Sunday, May 1, 2011

Survival and Raising Pigs

Pork is a favorite southern food. It's high in protein, it's versatile, and it's delicious. Raising pigs is a great idea for survival, if you have the room. Of course, raising pigs doesn’t require as much room as raising cattle, but it’s not like you can keep a pig or two in your city apartment. If you live in a rural area, or even in a non-rural area where it’s legal to keep livestock, you won’t need a lot of room for keeping pigs.
What do Pigs Require?
Pigs require what most animals require: food, shelter, and water. Pigs do better on a diet of quality pig feed, but in a survival situation, they can also turn acorns, roots, kitchen scraps, and garden refuse into high quality, protein-rich pork. A word of caution: Never feed pigs meat scraps or any food that has been in contact with meat, as it could spread dangerous diseases. Kitchen scraps that are safe to feed to pigs include trimmings from fruits and vegetables, stale bread, leftover cooked vegetables, rice, corn, potatoes, etc., as long as they contain no meat and didn’t come in contact with foods containing or seasoned with meat.
Pigs also need shelter. Because they don’t sweat, pigs need a cool place to escape hot weather. They’ll also need a warm place to stay in very cold weather.
Pigs need plenty of cool, clean water to stay healthy. They should have access to this water at all times.
Piglets or sows?
If you decide to raise pigs for survival and independence, you’ll need to decide whether you want to buy some small piglets to “grow out,” or whether you’ll want to buy gilts or sows that will reproduce. Both methods have their own advantages and disadvantages.
If you choose to grow out a few young pigs, you won’t have to deal with breeding and farrowing. In essence, you’ll get a headstart on raising pigs. The downside is that you’ll usually end up paying more.
If you buy gilts or sows, they’ll have to be bred to give birth to a litter of piglets, obviously. This means either keeping a boar yourself or paying a boar owner for breeding services. Sometimes you might be able to find gilts or sows that have already been bred.
By keeping your own gilts and sows, you can quickly increase the size of your herd. A female pig can give birth to as many as 18 or 19 piglets, although the average is more like 8-12.
Uses for Pork
It takes only a few months for a pig to go from newborn to large enough to butcher, which is another reason raising pigs is a good long-term survival strategy. The pork can be used fresh, or it can be smoked or cured. In fact, the entire pig can be used for human food. “Scraps” can be made into sausage, the fat can be rendered into lard, and the fatback can be used to season food or fried into pork rinds. Even the feet can be used! Many folks pickle them in a vinegar solution.

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