Sow to Sausage - The Life of a Pastured Pig

written by

Rachel Palma

posted on

March 4, 2023

Happy almost-Spring to you!

We wanted to take a minute to walk you through the life of our pastured pigs (using lots of pictures, of course!)

The phrase "pastured pig" can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people.

Our aim at Restoration Acres is to be as transparent as possible with how we raise our animals and how we get our products from field to plate. 

So what better way to be transparent than to show you, in pictures, what we mean when we say "Pastured Pork?"

Take a look below to see what we mean!

Meet our top boar, Queso

We are all about natural processes. So let's talk about the birds and the bee....actually, let's just say we let our animals do the work when it comes to breeding!

While some farmers prefer to do artificial insemination on their animals to ensure higher success rates, we're more inclined to be involved as little as possible when it comes to this task.

This means we time the sows' cycles when putting them with the boars and make sure our breeding stock stays healthy and robust in order to get the highest success rates possible.

The Sow Life

Currently, we keep 12 sows in the breeding rotation. Our sows live on pasture and get rotated to fresh grass on a regular basis. 

As seen in the photo above, we use portable pig huts for shade as well as for farrowing - a term used for the process of a sow birthing her piglets.

Most sows will make a nest out of hay and grass leading up to farrowing.

We allow our sows to farrow in the pasture with these huts, fresh hay, and the protection of an electrified net surrounding them. 

Just as with the breeding stage, we prefer to be as hands-off as possible with the farrowing stage. We don't assist our sows with their births (they don't need our help!) And they are incredible birthers, by the way, having upwards of 14 piglets per litter...twice a year!

The Weaning Stage - Bye Mom!

Before you get too sad, know that by this stage these mama's are ready to wean those piglets! After all, many of them have been nursing 10-12 piglets several times a day for the past 6+ weeks (notice in the photo they're more interested in the food than the squealing piglets.)

Each piglet is caught up into our "piglet catcher" and moved to an area near our feeder pigs to meet the herd and be trained to the electric fence.

The Herd

This is our herd of feeder pigs, AKA pigs we are growing out for meat.

We run a herd of mixed sizes and ages, sorting out as needed the ones ready for processing.

Our feeder herd gets moved to fresh pasture every 1-2 weeks, depending on the season, weather, and size of the herd.

They are free to roam in a large "paddock," or fenced area, surrounded by electric fencing to keep the pigs in and the coyotes out.

The pigs feast on grasses and other plants, berries, nuts, and grubs, as well as a high quality mix of non-GMO grains and minerals sourced from a local mill and regional grain growers.

The Finish Line

At the end of their wonderful piggy life, our pigs experience a relatively low-stress sorting, loading and hauling process.

Step 1: Sort out the largest pigs from the herd using sorting boards, feed and a separate electric fence chamber (pictured above).

Step 2: Walk the sorted pigs to a central location on the farm where the permanent corral is located.

Step 3: The next day, walk the pigs onto a large livestock trailer and drive them just under 2 hours to the processor where they spend the night in a cozy barn.

Step 4: Well, you can probably figure out the rest from here...

Thanks for reading and for your continued support! We couldn't do what we do without you. 

Matt & Rachel Palma & family

Restoration Acres Farm

"Food that Restores"

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Vitamin D in Pastured Pork

If our pigs are constantly exposed to sunlight in every season from day 1 until the end of their life, think about how much Vitamin D they are absorbing through their skin! And all that Vitamin D is getting stored where? In their fat. So, when we eat pork from pastured pigs, especially their fat, we are consuming that ever-important fat soluble Vitamin D.