7 Important Grilling Tips Big John and I have 7 very important grilling tips to
Here at Circle B, we believe that you, as a consumer, have the right to know the source of your Berkshire pork and how the hogs are raised and handled. John and I want our customers to know the pork they eat has been bred, farrowed, and raised on our farm. We do not buy feeder pigs! Circle B Ranch does not administer any unnecessary antibiotics, additional hormones or steroids. We have a closed herd, and we genetically control the breeding of the hogs. We are able to say without a doubt, you the customer, are getting the highest quality, best tasting Berkshire pork product that can be produced.
When we first started our farm, our mission was to keep as close to nature as possible; to let our heritage hogs do what nature intended! We do not use artificial insemination; we put the boar in with the sow and let nature take its course. When a new boar is introduced to the herd, he is in isolation for 60 days before he is placed with our gilts or sows, ensuring that he is healthy and acceptable to breed. We breed only twice a year to avoid over-breeding.
After breeding, we don’t put the sows up in a barn; they are able to roam the pasture until they give birth. The sows then have the choice of either nesting in the woods or using the farrowing huts we provide through both summer and winter. Because Circle B Ranch farrows all year long, there is no need to control when a sow decides to give birth. Giving control to the sow eliminates a lot of stress for her and there is a 50/50 chance of where she will farrow. If a sow nests in the woods, we will move her litter to a hut once she comes off the nest to feed, usually about the second or third day after the piglets are born. We like to move the litter during this time to make it easier to collect the piglets, to assess their health, and to sex them. After a week, the piglets become very wary and speedy, and they can avoid capture by scattering and hiding under leaves. It is better to get them acclimated to a hut before that happens.
Our farrowing huts are insulated, so they keep the pigs warm in winter and cool in the summer. The huts have an inspection hatch that allows us to access and assess the sow and piglets if necessary. The hatch also vents off heat in the summer. During the winter, we do not provide heated barns or heat lamps; the piglets depend on the sow and each other for warmth, ensuring that the sow is doing a good job and that we have hardy stock. Even on the most frigid winter days, the huts are comfortable and warm due to the sow’s body heat. The little farrow hut collects the sow’s body heat and stays warm even when she goes to feed. As you can see below, the sow builds a tight nest in the hut to keep the piglets near her for suckling and to keep them tightly nested when she leaves to forage.
Circle B Ranch usually weans our litters between 6-8 weeks during the summer or 8-10 weeks during the winter…or when the piglet group is outside of our back patio. Until this point the piglets are always with the sow, getting breast milk, grubs, and nuts and grasses from the land; before this, their stomachs are too immature to handle the supplemented vegetarian diet of soy and corn mix feed that we provide. When we separate the piglets from their mothers, they are not parted from each other but kept with their litter-mates. We do this to keep stress on the piglets to a minimum. We want our animals to experience everything as naturally as possible.
We firmly believe that pork quality depends on genetics, fresh water and feed, and an environment as close to nature as possible. A hardy stock left to do what hogs do naturally produces a healthy, hardy animal which translates into the most nutritious and best tasting product for our customers.