered my question. You were watching the trend, not specifically the most recent value. Regular measurements will definitely be added to my chores next time.

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