Heritage pasture pork is an option with so much more to offer! Many do not realize that heritage pork encompasses a wide array of breeds. Each heritage-pastured pork breed brings distinctive characteristics to the table. There are two types of pigs, commonly called “lard” and “bacon” breeds. “Lard” pigs are breeds with a higher fat-to-meat ratio. Whereas “bacon” pigs are breeds with a higher meat-to-fat ratio. Whichever you prefer, the possibilities of breed choices are seemingly endless.
Below you will find a breakdown of the heritage swine breeds we raise. Each breed we raise is here because it recently was or currently is on the endangered list by the Livestock Conservancy. We believe that by creating space in the food system for these endangered breeds, we will be able to increase their numbers and hopefully bring them up to a point where they can be removed from the endangered lists. Eat em’ to Save em’. There are some great blogs on this topic available; check out Eat Em’ and Save Em’ .
Heritage Pasture Pork – Learn More
The Heritage Swine Breeds We Raise:
At Hogs & Horns Homestead, we raise various heritage pigs for pasture pork. These breeds include the Red Wattle, English Large Black, Kunekune, Ossabaw Island Hog, Meishan, Mangalitsa and Hybrid Crosses. We chose these breeds because of their exceptional flavour, great temperaments and conservation status. By farming these truly great breeds, we can offer you and your family a variety of pasture pork, from lard-based breeds to bacon breeds.
Large Black Pig Meat:
This breed has succulent, superb taste and eating quality. Considered a “bacon” breed, as a result, it has a higher meat-to-fat ratio. With their muscle fibres being shorter, this creates a tender and firm texture. Large Black’s meat has some of the best micro-marbling, which makes a juicy quality that people enjoy. As its name suggests, the Large Black is a large breed. You should expect butcher weights of 250+ pounds; this equates to a hanging weight of 175 lbs. This breed is on the conservancy list as critically endangered in the US on the Livestock Conservancy.
Kunekune meat is red and has deep, heavy marbling. Their high diet percentage of pasture and forage attributes to the sweet flavour of their meat. As a “lard” breed pig, their fat marbles throughout and has a cap on each cut. With this gorgeous, delicious fat comes succulent flavour like non-other. Kunekune was almost on the brink of extinction, but selective and careful breeding brought them back.
Ossabaw Island Hog Meat:
The meat from an Ossabaw Island Hog is genuinely unique. Their fat contains fatty acids, increased omega 3’s and unsaturated fat. There is a high amount of oleic acid in their meat and fat, which is what is predominantly found in olives. With that fat nearly turns to liquid and melts at room temperature because of how unsaturated it is. Many believe the Ossabaw Island Hog is most comparable to the famous Iberian Hog.
The lean meat to lard ratio on a Meishan averages 50-50. Packing excellent marbling means flavour and exquisite taste. Since the Meishan carries around 2.5-3 inches of back fat, these pigs are ideal candidates for making lardo, pancetta and guanciale. Having such a high amount of marbling in their exceptionally juicy meat means the Meishan is perfect for cured meats such as salamis, prosciutto and hams, as well as joints and bacon. Japan considers Meishan meat a delicacy, and it regularly appears on menus in top-class restaurants. Like other heritage breeds, Meishans are slow growing but can be taken to the abattoir at around 7-9 months. The Meishan is the ideal breed for you if you have a progressive pallet. Their pork has been the choice of Emperors for 5000 years and is believed to be the oldest domesticated swine breed.
Their meat is considered among the tastiest pork in the world! The Mangalitsa is one of the fattiest pigs in the world, averaging 65-70% of the carcass as fat. Lean meat contributes to 30 – 35% of the carcass. Moreover, this produces reddish meat, high marbling with creamy white fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids. Mangalitsa lard is lighter and much brighter than the lard from other breeds of pigs. In addition, it melts at a lower temperature because of its higher unsaturated fat content. All this extra fat allows their cured pork products to have much longer drying times, creating a more profound flavour without losing moisture.
This breed takes longer to grow to butcher weight since they are such a slow-growing breed. Mangalitsa needs a minimum of 12 months up to 24 months before they’re ready for butcher. Time allows for their highly desired lard to develop.
We offer multiple hybrids for different meat purposes. For example, our Large Black x Kunekune creates a larger version of a Kunekune in shape and temperament, producing a larger pig to process at butcher time. This cross also slightly decreases the fat-to-meat ratio.
Our Goals and Ambitions:
Hogs and Horns Homestead strives to provide clients with a connection to their food, at whatever level you are ready to connect. Our goal is to give our animals the best life they can have, regardless of its length and to allow each customer to experience what farm-to-fork food entails. We understand that connecting to your food for the first time can be challenging and a big learning curve, and we are here to provide education along the way! Each breed of pig we raise is unique and brings its flavour profile to the table. Since we focus on purebreds for the conservation of endangered livestock, this allows us to offer uniquely different heritage meat while increasing numbers and decreasing their chances of extinction!
What’s The Major Difference?
Heritage breeds of pigs take longer to grow out than their commercialized cousins, the pork you see on store shelves. We allow our pigs to naturally forage, enjoy fresh air, free-range in the sunshine, root around and wallow in their mud baths. In doing so, this develops juicy meat with an intense and deeper flavour. Fat on any of the heritage breeds is not the same as what you may be used to from grocery store pork. The slow growth, feed differences and breed type create a succulent, extremely flavourful product. That can be used and enjoyed in several capacities!
How Do They Live?
Hogs & Horns Homestead raises their pasture pigs hormone and steroid free. We are raising our pigs in an outdoor setting and offering pasture and forage, allowing them to live stress-free lives with plenty of exercise, fresh air and sunshine. We do not routinely give antibiotics, and we administer medication only when necessary to save the animals’ lives. We follow all guidelines, and your animal will never have antibiotic residues when processed.
What’s their main diet?
Free-ranging and pasturing on Alberta’s natural prairie grasses and weeds. When pasture is not available, they are offered quality hay. Foraging for bugs and fed a high-quality soy-free complete feed.
How Are They Finished?
We raise and finish all of our pigs on Hogs & Horns Homestead. Each pig is brought to an inspected facility for processing. Our pork is available by the cut, in our meat packs, by the half and whole custom cut. We do have options for primal cut purchases and custom orders. Reach out to us for more info.
“Once you eat HHH Meats you will be sorry you haven’t eaten it all your life. The pork is delicious. It is much different than any I have ever eaten from the store it is better quality. We purchased chickens and they were huge. It was hard to believe that one breast was more than enough for two people.”