Ever since I saw this little video clip on the news, I’ve been thinking about how pigs, cute though they may be, can contribute to survival in a hands-down, SHTF situation. This is a cute little pig, but let’s not kid ourselves – eventually it will turn into a really big piece of meat on the hoof.
I am not a pig person. I am not saying anything bad about people who are, but I rarely (actually, never) think of having a pig for a pet, even though they are reputed to make very good pets. I usually eat ham once a year around Easter-time when they are less expensive, and bacon – well, despite the fact I’m a low-carber, one piece every month or so is plenty for me! (Cue a collective gasp from all my bacon-loving friends!)
However, there is some advantage to having your food source on the hoof, so to speak, especially when you can feed it its native diet so it will provide you with the best quality of meat, so let’s explore a little bit about raising pigs as a food source. A happy pig will provide the best meat, so let’s see what it takes to make a pig happy.
Pigs are omnivores – like humans, they’ll eat pretty much anything, and often they’ll eat things humans won’t touch. However, if you are raising pigs for meat, you might not want to feed them just any old thing. Pigs love to eat, so divide their food up into at least two servings per day, to give them something to do, and while you will want the pig to have a nice coating of fat, you don’t want them to be overfat, either. So, consider corn, grains, fruit, vegetables, and (yes!) even yogurt, but any kitchen garbage you feed them should be re-cooked. This will ensure that your pig doesn’t pick up infections from contaminated foods. As a general rule, pigs will eat anything, but they do better with vegetable and fiber sources.
When you raise pigs as a food source (and we are definitely not talking about pets here) you need to create a secure outside shelter that will keep them cool-ish in the summer and warm enough in the winter. They needs lots of shade and freely flowing water – as much water as they want. Your shelter should be strong enough to keep a 300-500 pound animal confined, but be sure you give them enough room to roam and exercise. I mention the weight, because building a shelter for an animal that size, that is also a very smart animal, can be a challenge.
As I mentioned, pigs are very smart. They love people and other animals, and as long as they feel comfortable and unthreatened, they are quite docile. When your piglet first arrives, it is likely to be frightened of you; however, after time and conditioning, she will relax and tame down considerably, especially if you spend a bit of time being around her. The quicker you learn her food preferences, as well, the sooner she will tame down, too. She will quickly notice when you approach her with her favorite foods, and much happy squealing and grunting will ensue. Pigs love their treats and they also enjoy having their heads, backs, ears – almost anything – scratched. Keep in mind, though, that this pig is intended for food, and don’t get yourself too involved in her life, especially if you have children. That will make it much harder when you arrive at….
The inevitable end:
Pigs should be slaughtered during the fall, when the weather is cool, especially if you do it at home. This is, obviously, what you are likely to be doing in a grid-down situation. The best temperature is in the 40-50 degree range, to slow any tendency to spoilage while not subjecting the meat to freezing. That carcass will need to be hung for a minimum of 24 hours in order to ensure that all body heat has gone.
This is not a tutorial on how to slaughter a pig, so I will refer you to an informative article on Wikipedia that might help.
The dinner table (and breakfast! And lunch!)
There is certainly no shortage of recipes for pork. Pork is a featured item on many breakfast, lunch and dinner tables. Just be sure to follow the main food safety consideration, though: be sure to cook the pork to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit before removing it from the heat source. Trichinosis is an unpleasant parasite to become infected with, even though it’s rare these days, so be sure to cook your pork well, just in case.
It’s a good idea, as with all things survival, to practice in advance! If you intend to raise pigs as a food source, you probably need to get cracking on it, because there’s a lot to learn. Not only is it fun, but you will be a step further along in preparing for any unpleasantness that may arrive in the future.
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