Breeds + Feeds Make the Difference
We raise the Tamworth hog, a very old breed originating from Ireland. In the 1600′s, a herd of them were taken by Sir Robert Peel to Tamworth England, where many of the breed improvements were made. In 1882, Thomas Bennett of Rossville Illinois brought the first Tamworths to the United States, and further propagated the breed here. For decades, backyard hog operations featured the Tamworth because of its suitability for outdoor living, natural disease resistance, and calm temperament.
The Tamworth is distinctly a “bacon-type” hog, with a lean, long body conformation. Its belly is lean and meaty, with a lean to fat ratio of about 60:40. Its fat is firm, but has a silky texture with a clean finish. The meat is said to have a ‘unique’ flavor; rich and earthy-sweet.
A huge part of what dictates meat quality (taste, texture, juiciness) is what the animal has eaten. On our farm, our hogs are fed grain from a local mill and culled organic produce from Albert’s Organics. Additionally, the pastures the hogs live on offer them a diverse selection of forages, acorns, and hickory nuts. This diverse diet, coupled with clean water and fresh air, create a healthy animal that yields flavorful, juicy meat.
In order to let the pork’s flavor “deepen”, we process our hogs when they are a little older (seven to eight months), and a little larger (about 300 pounds) than mass-produced swine. This allows intramuscular fat and flavor to develop, resulting in tender, succulent meat regardless of the cut.
Stress on the animal also plays a part in determining meat quality. We do our utmost to ensure that all of our animals lead a happy, healthy life wherein they can obey their natural instincts. At the processor, we ensure they have a “resting period” of at least 4-12 hours between their arrival at the facility and their slaughter. We work closely with the staff there to ensure the animals are handled humanely and gently.