My Favorite Ossabaw Island Pig Picture
These are 2 day old piglets after a long day.
My Favorite Ossabaw Island Pig Picture
These are 2 day old piglets after a long day.
This weekend we need to wrangle some pigs around. We have some sows that need to get in with some boars. We have been trying to schedule a couple litters per month. In order to do that, each month we need to rotate sows to be with our boars. I have 2 sows that need to get in with the boar this weekend. In order for that to happen, we need to take 3 sows out.
It is going to be a struggle this year, we are growing our herd and feeding out more than we have in the past. We currently have 5 pens being used just to grow out pigs. We have pigs that range from 25 lbs. up to 230 lbs. We try to keep pigs together and grouped by size. As some of our pigs grow at different rates, we have to keep an eye on the pens and keep moving up the pigs that are growing quicker. If there gets to be too great of a size difference, there will be bullying, and the smaller pigs will not get their share to eat.
We have split up some of our bigger pens in order to divide the feeder pigs according to size. This weekend we are needing to divide another one of our larger pens to make a new pen. I have a size difference starting again and no good option to separate them. So a new pen must be built. As we have been adding new pens,we have been struggling to keep up with building new shelters and water barrels. Soon I am also going to run out of pens that we can split and we will have to start expanding out to new areas. Splitting a pen is a lot cheaper than buying panels to make an entire new pen.
We have designated farrowing pens, boar pens, and grow out pens. Soon we will be getting our farrowing pens ready to have little babies, but for now we are using them to house our breeding groups. I am short one boar pen, which I will need to create before we switch over to farrowing, but I am still not certain how I where I want it to go.
My daughter and I made this hoop shelter for our pigs 5 years ago and it is still in great shape. It is fairly easy to build with just a little elbow grease.
This shelter is built from common materials and goes together easily.
2- 16′ cattle panels cut down to 12′
2- 4’x8′ sheets of untreated plywood
4- 6″x4″x8′ treated posts
4- 1″x3″ untreated boards
1- 10’x12′ tarp
Misc: Screws, Lag bolts, metal plumbers strapping, and fence staples
We started by notching the ends of the treated posts. The notches enabled us to overlap the ends of the posts to be glued and nailed together while still giving us a flat surface all the way around. We notched the posts with a circular saw, we used multiple passes to create slices half way through the post. The slices were then chiseled out and smoothed. Update to our original build- We would at this point in the build add a sealed floor of some sort. Hindsight is always 20/20.
In order to secure the cattle panels in a curved position, we put lag bolts on 2 alternate sides. The lag bolts were put in 2 inches from the outside edge of the posts. We used 6 bolts per side and spaced the bolts evenly along the post. The bolts were left out about 1.5 inches so that the wire panel had a good point of contact.
We wired the to cattle panels together along their length and put one end up against the bolts. The panel was then carefully pulled down so that the opposite end rested inside of the bolts on the other side. We have at that point a base and a hoop. The ends were secured in place with some large fencing staples, and all of the sharp edges of the panel and wires were removed to prevent injury.
The end panels were the next piece of the build to tackle. We held one plywood panel up to the end of the hoop and traced the outline onto the wood. We cut out the curved end piece and secured it to the wire with plumbing strap and screws. The entrance side will have a doorway cut out as well before it is attached. We cut two 1″x3″ boards that ran from top to bottom inside the end pieces. we attached them with screws to give the end pieces more stability. We double checked again for sharp points of screws and made sure to grind them down to prevent future injury.
We covered our hoop buildings with tarps secured with lathe around the bottom edges. This worked great right up to the point when the sows started their nest building phase. They tore huge sections of the tarp off to add to their nest even though they had plenty of straw. We have since corrected this by adding sheet metal strips to the bottom of each side, and we completely covered a few huts and removed the tarp all together.
There is always improvements to be made, and the first version is just a starting point. These are great huts, but by all means not perfect for everyone. Like I mentioned earlier we would have added a floor to these, and when we build more we will add that option. We have had these huts for 5 years and have only needed to replace the tarps. As are farm grows I will need to start building more.
This last weekend we cleaned the chicken coop. . We have a three section coop. Section one is the main coop and it is 10’x15′ and houses the feed and water for the laying flock. Section 2 is 10’x5′ and it houses the roosts and nest boxes for our main flock. Section 3 is a section we use as an extended brooder, rooster pen, and isolated breeding pen. What we clean out gets spread onto our hay field as fertilizer.
We have had last falls hatch of chicks in section 3 for the winter. The little pullets are looking very nice and were ready to mix into the main laying flock. After we cleaned the coop we left the pullets in with the older hens. I figured there would be a ruckus while they all got used to each other but they all blended in nicely. The young pullets did look a little confused, but started to eat well after a short time. The 2 pens were only separated by chicken wire so they were weren’t really strangers.
I am looking forward to the young pullets to start laying soon. There are still 4 young roosters that need to go into the freezer. Hopefully this next weekend we can start to work on that. Fried chicken really sounds good about now!
I need to order some chicks or get some eggs set to incubate. I need to have a clutch of spring chicks so when my fall hens molt, the spring chicks will hopefully carry us through. We are trying to decide which breeds to keep and if we would like to incorporate a new breed. We do not have Buff Orpingtons, and since we both are partial to that breed, we will probably add a few.
I will be ordering a few broiler chicks to raise to sell at the farmers market as well as to put a few our freezer. I have not decided which breed of those to get either. I am trying to decide between the red broiler cross and the Dixie Rainbow type chickens. I do know that the White Cornish cross is definitely not an option. I need to get my chicken tractor cleaned up and ready to roll.
