Frequently Asked Questions
How are your pigs raised?
We raise our pigs outside on pasture the whole time they are on our farm. Since pigs are omnivores, they eat a wide range of plants, insects and grubs. When in the wild, pigs will forage in both forest and pasture throughout the day, and range to find fresh, healthy ground. On our farm we mimic this pattern with electric fencing -- we create a paddock with both forest and pasture areas which we move every few days to give the pigs fresh, healthy ground. The fence allows us to control pig impacts to a certain area, while allowing the rest of the farm to recover and grow. The fence creates a barrier for the pigs, but they typically have fresh and varied terrain (a mix of pasture & forest), which keeps them content. As long as the pigs have good food and water, shelter from extremes, and plenty to explore, they tend to stay happy inside of the fencing.
We’ve settled on this system because we think it is the best for the pigs and for quality of the meat. Because they exercise and eat well, their fat is more evenly distributed, and the flavor of the meat reflects the diverse diet and the health of the pig.
What do the pigs eat?
Our pigs eat a varied diet composed of what they forage for in the woods and on pasture, fruits, vegetables, nuts, as well as a locally grown & milled non-GMO feed mix from Mosaic Farms in Philomath. The feed mix gives the pigs a base level of calories and nutrition. We use the “free choice” method, which allows the pig to choose between feed or foraging, and allows us to leverage their nutritional instincts while also making sure their food needs are always met.
What breed of pigs do you raise?
We raise Gloucestershire Old Spot (GOS)--a heritage breed from England. Gloucestershire Old Spots are excellent foragers and grazers and can live outside year round. We selected this breed because of their hardiness, and because we knew we wanted to raise pigs only on pasture -- since it is more humane, healthier for the pigs, and translates into higher quality meat. Additionally, Gloucestershire Old Spots are known for being docile, and interacting well with people and other animals. We hope you will come visit to see for yourself!
How are the shares priced and how do you get to the total cost?
We’re producing the highest quality pork (heritage breed, pasture-raised) but try to keep the price down by selling direct to consumers and by selling in bulk. We price each share based on the hanging weight of the pig, which is the weight of the pig after slaughter (the pig minus the blood, viscera, etc.). The total cost of a share is the cost of the pig itself (based on the hanging weight of the pig), plus the slaughter and butchery costs.
The table below gives a rough estimate of the total cost of each pig share. This is difficult to predict because of variation in the weight of each pig (up to 50 lbs), and variation in the processing costs: specialty cuts (like smoked sausages or bacon) add more to the final cost.
Additionally, one difference to note on the table below, is the cost of our regular option vs the cost of our "Newport Pickup" option. The Newport option is cheaper because it allows us to do on-farm slaughter -- this is better for the pigs and requires less driving for us (& the pigs!) but also requires the customer to take on more work (picking the meat up at the butcher and coordinating with the butcher on cut sheets). We tried to reflect the benefits/shared workload of this approach in the price. This shared approach allows us to work with customers who live out near the coast (or are willing to drive for a bargain) and to work with customers who are outside of our immediate area. There is more detail about on-farm slaughter and Oregon state food laws below.
*The take home yield assumes folks take 1/2 of the oddments
**Additionally, these take home cost/lb numbers can fluctuate around 15% up or down based on if you take none or all of the oddments. We’ve used an average here to help folks compare simply to grocery stores, because we think it’s helpful, but it’s admittedly imperfect. Happy to talk in more detail, if you’d like to get into the weeds.
How much volume do you get with each Pig Share?
The following are estimates for how many cubic feet each share size will take up. These are on the conservative side, so if you budget to have this much space available in your freezer, you should be good. For reference, a milk crate is about 1 cubic foot.
Quarter: 1.5 cubic feet
Half: 3.5 cubic feet
Whole: 7 cubic feet
When do I need to pay for the pig?
