Sunday, April 15, 2012

Raising Miniature Livestock

   When we dreamed about raising our own animals for food I always wanted miniatures. Miniature cows,pigs,goats,sheep and donkeys. Research had shown they would be easier for me and the girls to handle,take up less space and wouldn't require as much grain. We are still deciding on exactly which breed of each we will end up with. As of now we have 1 ranling(painted desert) 1 nubian buckling,2 min. rabbits,an assortment of chickens,2 pekin ducks and as of yesterday 1 pot belly pig.
As I was looking up pot bellied pigs last night I was surprised at the lack of information on raising them for meat. There was a ton of websites extolling their virtues as pets but very few about the meat they could provide a family.I finally found a good website about them and was surprised to see a page about the hate mail they had received. I was even more surprised to find out that several farmers had gone underground or stopped raising these pigs altogether because of the harassment they received from individuals or groups who consider them only as pets.
    Here is a little background info on these pigs from Raising Miniature Livestock.
In 1985,Canadian zoo director Keith Connell traveled to Vietnam and brought back 18 pigs of  the one breed,planning to breed and sell them to other zoos in North America.In 1986 he sold some to American pet breeders and the potbellied craze took off.Pretty soon everyone was raising and selling these pigs as pets thinking they wouldn't get much bigger then when they bought them.Yes, potbellied pigs are smaller than the standard domestic pigs but they can reach up to 200 lbs or more. Here people were house training these little pigs but pretty soon didn't want a 150-200 lb pig in their house. Worse,owners quickly discovered that pigs are smart,strong willed and they live their lives from a pigs point of view.Behaviors like rooting(all the linoleum from the kitchen floor),chewing(interior walls) and nipping to establish a place in the herd(which comprised the humans in their household) upset pig owners very much! Owners who worked through problems with their house pigs loved them,they ones who didn't begin giving them away.Pig sanctuaries sprang up across the country and humane groups became inundated with unwanted pigs,yet promoters breeding more piglets because there were still interested new buyers.
  In Vietnam and Thailand these pigs are raised for meat as are other animals we in America only raise in pet status.We plan on raising potbellied pigs along with American Guinea hogs as livestock to provide meat for our family and friends.
The American Guinea hog  is not a guinea pig nor is it a potbelly pig. The Guinea hog is small, weighing 150-250 pounds and standing about 17 inches as an adult. They are black and often hairy with upright ears, and a curly tail. These hogs are long and lean. They have the appearance of a small bacon hog, although they are classified as a lard hog.  The background of the guinea hog is mysterious. There is some discussion of them having a West African origin with Essex blood mixed in as well. Guinea hogs are unique to America. In the late 1800's to early 1900's, they were a popular breed. These are considered a rare heritage breed and farmers are working on bringing them back into popularity for small homesteads.(
   It will be interesting to see what we eventually end up with on our farm and what the journey holds along the way.

 Blessed Be.


Rivenfae said...

I hope you come up with a good set of mini(s) to get for you all. I've personally considered the thought of getting some potbellies for meat... but I'm not sure how it would "go over" locally as I have seen "pet" supplies for them locally...

Penny said...

They are raised for pets around here also, but we live way out in the country so I won't have to worry to much about the locals,lol

tabitha said...

well written!

Penny said...

Thank you,

Bonnie MS said...

Very well written and interesting! My husband is a city boy and is interested in miniature animals for us(he wants to make pets of everything so I told him breeders can be pets as long as they produce food) and we weren't sure what kind of pig to get. There is both pet and meat pigs available near us but not as much information of raising them for meat. Do you butcher your own? How does the whole process go? The though of butchering and processing a commercial breed pig is so intimidating I am hoping it is easier with smaller pigs :)
Blessed Be
Bonnie MS