My attempt to create a brand for our farm is in its early stages. We have called ourselves the Burnin R for a long time, but only recently started using it for business. Now that we are getting involved with farmers markets to sell our product, it is time work on our brand.
I was looking for an original logo, one that would not be mistaken when seen. Even though we will be starting out as a local business, we need our customers and future customers to see our logo and know who we are. Old time cattle brands were self explaining to a point, the ranches name was evident within the brand. That is what I am trying to create with our logo.
This is a first rendering of my idea. I have not finalized it, but it gives you an idea of what I am trying to do. I am open for criticism, so leave a comment with what you think.
Another way that we are setting our farm apart from our competition is with our product. We have been raising Ossabaw Island Pigs for several years, and during that time we have been creating a cross that gives us a larger size and retains the awesome flavor and meat quality. This year we are fattening out 30 plus pigs to be sold as individual cuts at the farmers markets. I know for a fact that we will be the only ones that can claim to have this pork.
Most farms try to fatten a hog up as quick as they can. They use the standard feed mix sold at their local feed store which is usually a corn- soybean mix. This ration is great for fattening a hog, but the soy leaves an undesirable flavor and meat quality. We have been raising our pigs solely for meat quality and flavor. So, we have developed a special ration to finish our hogs off. It is a Ration that gives the meat a sweet flavor and firms up the texture a bit. Our pork sells itself, one try is all it takes. The difference is enough for people to seek out our pork.
As the year progresses we will be working on ways to set our brand. We will be getting our brand in front of as many people as we can during this next farmers market season. Hopefully the Burnin R logo will become known as the mark of great pork. Plus we will be introducing new products produced by our farm this year. We are in early trials in producing several gourmet products, once perfected we will be putting them under the Burnin R Brand as well. Stay tuned!!
Do you have your own brand or unique product? If you don’t, how will anyone pick you or your product over others? How do you set your farm or your product apart from everyone else?
Creating an identity that people notice is what all businesses strive to do. Your identity is almost as important as your product. Having an identity or brand will go a long way in the eye of the consumer, just like street credibility. The more often a consumer is in contact with your identity, the better your product seems.
Humans are funny creatures, what we see or hear creates our reality. Our brains collect and store data, some we use immediately, some we use to support later thoughts. If we shop for a product, a product that we have stored thoughts on, is immediately in better standing than one that we have nothing to recall. Stored thoughts can be from seeing the product first hand, or from a friend that has told us about it. Branding creates stored thoughts that can be used to validate and support decisions of consumers.
Humans are also herd animals, we strive to belong. A brand can give you opportunities to give someone a sense of being a part of your business or product. If you put on a baseball cap, what is on it? It will usually have a brand or logo of something that you have an interest in, a sports team, a hunting brand, or a saying of some kind. This is how companies can get placed into your stored data and how they can influence your buying decisions.
Branding is used by companies to represent them. Companies use names, symbols, jingles, styles of writing, and even animals to create their brand. Ranches use a symbol burned into the hide of cattle to represent them and show ownership, these symbols are called brands. Can you see a Clydesdale horse and not think of beer?
As small business owners we should tap into this marketing tool. We should be finding ways to get stored in consumers minds. Product or brand placement is everywhere, stickers on vehicles, t-shirts, coats, hats, signs, billboards, radio spots, commercials, and even tattoos. even with a shoe-string budget, a business should be able to find a way to place their brand in the view or ear of a consumer.
If you are a farmer at a farmer’s market, make sure your tent has your brand or name on it. if you have your meat processed to sell, have the processor put our name on the label. If you drive a vehicle, have your brand or name on a magnetic sign that you can stick to it. Get t-shirts made to wear when you are out shopping, and give them to friends to wear.
There are a thousand ways to get noticed. Even the cheapest ideas can give your business a boost. Get creative and get seen or heard by your future customer.
Winter chores and Spring/Summer chores change with the season. Winter shores include winter hay feeding, running animals up out of the weather, and making sure all water is thawed. Winter time on the farm is hard work.
I am glad to see spring on its way. I look forward to the days when I don’t need to carry an ax to break ice, a knife to cut bale stings, and all the heavy layers of clothes. I stress when its cold, thinking about the welfare of the animals. Do they need more hay, are they staying out of the wind, and is the rain/snow making them cold. The warm rays of sunshine relieves stress in so many ways. One day soon I will lay in the grass and soak some rays up instead of dealing with old man winter!
As the days get longer, I have increased energy to accomplish more and keep up with needed tasks. I feel like I hibernate in winter and stay in a holding pattern until warmer weather comes again. We are starting to ramp up for spring. We will soon have new litters of pigs, new calves, and new opportunities to pursue.
New plans for the farm in 2016:
Become a vendor at several Farmers Markets
Become a Vendor for at least one Community Event
Introduce one more Stream of Income
We are fattening up some more hogs. We have some very nice looking Ossabaw Island Hogs. If you have never tried Ossabaw Island Pork, I suggest you do if you ever get the chance.
Almost all of our Ossabaw Island pork has sold itself. We get orders by customers that were given a sample from a friend, or had been given testimony of their great meat. Although still very rare, they can be found throughout the U.S. It is harder to get started raising Ossabaw Island Hogs for profit because they take longer to grow and have smaller litters. But, if you can stick it out, it is well worth the effort in the long run.