Success With Pigs On Pasture

Thanks to PennState Extension for this story! Mike Yezzi from Flying Pigs Farm shared his pastured pig production system at this year’s Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture conference. After Mike and his wife, Jen Small, bought their farm in 2000, they drove out to a local breeder to buy piglets with a handmade wire cage in the back of their station wagon. "How many do you want?" the breeder asked. "Ten," said Mike. "One," said his wife, both at the same time. "I'll give you three," was the breeder's response. In 2001, they switched to heritage breeds. They raised seven Duroc and seven Large Black that year. Soon, they were growing rapidly from 57 rare breed pigs in 2002 to 520 last year. The strong local foods movement is a key to their success. Consumers want "humanely treated, no/minimal antibiotics, no hormones, no animal parts in the feed," Mike told us. But they also focus on raising a high quality product. "Folks at the farmers' market might be willing to sacrifice taste a little," Mike told us, "but the restaurants will not." Flying Pigs Farm currently raises over 500 Large Blacks, Gloucestershire Old Spots, and Tamworths each year. During the spring, summer and fall, the pigs are housed in one acre paddocks that have access to the woods for shade and to pasture for rooting and grazing. Mike is careful not to leave them too long in any one paddock, but, in general, the rejuvenating power of the grass keeps the land strong and healthy. In t

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