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ianeccleston

Hog straight from the farm

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For finding sources I sometimes use Craigslist, in the Farm and Garden section. You may have better luck using the list for a smaller city outside the main CHI area, though. Even here in Oklahoma I see more hogs for sale in Tulsa than in OKC. Also, you're a bit out of season, there may not be many available for a few months yet, and those that are available may be last year's rejects :smile:. Another possibility is to find a processor you want to use first, and ask them if they can put you in touch with a farmer.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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A few great options are Slagel Family Farm, Wettstein Organic Farm, Swan Creek Heirloom Farm and Becker Lane Organic Farm. They're all near enough to Chicago and offer stellar product, which is served at fine restaurants -- like Vie, Mado, The Bristol, Prairie Grass Cafe, The Publican, etc. -- throughout the area. Not sure they all sell retail but if you're looking for a whole hog, they'll probably be willing to work with you.

Good luck,

=R=

Slagel Family Farm

23601 E 600 North Road

Fairbury, IL 61739

815 848-9385

Wettstein Organic Farm

2100 US Highway 150

Carlock, IL 61725

309 376-7291

Swan Creek Heirloom Farm

10531 Wood Rd.

North Adams, MI 49262

517 523-3308

Becker Lane Organic Farm

15346 Becker Lane

Dyersville, IA 52040

563 875-2087‎


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Thanks!

Thanks for the tip re: end of the season. I had planned to wait until the spring to get the pig, but thought I'd start the planning and purchase the deep freezer first.

I'm headed to a hog butchering class at Mado this weekend, should be fun.


Edited by ianeccleston (log)

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You need to clarify in your mind what naturally raised means to you. Does it mean organic and not kept in feeder pens, or non-organic, not kept in feeder pens or whatever?

Most operations are set up to provide a market hog at about 160#'s and any deviation costs the grower money which will be passed on to you. The hog will have to have antibiotics when young and I don't know how you get can around that if you include no antibiotics in your definition of natural.

I would concentrate more on finding a processor unless your class will tell you how to kill, gut and clean a live and kicking hog. A good processor will know the operations in the area and can arrange to obtain the hog for you or put you in touch with the grower.

The grower is then responsible for deliveing the animal to the processor. I would be wary of any grower who tells you they can process on site. When you pick up your pig if it is just killed and gutted, be sure you are prepared to handle over a 100 #'s of fresh killed hog with all the dripping and what not that goes with the animal as well as provide the proper temperature control until processed.

Me, if its not a suckling pig of less than 30 #'s, I just wait for a sale at Sam's Club or where ever they don't have unadulterated pig for sale and purchase. I've butchered whole hogs before and its not a task one takes lightly. Good luck!-Dick

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I'm not in the Chicago area but I do raise a few commercial slaughter hogs every year and with all due respect to budrichard my experience and recommendations are quite different.

The hog will have to have antibiotics when young and I don't know how you get can around that...

This is just not true. While in large confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) for hogs this is generally the case it is not necessarily true for smaller, diversified and/or free range operations like ours and certainly is not true for any organic operation.

Most operations are set up to provide a market hog at about 160#'s

This, again, applies mostly to larger growers. Small and custom grower's often offer much larger hogs. We feed our hogs primarily the whey from our cheese-making operation so we grow some of them out for the whole cheese season. By then they are usually in the 350-400 lb "hot hanging weight" range (killed, head-off, gutted, skinned).

The grower is then responsible for deliveing the animal to the processor.

Who is responsible for transport depends on the arrangement between the buyer and the grower (and sometimes the processor). It's a business transaction and should be treated as such with all parties understanding exactly what is expected/required of them. We do offer transportation to the local slaughter house but often have customers who prefer to have them taken to a different processor (or process them themselves) in which case transport is their responsibility.

When you pick up your pig if it is just killed and gutted, be sure you are prepared to handle over a 100 #'s of fresh killed hog with all the dripping and what not that goes with the animal as well as provide the proper temperature control until processed.

Our local slaughterhouse (USDA inspected) will custom cut any of the animals we bring in at a very reasonable cost. They offer everything from a "kill-and-chill" service (how we and most of our restaurant customers get them done) to hard-chilled (frozen) portion cuts in little white packages - and everything in between. Find a processor who is willing to work with you. Maybe you just need the carcass split to handle it effectively or maybe you'd like it broken down into the normal "primal cuts" to make your life simpler (or just so you can get it into your fridge). The processor should be willing to work with you. Custom butchers also often offer curing and slicing services for your bacon and hams.