We’d like you to put down a deposit when you know you’d like a share -- this reserves your pig share and helps us plan for the year. We will work with you on cut sheets (which detail how you’d like your meat cut & processed) during the spring and summer, and we’ll need to have your finalized sheet by the end of August. The pigs will then go to processing in October. We will reach out shortly after that when we have the final weight and cost of your share, and then we can settle up when you receive your share in November.
How will I get my share?
We will plan on having a common pick-up areas in Portland, Seattle, and in a few other cities/towns where we have multiple orders--we will send more info as we get closer. For folks in more remote areas or those who can’t make it to our pick-up dates, we can work to schedule a delivery to your location. If you have a question about your specific location, send us an email at email@example.com and we can work with you to find a solution.
Will my meat be frozen or fresh?
You'll receive your pork frozen. All of the meat will be flash frozen after processing, as this is the best way to ensure that it stays fresh. This way you can easily store your pork and defrost it when you're ready to cook. We will package your pork in sizes that are convenient for you to defrost and cook (for instance, 2 chops per package).
How long will pork last in the freezer?
The general rule is the sooner you eat the pork the better, but it should be good for 6-9 months in the freezer. Many folks report eating pork that’s over a year old and is still delicious--but, the longer it is in the freezer, the more susceptible it is to freezer burn or developing off-flavors if the seal is punctured or damaged over time.
Where will you deliver to?
In 2020, we plan to have pick-up locations or delivery options in:
Oregon: Portland, Eugene, Yachats/Newport
*If you’re not in these areas let’s talk before you deposit and we’ll see if we can make it work.
Who slaughters and butchers your meat?
We work with the excellent butchers at Revel Meat Co. in Canby and Coastal Cutters in South Beach/Newport to process our pigs. Both Revel Meat Co and Coastal Cutters are committed to humanely handling and slaughtering our pigs, to producing the highest quality meat, and to contributing to a more sustainable food system.
Revel is a small, USDA inspected processing facility located in Canby, OR. There’s an excellent three-part series about the history behind Revel Meat Co, and the current owners, Ben Meyer and Jimmy Serlin (who used to run Old Salt Marketplace in Portland) at Good Stuff NW if you’d like to learn more. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
We are also excited to work with our local butcher shop, Coastal Cutters, in Newport, who are a state licensed and inspected "Custom Exempt" processor. They do on-farm slaughter, which is the best process for the pigs. More information below on what working with each butcher entails.
What is the difference between USDA and Mobile Slaughter/Custom Exempt? Why do you work with both?
USDA (Revel Meat Co): At a high level, meat that is slaughtered and processed in a federally inspected USDA facility can be sold in any form to restaurants, stores, and consumers as cuts or as whole animals. In Oregon, there are a very limited number of USDA inspected meat processing facilities that work with small farms like ours.
Custom Exempt (Coastal Cutters): Oregon law has made provisions for small farms/people to process their own animals in state licensed/inspected facilities: known as "custom exempt" processing. Essentially this says that a farm can sell live shares of an animal to customers, who then can work with a custom exempt facility for slaughter/processing -- this is known as "on the hoof" or "live animal" sales.
Custom Exempt/On the hoof is a slightly more complicated process -- it involves the farm selling shares of a live animal to a customer, the customer communicating directly with the butcher to select cuts, and the customer ultimately picking up the finished meat at the butcher when it is ready. The biggest benefit to custom exempt is that it allows for mobile slaughter, which is not allowed by the USDA. Mobile slaughter happens on the farm (the pigs are then transported back to the processing facility by the butcher). On-farm slaughter is the best process for the pig, since the slaughter occurs quickly in a place the pigs are comfortable with, without the need to transport the pigs in a trailer (which they don't like). This OSU FAQ Sheet covers many of the important elements of custom exempt and mobile slaughter.
