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Getting started with Red Wattles

PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2009 7:51 am
by lilsproutsfarm
Hello all! We have decided to join the ranks of those breeding and raising Red Wattle Hogs. We are NOT expert pig farmers. We are actually a family returning to the farm from city life and learning as we go.

Our farm is called "Lil Sprouts Farm" in southern Oregon, outside Medford. The theme of our farm is raising heritage animals as close to life in the wild as possible. We started with chickens and heritage turkeys, free ranging them on our land. Now we'd like to add Red Wattle Pigs.

There are a few questions we are looking for advice with:

1. What is a good makup of a first breeding group? We'd like to start small to get things going. Is 1 male and 1 female a good start?

2. What recommendations are there on housing this breed? Summers are very hot here, often in the 100's during summer and 20's during winter with snow. How much space per pig or family is recommended? We currently have 2 pig pens used for other breeds that are about 16x48 ft each with a small lean to for shade.

3. How much sun is too much? Summer days are often full bright sunshine, and other breeds burn badly if not kept inside. Are Red Wattles also prone to sunburn ?

4. What we used for feed for our first pig (hampshire mix) was table sraps, garden scraps, occasional pasture, and commercial pig food. Is this a decent approach for Red Wattles?

5. Is it necessary to castrate male piglets? We would really prefer not to castrate, and have found much evidence pointing to certain breeds not being prone to pig taint anyway. We also read evidence that taint is not a problem if you butcher the males by 6 months. Is this true with Wattles?

6. Any advice on where and when to locate a breeding family to start with?

Thanks so much for any advice!

Re: Getting started with Red Wattles

PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2009 8:28 am
by lilsproutsfarm
One thing I forgot to mention...

our land other than the pig pens mentioned in the post is about 7 acres of horse pasture. We closed the perimeter with roll field fencing and tposts. There are NO trees at all within the pasture. We were considering planting some fruit trees in a corner of it and put a divider fence in to create a 2-3 acre ftuir tree / pig pasture. Does this make sense?

Re: Getting started with Red Wattles

PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2009 3:08 pm
by earlyriser62

We're going to weigh in on your questions. Just remember the answers we give you are based on our experience with RW's. We are in the midwest.

1. Most folks start our with a boar and 2 gilts as a breeding group. That being said, if you have never had pigs we would recommend you start with a barrow to be raised for your own household meat. RW's are amazingly gentle hogs, but hogs are for everyone. Start small.

2. Housing: summers here are hot and humid. We supply each breeding group with a shade structure and a nice wallow in their pasture. Remember pigs cannot sweat so mud serves to help them cool down and to keep flies and other biting insects away from their skin. Besides watching a bunch of hogs go "snorkling" in the pool is just plane funny. :lol: Sows that farrow in summer are provided with a hut, some hay for a nest and we put a portable panel fence around them and their litter for the first 3 weeks.
In winter, RW's that don't have piglets stay in the field. We move large round bales around the shade structure to create insulated walls and provide material for the hogs to make a nice dry nest. Sows that will farrow in the winter we move to the barn when their time is close. We can provide a draft free stall and a heat lamp for each one.

3.RW are dark skinned and not inclined to burn, but again remember pigs do not sweat be sure to provide shade and a wallow so they do not overheat.

4. We feed table-garden scraps to our hogs and we have a special feed mix ground by our local mill. You will find as many opinions on feed as there are RW breeders. The thing is to remember to get enough calcium in the mix. These are big pigs and they need to grow strong bones. Fertrell makes a good natural well balanced hog feed supplement. Commercial feed is fine if you are uncomfortable mixing your own or don't have a custom mill close.

5. We are currently running an experiment with not castrating. We have one intact male in the current group of feeders. He'll go to the processor in November. I'll let you know what we find. We have heard of several other RW breeders that have butchered intact males at all different ages. The key seems to be to have them on pasture not in confinement.

6. Go to the breeders list on to find a breeder near you.

Pigs & Orchards: You can run your hogs in your orchard for short periods to clean up fruit drop, but we wouldn't recommend using it as a perpetual pasture unless you are willing to ring your hogs. We don't like rings. We think pigs should be allowed to be pigs and pigs ROOT! They need the nutrients that they get from the soil.

You may want to consider joining the Red Wattle Association so that you'll get the quarterly newsletter full of RW stuff,DYI projects and interviews with RW breeders.

We hope all this helps. If you have more questions or just want to talk RW's feel free to call us: 812-521-1063

Brian & Dot Jordan
Kiss My Grass Farm