Keeping pigs

Keeping pigs or any other animals

Postby » Wed Apr 12, 2006 9:38 pm

andyb wrote:No pigs aren't violent, Tamworths are boisterous and noisy, but very friendly..
I have heard of large amounts of pigs ganging up on a weak one but I thinbk this is more a product of thoughtless husbandry than bad tempered pigs...get em young and treat them well and they will reward you..



Two more, possibly daft questions(!)

How much land would I need to keep, say half a dozen? And, how much meat does one pig generally yeild say on average?

Love sausages?
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Postby Vernon Smith » Sun Jul 09, 2006 2:26 pm

Hi from the S. Pacific.
I have read with great interest all your posts, especially those from ceebee and GrAsUK. I raise pigs and make small goods in the Solomon Islands. I should have retired and took up pig breeding as a hobby but since I got onto Franco in September last year it is running away with me. I first bought some sausage seasoning, hog casings and a hand mincer/filler and got into home sausage making with a lot of help from other very kind members (Oddley, Paul Kribs, Wohoki, Welsh Wizard and Spuddy, to name but a few). I slaughter two pigs a month but can't get good sausages here for love nor money. The idea of my own pork in my own sausages appealed to me. Then I got into bacon and ham curing followed by smoking and my latest addition is salami. The result of all this is that I can't keep up with the demand so it's becoming more of a retirement job than just a hobby.

Oddley wanted to know how people like me unintentionally fetch up in the most unlikely places, so here goes.......

Many of we 60 year olds we have reinvented ourselves and changed direction many times in our lives. I am no exception. I would never have dreamed a few years ago that I would be living here breeding pigs, milling timber and producing copra, coconut oil and bio-fuel. I was born in London but raised in Andalucia until I was about 8 then back to the UK for school and University College Hospital, London for my MB. I didn't like all the sick people I saw every day so I gave that up and took various courses in embryology, physics & organic chemistry before joining MAFF, Whitehall. Whilst there, in my spare time, I wrote my Masters paper on palaeolithic hominid evolution at the Instutute of Archaeology, Tavistock Square. I left MAFF after 3 years to be ordained and work in the Archdiocese of London for the Sunday School programme for a further 3 years. Meanwhile I found time to get married in 1970 and was offered an interesting position with an insolvency practitioner who had a number of businesses under his receivership. One company was trading with Ecuador in Balsa wood so, armed with my neglected Andaluciano with best Islington accent, I took it over and traded out of trouble. I became a self-taught expert in restructuring businesses and pulling them out of receivership then appointing managers or selling them on. Other businesses followed including a petrol station with repair shop, injection moulding & precision engineering. I taught myself from necessity how to sell petrol, panel beat and respray cars, run injection moulding machinery, make moulding tools and high precision engine parts mainly for the MoD. Most importantly I learned how to make �1 do the work of �2 or more. What were my qualifications to do all this? Absolutely none at all.

By the mid 80's Balsa from Ecuador became very expensive so in 1989/90 I researched and set up my own Balsa plantations, timber mill and kiln dryers in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea and introduced Balsa as a commercial species to the Solomon Islands in 1993. That was all working well until 1994 when the 3 volcanoes around Rabaul erupted burying the town and my plantations and mill in 16ft of volcanic ash that turned to cement the following week when it rained. Luckily I was here in the Solomons at the time doing some extension work for my belated PhD (Sustainable Management of Tropical Forests). In 1986 my wife had begun showing symptoms of schizophrenia that deteriorated until she had to be put under permanent Local Authority supervision in 1989. With permission from my Bishop I obtained a divorce in 1994 on the above grounds, gave all my businesses away to the employees, retired from business and moved here to the Solomons. I married my present wife in 1996. I still hold my Orders and celebrate morning service every day for the surrounding community. Many of them help out with my pigs and I run workshops from time to time on simple husbandry. Amazingly, most of them haven't a clue so even the little I have learned means a lot to them. My wife, from Choiseul, one of the most westerly islands, runs a small store and serves lunches from an annexe at the front of our house in an industrial area East of Honiara. The store is also our outlet for pork and small goods. Well there you have it, so now to pigs.

I run a 2 breeding sow unit from the yard at the back of my house. These each produce an average of 2 litters of 8 piglets per year so I have just over one porker per fortnight to slaughter and process. I have another 3 breeders with a friend about a mile away who sells off the weaners to local farmers who have some basic husbandry knowledge. Picture of my piggery is attached for interest. Very basic but with good shade, dry concrete floor and 24/7 water from drinking valves.


I note what ceebee and co. say about popular breeds in the UK and I too go for a Large White-Duroc cross. The only difference is that we keep a trace of local feral gene in the Large Whites to prevent laminitis and other ailments that European breeds can suffer in the tropics. It usually works well. Mange and trichinella can cause problems but a clean sty and good quarantine usually avoids infestation. I spray my piggery (but not the pigs) twice a year with NaoH solution and I seems to work well. My sows are given prophyllactic shots of Ivomec a month before each farrowing. Better safe than sorry. I always prepare the jot myself and I've never seen a trichinella yet. I don't allow alien stock into my sty. This isn't a problem because I have a working Large White boar for the Duroc sow and the Large White sow gets AI from a friend's Duroc Boar.

