Our pigs are a mix of Landrace, Duroc, and Yorkshire breeds. We get them from a farmer friend in New Hampshire whom we’ve known for many years. Last year, we got three pigs which we raised, slaughtered, and butchered; this year, we have gotten four so far, and will get another two or four before the year’s end. The last two we get will be kept over the winter and bred so that we can start to have our very own applewood farm piglets.
This particular blend of breeds has a wonderful temperament, has the quintessential “pig” look (think Charlotte), and puts on weight quickly. We were encouraged to raise our first round of pigs to 200 pounds. After 200 pounds, we were told, the meat is where it will stay and only fat is added from that point on.
One might question, “What could possibly be wrong with adding fat to a pig?” to which my husband Dave might answer, “Absolutely nothing.” I, however, have spent decades working in restaurants watching folks cut the beautiful fat away from their meat only to leave it in a pile along the edge of their plate to be discarded once returned to the kitchen. Many people talk a good game, but very few actually want excess fat on their plate when the dinner bell rings.
It was our intention to finish our first three pigs (Bacon, Hammy, and Pork Chop) as close to 200 pounds as possible. Since they were our first, we weighed them every two weeks. This served to not only allow us to monitor their progress, but also to train us to recognize a “ready” pig versus one that is still in need of fattening. Despite our best efforts, the 200 mark came and went in the blink of an eye and by “pig day,” the skinniest pig weighed in at 253 pounds. Oops.
While these fatty, fatty pigs were delicious, we felt that we ought to try a bit harder to hit the mark on our second go-round. Since we are only finishing one pig at a time this year, we only need to track one pig’s progress. We weighed Pig two weeks ago and he was roughly 135 pounds. When we weighed him this morning, he was at 207. We will be finishing Pig this coming Sunday, June 30th, and he will likely be close to 250 pounds at that point. Ah well…
But how does one weigh a pig anyway? Obviously, when dealing with a creature that matches your own weight, and then surpasses it, and then doubles it, there is no getting it to stand on the bathroom scale. Weighing a pig is actually a semi-simple process of measuring a pig’s length (tip of the snout to end of the butt, not including the tail) and a pig’s girth (around the pig’s body from underneath the armpits, and plugging those numbers in to this formula:
length x girth x girth ÷ 400 = weight
We repeat this process with the girth.
So, when we measured Pig this morning and he was 54.5″ long and 39″ around, we calculated his weight to be just slightly over 207.
Luckily, we are getting better at determining their general weight visually because while Pig is a good sport about being measured, Other Pig will have absolutely nothing to do with that nonsense. His finishing day is still three weeks away, but he seems only slightly smaller than Pig.
As you can see, it’s a pretty interactive process. With an unwilling pig, it could be either high comedy or a dangerous proposition. We’ll likely just give Other Pig’s weight our best guess and go from there…