Heritage Breed Livestock for Small Farmers: Red Wattle Hogs

A big thank you to the kind folks at Five Ponds Farm in Thomasville, MO, who provided all of the photos of Red Wattle Hogs used in this article.
A big thank you to the kind folks at Five Ponds Farm in Thomasville, MO, who provided all of the photos of Red Wattle Hogs used in this article. | Source
Livestock will be healthier and more content living on a pasture than in a commercial livestock facility.  Photo:  S. Thorn (Oct 2010)
Livestock will be healthier and more content living on a pasture than in a commercial livestock facility. Photo: S. Thorn (Oct 2010)

Heritage Breeds Pigs are Suited for Pasture Farming

Many small farmers are joining a growing trend toward raising heritage breed livestock and poultry. Heritage breeds come from bloodlines that were historically raised on open-pasture farms, before the advent of commercial farming practices. Many of these breeds are in danger of becoming extinct, due to their unsuitability for modern, commodity farming.

Red Wattle Hogs do fine in cold environments as long as they have adequate shelter.
Red Wattle Hogs do fine in cold environments as long as they have adequate shelter. | Source

The Red Wattle Hog is one of several breeds of pig listed as “critical” by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. Like most heritage breed pigs, Red Wattles are known for their excellent foraging abilities and their adaptability to a wide variety of climates, which makes them ideally suited for pasture farming. Farmers who raise Red Wattle Hogs are impressed with their gentle dispositions and ease of handling.

Red Wattle Hogs on Pasture

Compared with raising pigs indoors, raising pigs on pasture results in significantly fewer problems with odor, dust, and waste disposal. Hogs will disperse their waste evenly over the land as they graze, eliminating or decreasing the need for waste management. Also, hogs raised on open pastures have fewer problems with leg and foot problems and fewer respiratory diseases than hogs raised in confinement. Many pasture-based farmers rarely use antibiotics because their hogs are healthier; some farmers completely forgo the use of antibiotics, preferring to let nature take its course.

Other factors to consider when raising Red Wattle Hogs include shelter, shade, fencing and proper layout of facilities to ensure adequate space for farrowing, nursery, and feeding.

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Red Wattle Hogs Really are Red

This distinctive-looking pig is named for its two most noticeable physical characteristics: its red hair and the fleshy skin dangling from behind its jowls, called a “wattle,” that sways when it walks.

Red Wattle Hogs come in several shades of red. Their ears stand up straight except for drooping tips, which give them a rather endearing look. While Red Wattles are a relatively smaller breed of pig, adults can reach a weight of 1000-1200 pounds and are full grown by the age of three.

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Pigs Have Personality

The stereotype of pigs as smelly, mud-covered beasts that grunt and eat garbage is quickly dispelled upon spending some time with them. When pasture-raised in an environment more closely resembling their natural living conditions, pigs are no dirtier than any other livestock. They love water and enjoy a good wash in the summer. Pigs are intelligent and trainable animals and can be as loving and loyal as a dog. They will “talk” to you and let you know with their squeals, grunts, and growls if they are hungry, happy, or content.

The Best Way to Preserve Heritage Breeds? Eat Them!

The best way to help preserve heritage breeds is to buy them. Creating a demand for their meat will help farmers be able to afford to raise heritage breeds. More restaurants, markets, and butchers are consciously selecting heritage breeds, but it is you, the customer, who can help make a difference by requesting them. Next time you visit your local farmer's market, grocer, or restaurant, ask about heritage breeds and you will be doing your part to increase demand for these quality meats and poultry.

Red Wattle Pork is Served at These Fine Restaurants

  • Chef Mario Batali's Del Posto in New York City
  • Silverado's Royal Oak restaurant in Napa, California
  • Chef Kevin Gillespie's Luna restaurant in Spokane, Washington

Gourmet-Quality Pork

The excellent quality of pork produced by Red Wattle Hogs is often observed by gourmet chefs and pork connoisseurs to be somewhat beef-like in its taste and texture. The meat is red and marbled and exceptionally juicy and lean. It is especially valued for its excellent ham. The meat from heritage breed livestock is increasingly becoming the preferred choice for gourmet restaurants who want to provide quality flavor as well as help preserve diversity in our food choices.

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Comments 8 comments

Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

I love stories about pigs and your Hub is a delightful eyeopener. Quite "green" really!..and who can resist those piglets? :)


PrettyPanther profile image

PrettyPanther 5 years ago from Oregon Author

Thank you, Green. I started researching pigs to raise on our farm and took a liking to these.


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

I've never heard of Red Wattle Hogs before! Great Hub.


PrettyPanther profile image

PrettyPanther 5 years ago from Oregon Author

Thank you, Simone. I have a feeling it won't be long until we have a few Red Wattles on the farm!


C.J. Wright 5 years ago

I had a Duroc Red years ago, very similar. I'm enjoying your small farm themed HUBS by the way.


PrettyPanther profile image

PrettyPanther 5 years ago from Oregon Author

Thank you, C. J. They are fun for me to write since I am learning as I go myself. :-)


Krista 5 years ago

Amazing! We just got into farming Tamworth pigs which are also a "red" heritage breed. We enjoy them so far and although they are still little and will be a while before we begin our breeding program with them, we are excited to get started. We have raised your common pig before and successfully, however we researched these heritage breed and are quite excited to help them regain your population. I have never heard of the Red Wattle Hog and I am so glad I came across your hub! Thanks.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona

I can't imagine raising a pig, getting to know the pig, and then killing the pig. I'm not a vegetarian per se. If someone is serving chicken or some kind of meat at a dinner I attend, I'll eat a small portion and not say a word, but I'd rather not eat it -- even if I didn't know the animal or bird personally.

I'm not trying to be critical. I found your hub to be very interesting and enlightening. I look forward to reading more of your hubs.

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