At Willow City Farm, raising our own hogs was something we did not begin until a few years into farming. We didn't know much about hogs, and learning everything you can about the care and husbandry of a species is a very time consuming endeavor. Sooo...
During the winter months, we purchase our hay and alfalfa from a local farm in Petersburg, Illinois. The hay is raised without pesticides or chemical fertilizers. This was important to us, and, as farmers do, we "got to talking". We found that he sells all-natural pork to a company that distributes to high-end stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. He always raised a few extra, and agreed to help to Willow City Farm with our heritage hogs!
In 2016, we began raising our own hogs with our mentor's supervision! In the fall of 2017 we will begin breeding our own hogs too, but for now we purchase weaned feeder piglets from Staff, and raise them on our farm using non-gmo feed.
Our practices are humane, natural, sustainable, and fall under strict protocols:
Our hogs come from a cross of heritage breeds including Duroc, Chester White and Berkshire. This combination provides ideal characteristics to raise the hogs the traditional way, such as:
Exceptional mothering for their young, which provides a nurturing environment.
A natural hardiness for outdoor pasture-raising – their natural habitat.
Extraordinary marbling, which contributes to juicy, tender pork.
Highlights of the Pork Program:
Heritage breeds raised with traditional, sustainable farming methods
Raised outside on pasture or in deeply bedded pens
Only fed a 100% vegetarian diet
Gestation crates or farrowing crates are NEVER used
We never give them hormones or antibiotics – EVER, keeping both our hogs and your family happy
We also believe the environment in which our hogs are raised is incredibly important. Our animals are raised outdoors where they are able to express their natural instinctive behaviors, like rooting and roaming.
We are proud of our pork program – superior genetics, high quality diet and strict raising protocols result in the unbelievably tender, juicy pork that chefs and home cooks love.
We do sell pork by the piece, and it is now available for pickup at Willow
City Farm. Please click here for pricing & availability, or download our
pork price list .pdf here.
We are currently taking deposits for half and whole pigs again. The price
is $2.90 lb hanging weight plus processing.
The cut order is customized to your liking, and hogs are processed a
few times a month!
How Does it work?
You can use any processor you like, and we have recommendations and
price comparison sheets for your convenience. We recommend
Jones Meat and Locker in Jacksonville, IL, Magros in Springfield, IL or
Cass Meats in Virginia, IL.
Although it may sound daunting to buy a whole or half pig, it's actually a
simple process. In fact, it is actually more convenient for you and your
family to have an in-house pork selection than trying to pick up packages
of feed lot meat weekly from the grocery store. The best part is you get
to work with the local farmer to make sure the butcher delivers you the
exact cuts of meat you want and will use most! You can expect between
60-75 pounds (for a 1/2 hog) of great tasting, pasture-raised,
USDA-butchered pork going in your family freezer.
What exactly is a half a pig (a side of pork)?
This is a rough estimate, as each pig is a little different but this is a “typical” 1/2 hog:
14# - Pork loin chops or roasts – you can choose thickness and packaging (chop are typically 1” thick and 2 chops/pack).
3# - Spare Ribs –See our many recipes on Pinterest
9# - Ground Pork - you can select sausage links or bulk sausage- plain ground pork, Italian or breakfast in 1 lb packages
15# - Ham – can select size of hams and/or can have some ham slices packaged -brined or sent for smoking
9# - Belly– uncured or sent for smoking and sliced as bacon - just as you like it!
14# - Pork Shoulder Roasts - best for pulled pork, OR cure it and slice it for Cottage Bacon
5# - Stew Bones and ham hocks– excellent for soups and stews and also a favorite for dogs
6# - Fat – you can render this into lard to use in the kitchen
75# - Total pounds of perfectly wrapped, vacuum-sealed cuts in your freezer
How much space will all this take? (In other words, how big is 1/2 a Hog?)
To help you estimate how much meat to expect, half a pig will typically fit inside a large cooler.
At your house, you need only have a small chest freezer, which is
MORE than large enough to accommodate 1/2 a hog. All cuts
together are about two to four cubic-feet depending on how you
decide to arrange your pork. A whole hog will typically fit into a
5.3 cu ft freezer.
How long will 1/2 a hog last?
Generally - two adults that eat pork with any frequency over the
course of a year will easily consume 1/2 a pig. Expect it to last
6-8 months for a family of 5.
You can view lots of recipes for pastured pork on our blog here, or
view individual cut prices that are available for pick-up daily from
Willow City Farm on Koke Mill Road here.