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Raising Pigs on Pasture

By   /  July 29, 2013  /  1 Comment

In response to reader requests for information on raising pasture pigs, here is an interview with Karma Glos of Kingbird Farm in Berkshire, NY. These four, beautifully done videos on pastured pigs were created as part of the Cornell Small Farms Video Mentor series as a resource to small and beginning farmers. We love how Karma takes us from farrowing to processing highlighting the things that make life better for the pigs, and easier and more profitable for the farmer.

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PigletsKarma Glos and her husband Michael were both wildlife biologists in Washington state when they decided to move back to Michael’s home state to begin farming.  With their daughter, Rosie, they’ve spent the last 13 years creating a diversified livestock operation that works for them, the land they farm, and their local market.  Thanks to intense management, their 20 acres produces about 300 meat birds, 300 laying hens, 50 turkeys, 5 or 6 meat steers, and several litters of Tamworth pigs each year.

Breeding and Farrowing Pastured Pigs

In this first, 9 minute video, Karma describes how they chose the Tamworth pig for their farm, and what they look for in a breeding sow.  She describes breeding – picking the right sows and boars and the challenges of maintaining good genetics in a small herd, and feeding during gestation and after farrowing to make farrowing easy and ensure healthy piglets that can be weaned in just 8 weeks.  Throughout she shares pointers on how they make raising pastured pigs easy to manage and profitable for their farm.  Looking at her example, you might think of ways to adjust for your own needs.

Finishing Pigs on Pasture

Kingbird Farms sells all but about 2 litters of their piglets to people wanting their own feeder pigs, or to farms that need breeding stock.  In this video, Karma describes how they raise their two litters of pigs on pasture.  She has great tips on how to train pigs to electric fencing and keeping them cool during the hot summer months so they will continue eating and growing.  To provide for stress-free loading and hauling for both the pigs and the humans, Karma describes how they feed their pigs in their hauling trailer for the last week before processing.  When it’s time to go, Michael feeds them in the morning, then closes the door behind them and drives to the butcher.  We’re sure you’ll appreciate this visit to Kingbird Farm!

This 4-part series also includes 2 short videos; one on castration and one on ear notching.  Karma’s thoughtful explanations of both processes cover her why she decided on doing these procedures, and how she makes sure they are as stress-free and painless as possible.

Want to Learn More About Kingbird Farm?  Visit their website or like them on Facebook.  Karma has also written two books on layer health and management that you can download or purchase from her website:

Remedies for Health Problems of the Organic Laying Flock:  A Compendium and Workbook of Management, Nutritional, Herbal and Homeopathic Remedies

NOFA Guides Set:  Humane and Healthy Poutry Production:  A Manual for Organic Growers

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About the author

editor and contributor

Rachel's interest in sustainable agriculture and grazing has deep roots in the soil. She's been following that passion around the world, working on an ancient Nabatean farm in the Negev, and with farmers in West Africa's Niger. After returning to the US, Rachel received her M.S. and Ph.D. in agronomy and soil science from the University of Maryland. For her doctoral research, Rachel spent 3 years working with Maryland dairy farmers using management intensive grazing. She then began her work with grass farmers, a source of joy and a journey of discovery.

1 Comment

  1. Tom Thompson says:

    Very interested in purchasing some of your stock for breeding on my farm.
    I am located on grand island ,NY 14072.
    Cost and availability.
    Regards,
    Tom

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