Thursday, August 25, 2016

Our Boar, Oreo - Part 1

We bought Oreo from our friend Mike at Vesterbrook Farm in Clarksville, MO, when he was about 5 months old and raised him until he was just over 2 1/2 years old.  We never "cut" (castrated) him.  Once he's been cut, he would be forever changed and there is no turning back.  Then instead of being called a boar,  he would be referred to as a *barrow or a *stag.

Oreo at about 5 months of age when he came to our farm.

People say that if you don't take away his "manliness", he will be mean and aggressive.  And that can be a scary thing!

For one, we didn't really think about castrating him when he was young and if we did, we wouldn't be able to have piglets any time soon.  We had two *sows/*gilts that we were looking to breed with him that were the same age and that we also purchased from Mike.
And then many months later, when he grew so big, we knew that castrating him was something that we didn't want to put him through. 

Oreo was a very tame boar, although we knew to keep at least one eye on him when we were around him especially when he was out of the electric fence just roaming around.  

His favorite place to relax.

He loved to have his back scratched and when he did, his long body would swing back and forth as he stood still.  It was funny to see him enjoy having so much attention.

Oreo lived out on pasture in an electric fence and we rarely, if ever, had to worry about him getting out on his own.  He was rotated to new pasture on a regular basis during his whole life.  He ate mostly Non-GMO feed, food scraps, grass, weeds, nuts, roots, and toward the end of his life, we started to feed him just a little bit of regular conventional corn - but not because we wanted too.   

"What do you mean, regular conventional corn?"  You ask.

Well........................regular conventional corn is just feed corn that we would purchase at the local feed stores.

There is so much controversy out there about GMO's and Non-GMO's that I can't even begin to touch on it.  But here is an article if you're interested in getting a quick lesson.

We stopped feeding our pigs Non-GMO feed only because we would have to drive about 4 hours one way to pick up feed and bring it back.  On one trip we would haul almost 1500 lbs. back at a time.  

And who was the first person to say that a pig had to eat grain anyway?

When the corn goes in one end and out the other and it doesn't look any different, who are we kidding?  It seems like a big waste of money to me anyway.  

Driving over 8 hours round trip just got to be too much driving for us, so we had to resort to conventional feed that we could pick up locally.

"Did you ask at the local feed stores if you could purchase Non-GMO feed?"  Yes, I did.  They would have been my first choice to support them, but they couldn't get it.  And at first, they didn't even know what it was either.  Neither did the company who they purchased their grain from.

So see, all you farmers and ranchers out there, we still have a lot of educating that we need to do.

  Oreo's ration of daily conventional grain/corn was pretty much just a snack because he had to share it with all the other pigs that were in the same paddock, so in reality, he didn't get that much of it:  thankfully.

About 3 weeks before Oreo went to the butcher, he didn't eat any grain at all, only grass and a few kitchen scraps.  And did he miss the grain/corn feed?  Um, not really.  He never acted like he was missing something.  He seemed happy to just eat whatever vegetation he could find.

Our view of Oreo from the kitchen window.

When it was time to get serious about what we were going to do with Oreo, we started to ask more direct questions.  And the question that got the most heated response from people was whether Oreo was castrated or not.

I think it would be interesting to have a friendly debate over this topic, don't you?  But then again, would it remain, friendly?  I can't say for sure.  That's how passionate this topic seems to be.

"You won't be able to eat him!" 

 "He'll taste so bad that you'll have to just feed him to the dogs!" 

"He'll have Boar taint!" 

"You won't be able to be in the house when he's cooking, he'll stink!"

 And then on the flip side, "Just turn him into sausage and he'll be amazing!" 

"Have you ever had wild boar?  It's amazing!" 

Over and over, the same type of response came from so many different people, so who were we supposed to believe?

Even when I was doing research on the web, I would come across the same type of responses.


What were we to do?  

We had 2 years into him and now he wasn't going to be any good?!?  

How depressing!!

Well, the only thing that we could do at this time, was to just take the chance:  butcher him, and see what happens.

And that's exactly what we did.

Worse case scenario, we would have dog food for a very long time. 

Even more depressing!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Oreo, on his way to the butcher.

I wanted us to do the whole butchering process ourselves, but we didn't have a hoist that was strong enough to hold Oreo up while we did the beginning steps.  

So we took him to the butcher, who, killed him with a .22 LR (which kills him instantly), hoisted him up, bled him out, skinned him, gutted him, split him in half, and then hung him in the cooler where he would hang for just over a week.  After that time, we would go and get him and finish the job ourselves.

Cooper and I were able to watch the whole process, except for the killing (although we heard the shot).  And I have to say that we were both very happy with the whole process, so far.  

Oreo's last steps.

Oreo lived an amazing life and his life ended the say way.

barrow:  a male castrated before puberty
stag:  a male pig castrated later in life
sow:  breeding female, or a female after her first litter 
gilt:  a young female pig not yet mated, or not yet *farrowed
farrowedgive birth

Part 2:  On the Way to the Butcher 
Coming soon.

August 2016

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