My impression from the original post was that Ian ws looking for a local farmer (not necessarily a major hog producer). I'd suggest checking out the Local Harvest and/or the Weston Price Foundation web sites as both can be good resources for finding local food growers. As important as finding your hog is finding a good processor for it so start that search early. Our local shop has a 2-4 month lead time for getting animals in to be processed!

Picture below is me and 1/2 of the 350 lb (hot hanging weight) hog we kept for ourselves this year and I just finished butchering out. Does this guy look like a kid in a candy shop, or what?

10-01-12 hog processing (5).JPG


Edited by xxchef (log)

The Big Cheese

BlackMesaRanch.com

My Blog: "The Kitchen Chronicles"

BMR on FaceBook

"The Flavor of the White Mountains"

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Thanks for the feedback: I'll probably go with Slagel Family Farm or Wettstein Organic Farm. The former delivers to Mado restaurant - killed, eviscerated, etc. I took a butchering class at that restaurant , so hope to be able to remember my lessons when it's time to make porchetta. I buy meat from the Wettsteins' regularly, so might cross-shop a bit.

As for the natural thing, really I'm just looking for a healthy, humanely raised pig. If it gets non-organic feed is lower on my priority list. I just want high-quality meat (nice thick belly, well-marbled meat, good flavor) that's raised in a clean and relatively happy setting, and is as "natural" as possible. Preferably "natural" would entail no antibotics, hormones, organic feed, etc., but the limited exposure to these is more important to me than everything being absolutely "organic."

Cheers,

Ian

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I always love Posts that refute every single item mentioned in a previous Post that are from such a small 'boutique' operation to be so insignificant pertaining to the topic under discussion.

Perhaps, xxchef would like to raise an animal for ianeccleston to practice his newly learned skills. Oops, I forgot, xxchef is NOT in the Chicago area and therfore his information is just about useless to the original Post. If xxchef can not raise a hog for ianeccleston, then I suggest that the suggestions that I Posted still stand and are useful because that is how almost 100% of the hog raising, transportation to market, slaughter are done in this country. Perhaps ianeccleston can pick up the hog from xxchef and transport it himself to market, I think not. The growers have specialized equipment and know how to transport these animals but I assume that xxchef is volunteering to do the transportation himself!

I have seen a few of these 'boutique' and I think really think the word 'boutique' conveys a certain homey feel so I will change that to 'Mom & Pop' operation which really is a better description. These 'Mom & Pop' operations frequently fly below the radar of the regulators and frequently are actually unsafe and actually inhumane in thier overall treatment of the animals. USDA Regulations are there to assure safety of the food supply as much as assure humane treatment of the animals.

BTW a quick Google will yield the USDA definition of the term 'natural' which can actually mean anything as long as the grower defines the term.

The original Poster is faced with a choice. He can use the information I supplied and find a grower that will yield a safe and reasonably sane product, or he can go on a search for a somwewhat mythical grower such as xxchef who may or may not exist in this area. I really don't care at this juncture but I will offer one last comment, a processor that has a waiting time of months doesn't offer me much comfort that they will be ready on the day the animal is brought to them for slaughter.

I have purchased many whole pigs from suckling to market weight, purchased them at 4H County Fair auctions and have a lot of experience. I don't deal with 'Mom & Pop operations as on the whole I find them not as safe, reliable and the final product is not up to the standards set by a good market operation.-Dick


Edited by budrichard (log)

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Geez budrichard I'm sorry if I rubbed you the wrong way. I just wanted to point out to ianeccleston that there were other options than the classic mass-produced, factory farm product the you discussed in your original post. I mean, he's going to all this extra work to avoid just buying his pork in a grocery store or at a butcher shop so I think it is fair to assume that he's looking for a better-than-average quality end product. I think that small-holder (mom & pop) raised hogs , organic-raised hogs, Certified Humanely Raised and Handled hogs, and/or heritage breed hogs might all fit that bill. BTW, I would dispute your assertion that these types of operations are "insignificant" or "mythical".

You're right in that not being in the Chicago area, I can't directly help Ian (posters like ronnie_suburban did that very nicely) but I guess I was actually responding more to your post on a general-interest basis. With almost 600 views of this topic to-date I'd be surprised if all those folks were exclusively looking for Chicago info - it's as likely that "hog straight from the farm" (the topic title) info is the main area of interest.

Please accept my apology if you took my original post personally. I am (quite seriously) in awe of the efficiencies of our country's industrialized food-producing systems that let us bring to market the greatest quantities of meat and produce at the lowest prices (notice I didn't say "cost") in the world. I'm just saying there are viable other options that should be considered and discussed.


The Big Cheese

BlackMesaRanch.com

My Blog: "The Kitchen Chronicles"

BMR on FaceBook

"The Flavor of the White Mountains"

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