Winter Hogs

January 24, 2014

pigsinsnow

As is true for many of you, the weather has been interfering with our regular activity schedule lately.  My daughter, now in 7th grade basketball, often waits to hear whether or not their games will have to be postponed.   I’ve had to pay extra attention to our chickens as the wind can blow the cover off their coop, or the water may freeze – so many things can go wrong!  I get many questions this time of year about how Niman Ranch pigs handle Iowa winters.

Niman Ranch farmers raise their pigs outdoors on pasture or in deeply bedded pens. The deeply bedded pens can be in old fashioned barns, hoop buildings or other traditional farm structures.  The pigs love to root through the bedding and find a nice soft place to lie down.   This deeply bedded system provides warmth during these frigid temperatures.  When the bedding gets soiled by the pigs the farmer applies clean bedding on top. This starts a composting process which generates heat, like an electric blanket for the pigs.  The pigs can go outside to eat and get a drink whenever they want or stay inside the deeply bedded barn or hoop building to keep warm.  Inside they have plenty of room to move around and behave naturally.   Our farmers take special care during these winter months in raising their livestock.

It’s especially challenging to farrow (the mother pig giving birth) in the winter, but in order to be able to meet the demand in the summer months our farmers need to allow for this.  Typically, the best time for all baby animals is in the spring.  However, our farmers work with a mix of traditional breeds, not just for the wonderful flavor profile but also for their hardiness, which allows us to let pigs farrow during the challenging months. It takes work year round to produce our highly acclaimed meats.   We hope you will take this into consideration when you are braving the winter weather to do your grocery shopping.

Waddingham winter farrowing5

Thank you again for your continued support of our network of family farmers and ranchers, who are working hard to supply the best tasting meat all four seasons.

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