As discussed in our previous article, Circle B Ranch weans our piglets between 6-10 weeks of age, depending upon the season. After the piglets are weaned, we rotate them through a series of pens until they are sent off for processing. The sorting and rotation procedure occurs about once a month.
Why do we go through this procedure? We pasture-raise our pigs from the beginning, meaning that they are allowed to roam free within their large, open pens and feed off of the land. By raising them this way, we raise them as naturally as possible. They are not cooped up like CAFO pigs. They are not fed unnecessary supplements such as antibiotics or hormones.
Circle B Ranch is Certified Humane Raised and Handled and Animal Welfare Approved, so we operate by their rigorous standards. Animal Welfare Approved Standards decree that animals should be treated and be able to behave as naturally as possible. This helps maintain an animal’s physical and mental health, improves the nutritional quality of the food that is produced, and does not harm the environment. In other words, we rotate the pigs as they mature to help preserve the environment and improve the health and over-all well being of our pigs.
We start with the juvenile pen, where the piglets will stay as they begin to grow and put on weight.
After 1-2 months, we then rotate the pigs to another pen. This middle pen gives them even more room to roam and fresh grassland from which to forage. We continue to alternate the pigs through various middle pastures as they mature.
Eventually, the pigs arrive at the last pen, which we call the “finishing” pen, where they remain until they reach processing weight.
The pigs reach processing weight, 250 pounds, at about 8-10 months of age. They are then sorted and gathered up once a week to be taken to the processor. If a pig weighs more than 250 pounds, it is still taken to be processed.
When the processor receives our pigs, they are processed according to our specifications and USDA approved standards. We later return to pick up the cuts—the Circle B Ranch products we proudly offer to our customers.