Heritage Pork: Why I'm raising (and selling) Berkshire pork

Updated: Mar 4



If you spend much time around ranchers and farmers, you'll soon discover they are each passionate about what they raise. This is especially true when you begin to converse with breeders. These are the guys and gals who are carefully examining their critters for strengths and weakness, they spend a lot of time with these animals and care about health, vigor and personality - this isn't a six month long relationship, but a long term commitment. The breeder thinks of the animal as more than just a "mortgage lifter" and from a business perspective the animals become the bread and butter of their business. I've met many an old pig farmer who is both proud and fond of the stock they produce, and the way they talk about their gilts' legs and butt might make you blush. Breeders are concerned about genetics and are experts in the strengths and weaknesses of the breed or breeds of which they develop stock (animals). Breeders equally concern themselves with you - the consumer- as they think about which animals will yield the most flavorful and healthy meat.


Before you think I'm going to drone on and on about my pigs: be assured - I'm too new at this hog raising business to talk for hours about my hogs, but be warned the time may come. Raising animals is downright fun.



So back to the question at hand. Why hogs? Do you know they stink? You know my dad used to raise hogs, but he got out of the pig business many years ago. Mainly because the smell sticks with you. My brother and I raised 4H hogs but bought our weenier pigs from a neighbor farmer. I loved those pigs; they have such great personality. They won me no purple ribbons, but I did learn something about grit and perseverance which is why, I suppose, I was adamant our girls join 4H. The many lessons certainly outweigh the stench. In preparation for getting our girls into 4H, we started feeding out our own spring pigs about six year ago. I paid little attention to where our feeders came from or their breed. But then, I tasted Berkshire pork and everything changed.



You may have heard of Berkshire pork; it’s on the menu of many famous, five-star restaurants such as Spago’s in Beverley Hills and Thomas Keller’s French Laundry. Berkshire pork is often referred to as Kurobuta – meaning black pig in Japanese. Berkshire Pork is the most highly sought after pork in the world. Berkshire pork looks and tastes like no other pork meat. Unlike commodity pork or “The Other White Meat”, Berkshire pork is visibly different. It has a darker, richer color with an abundance of intramuscular marbling- comparable to prime beef. Its flavor is distinctive with an unparalleled tenderness for pork.

Berkshire pork is a heritage breed of pig, which was developed and raised over 300 years ago in Berkshire County in the United Kingdom as a meat suitable for the King himself. And with good cause: Berkshire pork is renowned for its richness, texture, marbling, juiciness, tenderness and overall depth of flavor. It is thought by many to be the “Kobe beef”of pork as it is said to have a very specific taste, not generic and bland like regular pork.



At Farm Kid & Co, our Berkshire sows are bred only twice a year, and they farrow in larger pens that protect the piglets from extreme weather conditions, but still allow freedom of movement. The ranching methods and beliefs we use, from grazing rotations to slaughter, preserve and protect the land we live on and respect the animals we raise from birth until their "one bad day" sacrificing for the food on our plates.


As far as certifications go, we believe in actions, not labels. Our products reflect our beliefs in respecting our animals, raising them with the utmost care and comfort and in feeding our customers only what we feed our family - the highest quality meats raised as naturally and humanely as possible. In addition to grazing their pastures, our pigs eat a feed that is grown and milled on our farm in Columbia Falls, Montana and is made of peas, barley, wheat, and oats. They are also supplemented with our hay, produce and scraps.



Our pigs are very friendly and are antibiotic and vaccine free. All of our animals are raised natural. Farm Kid & Co. DOES NOT use antibiotics to promote growth, or to control or mask disease as with sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics in feed. Nor do our animals receive added growth hormones. All of our animals are raised naturally

Our pork is available for bulk meat purchase by the whole or half, and you are able to fill out a custom cut sheet so you get exactly the cuts you want. Our heritage hogs are butchered at about 250 pounds, yielding a hanging weight of about 150-215 pounds. You can expect about 70-75% of the hanging weight back in meat. Or meat is processed at a State-licensed, locally owned butcher shop.


It seems that there is a crucial link between a pig’s diet and the flavor of the pork. Most industrially raised pigs survive on corn and soybeans, while Berkshire pigs often eat (or should I say ‘dine’) on rich whole grains like oats, wheat, barley and peas, as well as fresh vegetables and fruits. Pigs are unique because the fat that they eat is redistributed into their muscle fiber – Meaning that pigs are, literally, what they eat. So, what a pig is fed is very important to how it tastes.



In fact, research suggests Berkshire pork is genetically predisposed to producing the finest quality pork due to its shorter muscle fibers and lots of marbling, which contributes to both the flavor and the tenderness. They also say that the reason why Berkshire pork is so juicy and tender, is the lack of stress on the animal. Stress causes the meat to be dry and tough. Our family works hard to ensure our Berkshire hogs are raised in a low-stress environment- meaning that they are usually allowed to roam where they want and they have plenty of shade and dirt to keep them cool.




FIVE REASONS TO CHOOSE FARM KID & CO. MEATS

As a family, we work hard to vigilantly care for our animals everyday. There are no shortcuts.

You can experience the difference in the taste of our pastured heritage pork and beef.

Our meat is never treated with hormones or antibiotics, we are GMO-free and organically minded.

We are a multi-generational Montana farm family dedicated to land and animal stewardship.

We strive to bring you the finest meat and the story behind it so you can know and trust where your food comes from.








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