Pigs are fun to raise, but do require some TLC. They are smart and very friendly, social critters that don’t do well living in isolation. Their meat is wonderful, as different from supermarket pork as store-bought tomatoes are from the homegrown kind. But their cute, often endearing ways can cause problems when raising them for meat. Put off butchering them and they get too fat and can be hard to handle.

They need shelter and bedding (straw works well), a fenced-in area where they can root, till and forage, (if you have enough room to rotational-graze them, so much the better), plenty of water and good organic feed. Be sure they have a place to wallow, which helps them control their temperature and contributes to their well-being. Keep their pens and bedding clean, dumping the dirty straw and manure on your compost pile. They shouldn’t have health problems but line up a vet, just in case.

Be prepared to butcher the pigs yourself if you don’t have a meat processor nearby, and have a freezer large enough to hold 150+ pounds of the best ham, bacon and chops you’ve ever eaten.

For more on raising pigs, read Laura Childs’ The Joy of Keeping Farm Animals, from Skyhorse Publishing (skyhorsepublishing.com).

This article was originally published in The NEW PIONEER™ Spring 2016 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

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