The pigs of College Farm are produced in a complete outdoor system – no gestation crates or confinement is used. The breeds include Yorkshire, Berkshire and English Large Black. We have also used some Duroc and Tamworth and are evaluating how they perform under pasture conditions. The sow herd now farrows twice per year – in the spring, March and April, and fall, September and October. Sows are moved to the farrowing lots with 2-6 sows per lot and given a farrowing hut with plenty of bedding. At two days of age, pigs are ear-notched for identification and the males are castrated. The pigs are weaned at 7-9 weeks of age, put into our weaning lots and fed a ration of Farm-grown corn, soybean meal, and a vitamin/mineral premix produced by the Farm’s feed mill. No prophylactic antibiotics are added to the ration.
The sows are rebred using natural service and artificial insemination. After breeding, sows are put into three groups and moved to gestation pastures. These are temporary pastures using polywire and our movable shelters. The fall-produced pigs are allowed to hog down a standing corn crop and fed a protein/vitamin/mineral supplement. The spring pigs are given access to growing forages such as clover, turnip and fodder rape along with the corn-based, milled ration. The pigs are Animal Welfare Approved and are marketed as pork to the College Dining Services and to Marksbury Farm Market in Lancaster, KY, where they are sold under the Marksbury label.
The Farm has collaborated with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and the University of Kentucky on a project evaluating the potential of heritage hog breeds for artisanal, cured pork products.