Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Good-Bye Dozer, Hello Bolt!

We recently said goodbye to Dozer. A few months ago, we acquired some young gilts (female pigs that have not yet farrowed (given birth)) due to the positive response we have had to our pork. Because they are smaller than our full grown sows, (females that have farrowed before) Dozer was simply too big to use as our breeding boar. He is 1100 lbs, they are 300 lbs. You can run into problems like damaging backs, hips, knees, etc… if you allow a big mature boar to mount young gilts. We loved Dozer for his strong genetics, mellow temperament, and loving personality. We simply are not large enough of a farm to justify having several boars around. Boars are very hard on fencing, gates, feeders, and watering systems and therefore cost us money and time in terms of maintenance. Since he was the oldest, we thought it wise to let him go first since he had the least amount of breeding life left. We took him over to our neighbors and good friends, Rich and Amanda who provided a home from him away from the other pigs. We kept him there for about 5 weeks feeding him fresh greens and alfalfa. The purpose for this was to help settle the hormones in his system. The fresh greens help make him lean. The greens are also high in nitrogen which bonds to the two chemicals in boars that can cause boar taint. When the nitrogen bonds to the chemicals, it changes the molecules to where it no longer affects the taste of the meat. That is, if the boar has boar taint. New research is showing that boar taint can actually be bred out of pigs with selective breeding. Many boars don’t have boar taint to begin with.

Well, after five weeks, we took him to the butcher. The butcher called me a few days later and told me to come down and get a piece of meat. He cut me a piece off the carcass and I took it home and cooked it in a frying pan. I wanted to do this so that if there was any taint, it would be easy to sense, especially with Hollie’s “prego” nose. I swear pregnant women have stronger senses than a bloodhound. Anyway, we cooked the meat and couldn’t smell anything but delicious Berkshire pork. I called my brother in law, Stan who came over. He couldn’t smell anything either. We all tried the pork and it tasted just fine. So I called the butcher back and told him go ahead and process the whole thing into breakfast sausage. We recently got the sausage back and it is delicious. The sausage is packaged in 1 lb packages and sells for $2.49/lb. For those of you watching your weight, this sausage is very lean. We use it in spaghetti sauce, biscuits and gravy, sloppy joes, you name it. We us it anywhere we would use hamburger. The extra seasoning makes everything delicious.

For now we are using our back up boar Bowser (named by our boys who are currently going through a Mario phase). He is smaller and younger than Dozer, which allows us to use him on our smaller gilts.

We are looking forward to using Bolt who is the newest addition to our herd. He is a young boar, only three months old. We have been waiting for months to get a strong boar from a farm in Arizona. Their main boar is Perfect Blend who is well, perfect! He is the perfect specimen of how a Berkshire pig should look. Nicki Trump with Arizona Berkshires, the boar’s owner, has been keeping an eye out on his litters to find us the perfect boar that reflects the qualities of Perfect Blend. We have waited several months, but finally have a good boar with clean bloodlines, strong genetics and a long breeding life in front of him. We will begin to use him in 5 or 6 months. We would like to give a special thanks to Nicki Trump for the fantastic breeding program she runs and for her kindness and help in finding the perfect new boar for our herd.

PS. As an update I have included some pictures of our last litter. They grow so fast and are looking amazing with large round hams, and broad shoulders.

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