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'Berkie' Babies: Raising Berkshire Heritage-Breed Pigs

| 7/5/2016 2:57:00 PM

Jethro harnessed to travel

We had thrown the idea around for years of raising pigs. We first talked about raising them for meat production but didn’t know if we would be able to complete the process start-to-finish. Alan didn’t like the idea of taking the animals to a slaughter house to kill and be packaged. He likes to do his own butchering — then he knows how the meat is handled and how sanitary the slaughter is.

We learned all the rules and regulations — in North Carolina, you have to take the animal to a certified slaughterhouse because it cannot be done on-farm — and decided this approach was not for us. But we still wanted to do something with pigs. We just loved everything about the Berkshire. They’re so cute! So we decided we would raise a breeding pair and produce heritage-breed piglets.

The planning is usually the easiest part. Actually putting it into motion is another thing. We finally found a pure-breed female that was produced from AI (artificial insemination), but the owner did not have the paperwork. We were just glad we found a pure female, because we had looked for a long time.

Sourcing a Pure-Bred Berkshire Male

We also wanted a pure, intact male, but these owners didn’t have any stock that were not related. We went ahead and bought a little male that was a brother to our female. He had been castrated, so we would be able to keep them together. Pigs do better with a companion, otherwise they get easily stressed. They do really well with other animals, including goats and chickens.

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