Texas County farmer raises heritage hogs with a natural approach

Ask any livestock producer and most will tell you that they are familiar with Hereford cattle. These red and white faced bovine are a fairly common sight in the Ozarks. Another less known breed of Hereford comes from the swine family; the Hereford hog. Hereford hogs are an attractive red and white heritage breed originally developed in the Show-Me state. Aside from their color pattern, these hogs are also known for their gentle dispositions.
He noted the ratio of pounds of feed fed compared to pounds per gain was a favorable one. “Their feed conversion seems to be really high,” he said. Herefords tend to be typical with other breeds as they reach a butcher weight of 210 to 215 pounds in about 6 months.
Hereford boars, along with most heritage breeds, tend to have fertility rates that run a little lower than some of the commercial breeds. Steven mentioned that boar fertility hasn’t been a problem with his hogs for several years. “Seems like they’re always bred,” he said.
Steven has taken a more natural approach to raising his hogs than do most commercial hog operations. His animals are often out on pasture, weather permitting, and he uses no growth hormones. “The meat seems to be a little more firm, better textured and better tasting meat. You know what’s in there,” he stated. You also know what’s not. Steven mentioned that antibiotics are something he rarely administers.
Hogs are known for being opportunist when it comes to their diet. In the winter months Steven starts feeding them Alfalfa. “They’ll eat hay to an extent. A lot of people don’t know that. They like greens,” he said. Steven also feeds them corn but has had to improvise due to the high price of corn. He buys whole corn from a local supplier and then grinds his own, often with oats and other minerals added.
His commitment to more natural methods and the quality of his pigs has helped Steven find a niche market to sell his animals. All of his pigs are registered with the National Hereford Hog Association and he has had people from North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana and several other states buy his animals.
Steven’s diligence goes beyond just assuring high breed standards for his Herefords. The sows are often given names and the care and maintenance of his pigs is important. Most of his hogs are kept on just 20 acres in Texas County that originally belonged to his grandparents. Even though he has additional land available, Steven prefers to keep his operation small, manageable and natural.


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