COMMERCIAL HOGS/SWINE/PIGS VS. HERITAGE FARM-RAISED, RANGE PIGS VS. RAINBOW RANCH FARMS
Commercial swine are bred specifically for meat. They are kept in confinement to help prevent disease. They are not ranged, and are kept penned for the purposes of quickly, gaining weight and to prevent the loss of too many calories. Each commercial breed of swine are specifically bred and altered through breed management to produce either loin chops, or pork belly (for bacon), or hams, or shoulder roasts etc.
Rarely will you find a commercial strain/breed of swine that is designed to produce multiple cuts of pork meat.
Commercial swine consume from 8-10/lbs. of commercial/industrialized swine fodder each day. Commercial/industrialized swine fodder will usually consist of commodity grains such as, corn, soy, wheat, barley, oats, flax seeds, and other ingredients for vitamins and minerals. Commercial swine fodder is usually medicated to help prevent intestinal parasites, disease or illness.
Commercial swine farmers spend anywhere from $$45.-$58. on fodder for one hog. The total cost to raise one commercial hog is around $90.00. The average cost to raise a commercial pig is about 48 - 58% of the total cost to raise it!
Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR) or feed conversion efficiency (FCE) is the overall ability of livestock to turn feed and fodder mass into body (muscle) mass. Commercial pig's conversion ratio is usually about 3 - 5.(depending on specific breed)
This will affect the price consumers pay for various pork cuts.
VS. The Majority of Small Family Farms
Heritage swine are old fashioned breeds, and by nature's design are multi-purpose animals. They are natural breeders and do not require artificial insemination. They make good mothers and provide safe nesting for their young. The piglets are encouraged by the mother sow to naturally root in the soil to get much needed iron, naturally, instead of relying upon iron injections at birth. When hogs are grown on outside pastures or open ranges, they require constant management (clean-up, removal of manure, fresh, dry bedding, clean soil, safe and secure housing, strong fencing, access to fresh water 24/7 etc.). When hogs are grown on open ranges, they will burn calories, fight, establish dominance among the herd, they mate, run, play, sunbathe, take mud baths and tend to each other.
Heritage breeds of swine will produce generous amounts of various pork cuts, but often not to the size of commercial breeds. When heritage hogs are grown on open range, the meat will naturally be leaner than that of commercial pork, simply because they are burning more calories. In fact, swine are not supposed to be fatty or overweight. They are intended to have a tight muscular build and be naturally lean. Remember, swine, hogs, pigs forage, hunt and root for food and by nature's design they are a clean-up crew, and NOT VEGETARIANS!
The same as commercial swine, most pasture-based and open range hog farms, (even organic) feed commercial fodder to their hog-herds. The difference may be that the small, family farms will grow hogs outside, instead of inside, provide open range, instead of confinement and be more personally attentive to their herds, which may lead the consumer to believing that the pork was humanely raised. Another difference will be that many small, family, hog farms get FREE garbage fodder from sustainability, recycling centers delivered direct to the farm from food recycling centers (restaurants, buffet, butcher shops, food and packaging facilities, and similar) which helps provide diversified meal options to the swine herds for pennies VS. dollars. In most cases, all swine are vaccinated, and most piglets are started on medicated feed.
Some of the problems associated with dumping large amounts of organic garbage-food waste into free-range hog areas is that the food is already rotting and decomposing, attracting flies and other nuisance insects. Another issue is sanitation. Hogs will sleep and roll around in the food, getting the smell of rotting organics, which attracts problematic invasive insects such as lice, mites, fleas and even unwanted rodents. One of biggest problems is that as the rotting food decomposes, it becomes mush, and loaded with maggots, dung beetles and similar. Hogs move the food around, and because they are in a controlled range, they tend to urinate and defecate on the food that they are eating. This can cause intestinal, parasitic issues as well as various other problems such as swine disease. Eventually these types of practices lead to the use of antibiotics, de-worming, vaccines, unnecessary loss of piglets, death of mother-sows and even soil contamination.