John and I moved to Seymour, MO from Branchburg, NJ September 8, 2009. John started on the infrastructure for the Berkshire hogs right away, but it took about year until we bought our first Berkshire Gilts and Barney the Boar. The infrastructure included out buildings, range huts, fencing and underground waterers.
There was never any discussion how we would raise our Berkshire pork. They would be pasture raised!! We breed, farrow and raise our hogs 100% on pasture. The Berkshire hogs are free to roam in large pastures as well as having the ability to go into wooded areas. Essentially they are raised in a natural environment the way nature intended it to be.
We have range huts with deep straw for them to sleep in when the weather is cold. In the heat of the summer they will sleep in the cool wooded areas or you will find them lounging under the shade of the big acorn tree. In the winter sun you will find the herd sleeping in the sun. The hogs thrive in the environment and they get plenty of clean water and space.
Confinement hogs are jammed into a building with a concrete floor and that is where they spend their time until it is time to go to the market. What is wrong with this picture? It would take a lot to convince me that this is the correct way to raise an animal. What is wrong with fresh air, grass and woods to wander in?
John and I have been raising Berkshire hogs for a little over a year. We can honestly say that having hogs that are free ranged is very important to the “real” taste of the meat. The meat will be full flavored and very different from what you are used to from the supermarket. The hogs have muscle from walking and running in the fields. They have muscle from climbing the hills that make up the landscape of our property.
John and I are very passionate about the food we eat, and by managing our hogs in a natural environment the end product is definitely superb. Pasture raised Berkshire pork is higher in healthy fat and very flavorful compared to supermarket grade meat that is lower in fat and less flavorful. Pasture raised Berkshire pork is more nutritious with higher levels of vitamin E, healthy Omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients than conventionally raised pork.
Pasture raised pork is humane not only because they can move around in the outdoors, but because they can act like pigs. Pigs are very social animals, and they love to play and run around. The sows that farrow outdoors (not in farrowing crates) will build nests for their piglets. It is really fascinating to watch a sow carry material back to their farrowing hut to build her nest.
The Berkshire hog is a hardy, self-sufficient animal. They are fun to watch grow, play and eat. There would be no other way that John and I would raise our Berkshire hogs.