Naturally Raised without Antibiotics.
We are excited to announce the newest adventure over here at Brown Family Farm in Oak Park.
We added pigs to our farm!! They are crosses 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 for 2022 are coming from our neighbor Kim, we can see her barn from our front door. Talk about LOCAL!
Local piglets, being raised locally by yours truly, to sell to our local CSA families.
We are selling our pigs has halves and wholes again this season. We're charging a base price per pound ($3.50) 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.
2021 was our first season offering pigs and we had a great set up for them that we built, a house and feeding station. This season, 2022, we are doubling the number of pigs we're raising and also going to be expanding and separating the pig run. The reason we're doing this is because there is quite a bit of virgin ground that we are adding, and we want to be able to rotate them in groups through the pens efficiently. That way the vegetation has a chance to rebound between groups rooting & grazing.
Their pen is centered in the tall grass in our front yard, under big maples and some small poplars (which they love eating!).
As piglets we start them on a special feed. It's a higher protein feed that encourages structural & bone growth early on. After that grain is gone, we switched them to the standard feed. We're picking up 2,000 pounds at a time at the local feed mill.
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 when they're small. 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 like deer 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 their fresh hay!
I'm ready for my close up!
Building their home!
The way it works is you pay us to raise the pig for you and pay the butcher to process it for you. The cost paid to us is based on the hanging weight of the pig, we charge $3.50 per pound. The butcher prices are listed below.
Our butcher dates in 2022 start at the end of September and we will bring 5 pigs in every week through the end of October. If you sign up for a whole/half pig I will let you know when yours is going into the butcher shop and I'll ask you to call them a week beforehand to give them butchering instructions.
The butcher charges a base rate per pound to cut and wrap it:
Whole pig: $1.15
Half pig: $1.20
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 can do specialty processing (which has an extra charge) for smoking, making sausage or ground pork, making brats, with many more options available. We are working with Quality Meats right up the road from us in Foley.
From the day that we drop off our pigs to the day you pick up your processed pork is generally 3-4 weeks. The reason for this is because brining and smoking hams, sausages, etc. takes quite a bit of time. They'll call you directly when your pork is ready and you pay for processing at their shop when you go pick up.
Now that we have a years worth of data under our belts, I can share some of the examples from last season! We raised 15 pigs for slaughter last season and we had a range of 225-275 pounds hanging. (We had 4 separate butcher dates, hence the range in size).
The average of all of the pigs we raised was: 262.3 pounds. At $3.50 a pound, it was $918 for that WHOLE pig. For a half of that pig, it was $459.
Scenarios: 2021 examples
A. The half of a pig weighed 143#, our CSA friend got about 40 pounds smoked meat she said and paid $226 for processing. Their butchering averaged $1.58 per pound.
B. We kept a whole pig last season that was 288# hanging and we paid $475 for processing. We also got a ton of the fun stuff though- smoked bacon (of course), thick sliced sandwich ham, breakfast sausages, pork roasts, ham steaks, a lot of chops, and ribs too! Our price for butchering averaged $1.64 per pound.
We created an email list specifically for pigs (right here!) and the order of submission will be the order of which I reach out with availability. We will be reaching out to the list of folks who signed up in 2021 but weren't able to get a pig due to lack of availability. Returning Members- don't worry you- you will hear all about this in the blog post!
For 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).
When our pigs are spoken for this season, I will update this page.