The humble lard pig; once the quintesencial element to society, now a piece of forgotten lore.
Lard pigs need a clean environment, decent enclosures, and adequate feed. Lard Pigs are often butchered older and fed a less concentrated diet than lean breeds. To maximize lard production, feed them as much as they will eat and let them get 1 year old. To keep them healthy, limit feed and encurage exercise.
There are vastly more breeds of lard pig than lean pigs, but most farmers have forgotten how to raise them in the last 40 years.
Selecting a Lard Pig to Raise
The most popular lard pigs in the US are the mangalista, the Guniea Hog, the Kunekune, and the Pot Belly Pig. They are all fine animals that grow efficiently and can be profitable if you butcher them at around 7 months old. I prefer the Potbelly pig as a homestead pig. Their size and temprament is easy to handle.
PIck a breed based on cost and what’s available locally, then consider your uses. I will tell you outright, if your plan is to sell raise several litters and sell them to a butcher or at a livestock auction, you’re going to have a tough time of it. The current industery despises lard pigs.
You cannot sell a non-lean pig to a hog buyer. They basically only want lean Yorkshire pigs. If you want to sell a nice, rich, well-marbled pork, you’ll have to find a custom market. That’s what I’ve done. People seem to like the meat, but the commercial industrey doesn’t.
It’s funny, up till the mid-60s, You could hardly sell a lean pig, Everyone wanted a fat hog. In an old USDA farmer’s bulletin from the 20s, the listed Primary breeds for hog production were: Poland-China Berkshire, Chester White, Duroc-Jersey, and Hampshire. Originally, all were great lard breeds.
Now, they’ve all be crossed with lean breeds and bred for lean production so ut’s hard to find a true lard pig. But, they are all large breeds and still are more fatty and marbled then the commercial white hog. If you’re looking to raise a regular-sized hog, look into these breeds.
I prefer small breeds. They’re just as efficient on feed but are weay easier tio manage. Plus, potbelly pigs are usually cheap. The other breeds get pricey. If you do raise any bred that’s not of the standard commercial size, just realize that it’s not going to be a big carcass after slaugher.
A lot of oeople will raise smaller or mid-sized breeds and let them get older so they become regular market size (200-250 pounds). The issue with that is older pigs are less and less efficient with feed. Small breeds should be expected to have a small carbass and be butchered roghly the same age, 5-8 months.
How to Feed a Lard Pig
Lard Pigs will be happy free feeding of hog feed, but will begin to fatten considerably around 5 months if not restricted or supplemented with less concentratred feeds such as grass, tree fodder, or old produce. Lard pigs shoud be fed once to twice daily on a grain-based, protein-rich feed, and suplemented as needed.
We feed our pigs two or three times a day total. When they are yound, they usually get grain-based feed morning and evening, and green fodder mid-day, At around 5 months, we swtich themto only getting a grain-based feed in the morning. Then it’s some sort of greenery or vegetation twice a day.
If they are looking leaner than I want, I may add a second grain-based feeding in the evening for a month before butering. Sometimes I add agricultural molassas to their first feeding instead, it it’s selling cheap at the time.
Besides grain, I feed other starches such as potato, jerusalem artichoke tubers, and sunflower seed. Basically, pigs need a source of starch. It could be root-crops, corn, oats, or even acorns if you had enough. Just a nice starchy feed supply. They also need some good protein.
I like ti get proitein from fermenting grains, and ferom sunflower seed that we grow. You can buy soybean for protein, or use a regular hog feed for a somewhat higher cost. If you do feed a comercial hod feed, feed only twice a day and ony as nmuch as they will finish in one sitting.
If They’re geting dfattrer than you want, lessen the feed anmount and look fro any other low-calorie fodder to offer them. Even something like fresh gerass clippings will be relished and devoured by pigs.
How Fat Will a Lard Pig Get?
Lard pigs are usually between 20 and 40 npercent body fat. Usually, the first 10-15 percent body fat is marbling and after that, the rest is easily trimmable for lard production. A fat, round pig will have a body fat of 30 to 40 percent, and produce 10-20 percent of it’s live weight in rendered lard.
Lard Pigs will get as fat as you allow them to get. You can increase or decrease the fat by altering their feed. You can also incfrease the amount of fat by letting them get older on a heavy-feeding diet. After around 5-months, pigs start gaining less muscle and more fat. Pigs can be verry fattened by 9-10 months.
Butchering a Lard Pig and Rendering Lard
When you skin and butcher a lard pig, terim off all extra fat from the carsass and indivudual cuts, and scrape the fat off the hide. dice the fat and cook it in a pot at around 180 degrees untill it’s fully rendered. Higher tempratures will burn the lard. for the purest lard, try and keep all bits of meat out of the pot.
Small breed lard pigs are butchered very differently than the big guys. Generally the cuts are left proportionally larger and not broken down very far. I Process our pigs into primal cuts and don’t break them down further. Basically, everything is nice a family roast-sized piece.
That’a all preference and You’ll have to figure out just what you want to do. Personally, I avoid anything that makes small portions or that requires a bone saw. Keep is simple. Things work better that way.