Picture of my Large White Sow follows. She is 60 days in farrow so 55 to go. She is a bit overweight at 180 kg but she's a good breeder and produces exceptional milk. I weaned her last litter after 5 weeks and the piglets averaged 14kg. I could hardly believe the scales.


I think I must be lucky here when it comes to feeding. I get millrun from a local flour mill for say �1.80 per 40kg bag and spent copra meal for say �2.80 per 60kg bag. I mix my own feed 47%/47% millrun/spent copra and 6% fishmeal from a local cannery that costs about �8.00 for a 40 kg bag. The whole lot works out to to less than 5p per kg. Must cost a lot more than that in the UK. The waste food from the lunches and house goes to the pigs too and they thrive on it. The pic. below shows some of my Large White/Duroc crosses at 6 months. They average 60kg each. I usually raise my weaners for 40 weeks to get 120kg to 140kg live weight. I aim for 100kg to 120kg dressed weight so this is about right. Surprisingly, there always seems to be about 20kg loss in the dressing regardless of the size of the pig. The offal, blood, hair and epidermis must reach a threshold of 20kg at say 80kg body weight and never exceed that weight so it makes sense for me to produce bigger pigs that have a higher percentage meat yield.


Large White-Duroc crosses are known to grow fast and I am delighted with the results I get. The meat is good and back fat is not more than 10mm. The shoulders are perfect for sausage, the loins are perfect for bacon and the hams are excellent for roasting joints or curing. The head and trotters go for brawn which people here rave about and the blood, of course, black pudding. Fortunately I have a source of pearl barley and rolled oats here.

OK my friends, that's all from me for now. Let me have some feedback from other pigeries so I can compare notes. We never stop learning.
Best regards
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Vernon Smith
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Postby porker » Sun Jul 09, 2006 3:04 pm

Hi Vernon,

Please excuse the intrusion, I injoyed your post & pics.
I too have kept pigs in the past, but until lately, I was never able to make proper bacon and now sausages!! I am married and live in Ireland I have been searching for over 20 years for my we corner of paradise, been to Australia, Africa, USA, and most of Europe...I am very hard to please! I am looking for somewhere firstly with good weather (but not too hot) ideally with seasons, where English is spoken and where a pound goes a very long way!!

Perhaps you could tell me more about the Solomon Islands, I too would like to get back to keeping pigs and this time I would be able to produce good saleable produce.

Best Regards,

Stephen :)
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Postby Patricia Thornton » Mon Jul 10, 2006 8:15 am

I once saw a television programme about how badly pigs were treated by some breeders and decided I would no longer eat pork; until then it had always been my favourite meat. Co-incidentally that week my husband saw an advert in a local paper for some piglets and suggested we raise our own as his father had done many years previously. At the time we lived in S.W. Scotland with an acre of garden, half of which was fenced off for our 20 or so egg producing chickens. It seemed like a good idea so off we went and brought home 2 piglets.

They were adorable, immediately named Big Red and Spot, went out for a walk with my husband every day and loved their daily treat of custard cream biscuits. You can probably guess the rest.................

When the time came, off they went for slaughter and thence to a butcher. One came back as bacon and the other as pork and they both went into the new freezer (bought for the occasion) and there they (mostly) stayed.

I not only had a problem cooking them, I just couldn't bring myself to eat them and eventually we gave them all away. To this day, my husband's sister-in-law seems to take pleasure in telling me that it was the sweetest pork she has ever eaten, whereas I reverted to buying pork from a butcher and try not to think of the animal it came from.

For what it's worth, my advice on this topic is; if you decide to keep an animal that you are going to eat it can be very rewarding but don't give it a name.
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Postby jenny_haddow » Mon Jul 10, 2006 5:12 pm

I used to stay in Suffolk during the summer as a child, far cry from north London where I spent the rest of the year. The family nearby raised the runt of the litter and kept it in the house. The runt became a lively piglet named Greta Grunter who lived in the house and quite liked a kip on the sofa during the afternoon!
As the sofa heaved under the strain of the increasing weight of growing pig it was decided the time had come to do the deed and Greta became a large selection of pork joints and cuts. We all remembered her with fondness as each plateful was consumed. Charlie the chicken also went down well if I remember rightly.
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Postby vinner » Tue Jul 11, 2006 12:23 am

Vernon, please keep up with the authoring of the tales and exploits of your life. Aside from being beyond fascinating on its face, your style is intriguing and captivating. While at first seeming to being a factual if brief detail of how you got into pigging, it is nonetheless a great read.

Mine would be..." trying to raise trophy whitetail deer and Axis deer, and keeping the wild turkey and bob white quail populations at a level that the carrying capacity of the year-to-year changes of rainfall demand, we have had to harvest and enjoy an average of 40 wild Texas boar per year"...

It would seem that we would all learn more from your jorney and style than from mine.
" To be the stewards of what we have been given, to reap what we sow, to enjoy the harmony of it all.

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