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Ingrid and Bartholomew Are Home

Have you ever had something that seemed so far out of your reach that you never even took the goal seriously? That is how I felt when I first looked at Large Black Hogs. I was overwhelmed by a desire to be a part of bringing this breed back in the United States, and yet, actually owning a breeding pair seemed impossibly out of reach. At first I only dreamed of them, researching and digging through all the information that I could find on the Livestock Conservancy page, and then on Google as a whole. The more I learned, the more my desire to be a breeder grew. When I reached out to Fur Immer Farm and started speaking to Kelly (our breeder) about actually owning them I decided that the impossible goal could be possible.

In February 2021 we put a deposit down on a breeding pair, set to be born in June. Then in June Sharif's car died and we were forced to buy another vehicle. By God's grace we were able to purchase a truck that was exactly what our family needed from a friend, but it took our savings that were going to be put toward the pigs. With a heavy heart we informed our breeder of what had happened, and looked forward to getting breeding stock from her December litters.

It had felt like a blessing in a way because at the time we didn't have the fencing that we would need in place. After all, Bartholomew will grow to be 700-800 lbs and require adequate fencing. In July we were blessed and able to put a perimeter fence around our land, as well as partitioning off an additional pasture for our goats, which freed up an ideal pasture for the pigs, so all that was left to do was wait...or so we thought. Early in August a series of very fortunate events took place that allowed us to bring home the pigs. And so, Sharif and I drove 15 hours round trip to Pennsylvania to pick up Ingrid and Bartholomew, our beloved breeding pair of Large Black Hogs.

Now let me explain to you what makes them so special. Large Blacks are an old world breed of hog, tracing back to Southern England, and showing up in the US sometime in the early 1900's. They were very popular in their early days in the US as they raise out well on pasture, grow to an impressive size with delicious meat, have large litters, and are generally very good mothers. However, like so many back yard breeds, after WWII when industrialized farming took the place of small operations, the breed almost disappeared entirely in the US. They are currently considered a critically endangered breed on the Livestock Conservancy's list of heritage breeds ( with less than 500 registered in the US. We plan to be a part of the change.

One of the things that I find most impressive about this breed is that they can be kept in family units. This means that sow, boar, and piglets can occupy the same space, with the boar even sharing parenting duties with the sow. In our set up we will have Ingrid farrow in a birthing stall that will be equipped with farrowing bars to keep the piglets safe. Once they are old enough to move freely and follow Ingrid, they will be allowed back into the pasture with both Ingrid and Bartholomew, where they will learn all the ins and outs of being pigs. It is this type of animal husbandry that lights my heart on fire. We know that many, if not most, of each litter will end up being food (we will only register and sell the best of each litter as breeding stock) but that does not mean that we don't want each day they spend on our farm to be joyful.

Raising them in this way also produces a better quality and tastier meat. When Large Black Pigs are allowed to forage and live on pasture from a young age they grow to produce meat that is micro-marbled with fat. This allows for the meat to baste as it cooks which produces a tender and moist end result. As with all animals that are raised on grass, in the sun, the meat and lard (more on the health benefits of pastured lard to come) will also contained the added nutrition of those elements. Large Blacks produce a dark pork with a short muscle fiber that is tender, and with the addition of micro-marbling, it makes for an exceptional pork.

We will be registering our breeding pair with both the Large Black Hog Breeders Association and the Large Black Pig Breeders United and working to create the best pigs that we can. As I mentioned before, we will only register our very best stock, and hope that we can find shows close to us that will allow us to show our stock and get an even better idea of what we should be breeding towards. Who knows where the future will take us and our pigs, but for now, we are hog farmers, and we are pretty proud of it!

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