Here in Iowa, over 90% of hogs are raised in confinement buildings where they spend their life on steel and concrete and almost never see the light of day. Hogs that are raised in these modern confinement style operations are fed a diet of corn, soybeans, vitamins, minerals and antibiotics. Yep, that's right. Antibiotics.
They are commonly fed to swine raised in confinement operations.at low concentrations for long periods of time in order to maintain heath and promote growth. Sounds crazy, I know. We never give our hogs sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotics. Antibiotics are rarely used on our farm except when necessary to save a pig's life. So why on earth would anyone give antibiotics to animals that aren't sick? The answer is simple. Hogs raised in the totally unnatural setting of a confinement building would frequently be ill without them. The confinement system of raising hogs doesn't work without sub-therapeutic antibiotics.
|A "modern" hog confinement building just a few miles from our farm stands in sharp contrast to the method of hog farming we utilize at Wickham Farm.|
And as if this isn't bad enough, many modern confinement hogs are also fed a growth promoting drug called ractopamine (paylean). Ractopamine is known to increase the rate of weight gain, improve feed efficiency, and increase carcass leanness in finishing swine. One source said that it could make the farmer an additional $5-$10 per head. Sounds like a hog farmer's dream come true doesn't it? But there is a dark side to Ractopamine. Ractopamine has been be linked to cancer. It has been banned in 160 countries including the European Union, mainland China and Russia yet it is still used extensively here in the U.S. Does this make any sense? Not to me it doesn't!
Like hog confinement operations, we feed our hogs a diet that includes corn, soybeans vitamins and minerals. But that is where the similarity ends. Rather than confine our pigs to a climate controlled building, we allow ours access to pasture.Yep, that's right. Pasture where they graze on grass, clover and weeds. The young pigs run and play and the older ones root in the dirt searching for tasty morsels of plant roots and worms. In essence, living outdoors on pasture allows our pigs to do what a pig is suppose to do. It allows our pigs to be pigs.
Our hogs diets are supplemented with things like pumpkins, squash, apples, pears and other fruit and vegetables that are gleaned from our garden and nearby farms. We have found that hogs that are raised and fed this way makes for some extra sweet, delicious pork. So what kind of pork do you want to eat?
|Proffesional pumpkin chucker!|
|One of many loads of squash and pumpkins destine for pig feed.|
Special thanks to our friends at Indian Hills Orchard, Gravert's Apple Basket, Papa's Pumpkin Patch and the Joel Wood family for their contributions to our pigs' diet. The pigs thank you too!