Saturday, January 3, 2015

Pigs of a Different Color

Variety is the spice of life
and the chops and the hams...and especially the sausage.

We are all about the variety here on South Pork Ranch, just stand me next to Keith and you'll understand. Livestock wise we follow the same practice. Our cows are all cross breds, the ducks have been totally visited by some odd but beautiful  genetic form that brings out browns, blacks and greys in a previously all white collection and the peacocks have a touch of flamingo in them I swear.

It is only in our Red Wattle herd where we exhibit some control, we believe in the "purity" of the breed keeping in mind that when the herd was thought to be lost but was rediscovered in Texas in the early 70's, some Durocs were used to get the breed back up in numbers. After that it was necessary to allow some Red Wattle inbreeding but over the last 5 decades the breed has evolved into something beautiful, well tempered and tasty! Oh so tasty.

Red Wattle Meat is NOT
the "other white meat"

We run both registered and unregistered stock together keeping the breeding stock separate from the feeder pig stock.  Because our breeding herd is small (one registered boar with 5 registered sows and two unregistered sows) we are able to keep track easily of who can be registered and who cannot both by ear tags and by looks. One of our unregistered sows is an obvious crossbred ( half Dalmation I believe) named Dot who we have had for several years. She has no RW in her lineage but she is always bred to an RW. She has big litters and is a great mama and her babies make the best meat hogs.

Look at this group of feeder hogs again. All about the same age (6-7 months) from two different litters. Dots are the spotted ones; the ones we call our "Spotted Wattles." They will be heading to the locker in 4 weeks and will have hanging weights of over 200 pounds. They are longer like their mama.

Now look at the Red Wattle group and note the variety in color. This litter was originally 10 who came from a registered RW boar and a registered RW sow. Of those ten, half met the strict registration guidelines set by the Red Wattle Association. Of those five "best of the best" we sold four to other breeders, keeping one nice boar (front left) for ourselves.

Nice ears: check
Well shaped wattles: check
Willingness to be cuddled: check

These boots are made for stalking...heat cycles.
The remaining hogs of that litter did not make the grade. Either their wattles were not of uniform size or placement, or their ears were not well shaped or perhaps their legs were not well aligned with the rest of their body. So genetically this group stops sharing it's traits the day they go to the locker. Instead they will grace us and our customers with amazing chops, roasts, hams, bacon and fat for lard making. It's our motto...

Breed the best and make Italian sausage for pizza night with the rest.


  1. Pukka pigs. They look really nice, and that chop looks so much better than what we're used to here. It's not easy buying quality pork here; none of my neighbours keep pigs anymore; nor do they keep hens, ducks, or geese. Laziness I think.

    1. Only 1% or so of the US hogs are raised on pasture here Cro, but more folks are doing it. The trend is slowly growing as folks are getting so tired of eating bad meat. And yes it certainly is not the most "efficient" way to raise pork but it is the healthiest; for them and us.

  2. Very interesting post, Donna. Thank you for all of it. It's of interest to me because we've come to appreciate the value of hybrid stock, but also the value of the less common heritage (or in my case, new) breeds. I think about reg vs. unreg for my Kinders, especially since this breed is good for both milk and meant (and multiple kids).

    Of our American Guinea Hogs, I have one registered (the sow) and on unreg (the boar). I didn't think much of it at the time but now wish the boar was registered too. The only reason he wasn't was because the breeder had two sows and left them and their piglets all together so that she didn't know who belonged to whom!

    I'm just now realizing that Red Wattles have real wattles! Duh! And the chops look fantastic. Yum. (Hope ours are that good looking when we get to that point. :)

    1. Thank Leigh, and don't feel bad about your wattle ignorance. When Keith used to tell me he had to AI a cow I thought it had something to do with artificial "intelligence." Sheeesh.