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best way to feed pigs for charcuterie?

PostPosted: Fri May 28, 2010 9:08 pm
by bigJ
I'm off to collect my next two weaners this weekend, i've gone for mangalitzas this time as i believe that they were originally bred for curing, producing meat that is slightly darker and more marbled than other traditional breeds. I was wondering what is the best way to feed them if curing is the main object. In the past i've used mainly proprietory pig finisher supplemented with whatever veg i can grow for them, and this time i was hoping to increase the veg, along with brewers grains that i can pick up at a very advantageous price (Free! :lol: ) and grow them slower to achieve maximum flavour in the meat.
I was wondering how long the effect of the diet remains in the meat, i'm thinking for example of the acorn fed spanish black foot pigs that are used to make pate negra, presumably they are not totally fed on acorns as they are a seasonal thing (or do they store them?). I have read that when finishing a pig cut out the 'rubbish' and feed them on your choosen speciality diet (i.e acorns), how long before slaughter should one start to do this?
incidentally i've read that peas and hay are both good for flavouring the meat, and also that horse chestnuts are palatable to pigs and up here in the frozen wastelands of north cumbria i can get conkers far more readily than acorns, could they possibly be the secret ingredient to send my hams on the path to global fame and fortune?
Any thoughts or comments greatfully received.

PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 9:09 pm
by vinner
I think I read somewhere that 3 months is an appropriate amount of time to gain the flavor profile you want. As a side, when I worked in a restaurant during college, the head chef had the dishwashers put all of the edible waste in two separate 55 gallon barrels, and fed them to his hogs. He raised some award winning pigs, and the feed was free salads, steaks, ratatouille, partially eaten baked potatoes, chicken, shrimp tails, the whole menu, really.

PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2010 10:40 am
by bigJ
thanks for that vinner, 3 months sounds sensible, as for the other feeding i'm afraid thats forbidden over here, basically if its been in a kitchen you can't give it too a pig!

PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:10 pm
by RodinBangkok
I have not raised hogs since I left our family farm so many years ago, but I'd suggest letting them range, feed and root if you have the space, we fed out at about 2 months prior to slaughter. Here in Thailand we used to have what we called seafood bacon, as there is so much waste from the seafood industry, they would feed out on basically fish meal type products, and the flavor would be really pronounced in the cuts we purchased. Nothing like that taste of prawns in your morning bacon!

feeding pigs

PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:59 pm
by Temple Farm
Hi just thought you should know it is illegal to feed pigs anything that has come out of a kitchen in the uk and especialy anything potentialy contaminated with meat products - I'm pretty sure fish too - check out the defra web-site.

PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:05 pm
by Cod
Hi BigJ,

I usually buy a few weaners in May and run them through till the end of oct early nov (Saddlebacks this time). Same as you we feed a proprietory pig feed, but run them on pasture and supplement with veg from the gardens and any thing else we can get our hands on. We finish them in the apple orchards which is great..................swear to God you can taste the sweetness in the meat.

Having said that the orchard always ends up looking like its been carpet bombed!!!

PostPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2010 1:24 am
by gunfighter
For my money free range pork is the best. I would recommend vegetables and green forage. I would stay away from the grain based products if you are looking for flavor more than size. The best pork I have tasted was feral hogs in the 150 to 200 lb. class. Great sport for hunting too. Melon rinds, carrot tops beet greens and all unused garden products except tomato vines work well.

PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2010 6:18 pm
by Ryan C
Pigs destined for Parma ham can only be fed a diet of grains and whey (leftovers from making Parmesan cheese). According to Italian law they must be at least ten months old and weigh a minimum of 140kg.

As for the Pata Negra pigs used for jamon Iberico, the animals are reared in complete freedom eating only natural products. After weaning they are fed on grass, seeds, bulbs and grain until they reach about 80-115kg.
Once they have achieved this weight they are moved to the fattening, or montanera stage, when they feed largely on the dehesa's abundant acorns. ( up to 10kg a day!! from November to January - each tree only produces about 10kg of acorns a year!). They also graze on fresh grass, roots and aromatic herbs which supposedly impart delicate flavours to the meat.
There is no specific age at which to slaughter, it happens when the pig reaches about 150-180kg.

All the best