NEW FOR 2021 SEASON!
We are excited to announce the newest adventure over here at Brown Family Farm in Oak Park.
We're adding pigs to our farm!! They are all cross between Berkshire and Duroc, both are well known heritage breeds. These pigs have earned their reputation and are raised for their fat to muscle ratio. For best flavor and tenderness pork should have marbling, which helped us choose our breed! Our piglets came from Wayne, a fellow farmer about a half hour away in Cambridge MN.
Local piglets, being raised locally by yours truly, to sell to our local CSA families.
We are selling our pigs has halves and wholes this season. We're charging a base price per pound ($3) and you work directly with our butcher to customize your processing. The thickness of your chops, the amount of hams or roasts, seasoned sausage, you get to choose what you want! Butchering costs are separate and paid directly to the butcher. More info on this below.
William supervising the little piggies while getting used to their new home.
H A P P Y & H E A L T H Y
Animal husbandry should be your first question when considering locally raised meats. How are they cared for? What do they eat? Where do they live and how much space do they have?
Our hogs are raised in a pasture with a shelter and have 100% fresh air, all of the time. They don't go into the barn for anything. That sounds like we're not letting them in the barn but in reality they don't want to be in a barn! They aren't meant to be raised on concrete or in cages under fluorescent lights. Hogs are the ultimate forest creature; their natural habitat allows them to exercise their instincts to root up the ground looking for bugs, worms, roots, and any organic material they can find. Yes, they eat grass too! They are omnivores.
Ben & I (Jodi) built the pig pen in an afternoon. It was a lot of work, don't get me wrong! Even though there were fenced areas already established, we chose to build them a pen that encapsulated a large area of virgin ground because of the nutritional value of that it holds for them. Their pen is in the tall grass under big maples and some small poplars (which they love eating!). In June we will be building onto the existing pen and opening up more virgin ground for them. We'd like to eventually establish several runs that we can rotate them in.
As piglets we bought 1,000 pounds of pig starter for them. That's a higher protein feed that encourages structural & bone growth early on. After that grain was gone, we switched them to the standard feed. We're picking up 2,000 pounds at a time at the local feed mill. I'm basically geeking out every time I go in there because it's so cool. It's a small creamery where farmers bring their milk and pick up grain for livestock. It's got this really cool small town feel where there are ten old farmers standing around talking cattle, there is a single cooler for goods, and they don't sell anything not farm related. That's about 5 minutes from our house, the Foreston Creamery.
We offer our feed as "free choice" so they have access all the time, to as much or as little as they want. It encourages healthy eating habits where they're not gorging themselves. It also allows them to forage at their own pace and let their natural instincts shine. They can spend as much or as little effort foraging as they want. Though it seems to be their favorite thing to do!
They also get a new hay bale every 4-5 days right now. They cherry pick through it and get all the seeds and tasty remnants. We have been using it as "bedding" because it is what we had on hand. Previous farm owners had left a lot of hay in the loft so we're steadily working through it. It's a welcomed surprise for these pigs for sure! It's hay (not straw) so it does hold a small amount of nutritional value to them but I'd say the main benefit is comfort. They make a "hog pile" in the hay and bed down like a bunch of baby birds in a nest.
Once farm season starts and we have produce to dispose of, the pigs will be extra-happy campers. We know from previous experience, they welcome produce! Honestly that's why the wild animals eat it too right? It tastes GOOD! So as soon as we're in harvest season they'll be supplemented with plenty of fresh produce.
Enjoying my time with one of our piglets!
Enjoying their fresh hay!
I'm ready for my close up!
This is where we built their home!
The way it works is we will raise the pigs and send them to the butcher where they will process them to your preference. When they arrive at the butcher they'll call you and talk through the options you have to choose from for processing and packaging. All the way down to "how many chops per package"?
The cost is based on the hanging weight of the pig (not the on the hoof weight). We charge $3 a pound.
The butcher charges $1 a pound as the base rate to cut and wrap it, which you pay directly to them when you pick up. You can decide how you want it cut up, how thick you want your pork chops, how many of the roasts you want smoked (making it a ham- delicious!!), sausage, etc. They charge an extra 50cents a pound for making ground pork, 99cents for making ground sausage with seasoning, and $1.45 for curing and smoking (this would be like hams and bacon). We are working with Quality Meats right up the road from us in Foley.
Because this is our first time raising hogs for slaughter at a butcher shop I'm not sure exactly what size to expect. I'll lay out some hypotheticals here to give you an idea of costs.
If the pig is 180 pounds hanging weight, at $3 a pound the pig would cost $540. If the pig is 250 pounds hanging weight at $3 a pound it would cost $750. This is our cost for raising the pig; processing is extra.
Processing is paid directly to the butcher; it's $1 a pound but let's say you get some of the specialty stuff, so it averages out to be $1.75 per pound. If the pig was 180# hanging, the processing cost would be $315. If the pig was 250# hanging weight the processing would cost $435.
180# hanging weight:
farmer $540 + butcher $315= $855 for the whole pig. Half pig would be $430.
250# hanging weight:
farmer $750 + butcher $435= $1,185 for the whole pig. Half pig would be $595.
**This fall when we get our butcher weights we will post it on this webpage. That way you'll have real scenarios instead of hypotheticals. The cost for raising it and butchering it doesn't fluctuate at all (prices posted here!)- it's the weight of the pig that truly determines your take home cost.
Due to the nature of starting out, our pilot year, we have a very limited supply. Due to that, our pigs are only available to current CSA Members. We will create an email list specifically for pigs (right here!) and the order of submission will be the order of which I reach out with availability.
In the foreseeable future, we'll only be selling our pigs to our CSA Members. We need to satisfy the needs of our Members before we consider adding any new customers.
Please enter your email here if you're interested in getting a half or whole hog. I will start at the top of the submissions and check in with each person one at a time. (This might seem silly to some, but if I posted it for sale on our website we couldn't control who was able to buy a pig; CSA Member or not).
If you enter your name on this list this year and don't get a pig (we only have 15 for sale, that's not a lot), you'll have priority next spring. Ben & I have talked about expanding some for next season and with that, we'll be announcing it for our returning Members in January of 2022.