We chose to work with both a USDA and custom exempt facility so that we could offer something different to two sets of customers. For customers who are far from Yachats or restaurants, we wanted to work with Revel Meat (USDA), who were terrific in 2019. For local customers, we wanted to work with Coastal Cutters at a discounted price, because it is better for the pigs, and because the customer does more of the work themselves (by communicating their cuts to the butcher directly, and by picking up the finished product). For our personal pig, we will use Coastal Cutters and mobile slaughter, and we'll get primarily larger cuts, planning to do some of our own processing at home (pancetta and homemade sausage!).
Just as a final note, both butchers are very good at what they do and both are very kind to the animals. We felt like this approach allows us to prioritize giving our pigs the best possible death, while also allowing access to customers outside of our immediate area. If you'd like to talk in more detail, give us a call and we're happy to talk through any element of this.
What do I have to do if I select the "Newport Pickup Option"?
We will sell you a half or whole share of a live animal, for which you'll pay a deposit. We will then put you in contact with your butcher: Coastal Cutters in Newport, who will ask you to fill out a cut sheet with your desired cuts -- we're happy to talk with you about your cut sheets if you need someone to bounce ideas off of, but you'll need to fill out the cut sheet directly with the butcher.
In October, Coastal Cutter will come to the farm, do the slaughter and will take the pigs back to their facility for processing. They will give us the hanging weight, and at that point you will pay us the remainder of your farm bill (online, check, or cash) based on the hanging weight and we will let coastal cutter know we're square. After processing and curing, Coastal Cutters will contact you and you can pick up your meat at their store in Newport, where you will also pay them the butchers fees. Let us know if you have additional questions and see the table above for butcher/farm cost estimates.
What sort of cuts will I end up with when I receive my share?
The great thing about purchasing a pig share is that we’ll work with you and the butcher to ensure that you get the cuts you want. A typical pig share includes a mix of roasts, chops, ribs, sausage and/or ground pork, ham, hocks, & bones for stocks. After you’ve placed your deposit for the share, we’ll contact you and send over a cut sheet for you to fill out with how you’d like to have your meat cut. We’re happy to talk through your options with you, and to offer suggestions on how to cut the pig for your needs. Examples of what cuts you could receive are detailed on each pig share page (Whole, Half, Quarter).
Will I receive the fat, head, bones, and other offal or “sweet meats”?
Yes--if you’d like to receive that fat, bones, skin, liver, kidney, or the head--please let us know (we’ll ask you this as part of the cut sheet) and we’ll save them for you. If you’d like these items, we’re happy to help you find resources for how to utilize and enjoy as much of the pig as possible!
Can I have my pork “dry cured” or turned into charcuterie?
Making charcuterie (preserving the meat through a process of salt, humidity/temperature controlled environment, and time) takes months to prepare--so unfortunately the butchers at Revel Meat Co can’t do it for you. They do have a delicious wet cure/brine and smoke their bacon and hams (which takes about 2 weeks). If you want charcuterie, one option is to ask for your legs, bellies, jowls, or other cuts you might want to cure fresh and then to cure them yourself, or to take them to a charcuterie specialist (like Proletariat Butchery in Portland) to cure your meats for you. If you’d like to learn more about charcuterie, Portland Meat Collective and Proletariat Butchery both offer charcuterie making classes.
Where can I learn more about pig butchery and what to make with my share?
We highly recommend the classes offered at Portland Meat Collective and the Seattle Meat Collective for providing hands-on butchery, charcuterie, and sausage making instruction. The whole-hog butchery class shows students how to break down half a pig into cookable cuts and provides advice on how to cook various, and lesser-known pork cuts.
To learn more about sustainable meat production, check out the Good Meat Project.
Can I butcher my own pig?
Yes! If you are interested in receiving a half pig (or two halves) to butcher yourself, we can have the butcher split the pig for you to take home to do your own butchery. This is also the most economical way to buy a pig share, since a lot of the cost of a share goes into butchering & processing the meat. If you'd like to do this with a half or whole pig, the cost is the price of the pig share + the slaughter cost + $15 to split the pig in half. Please give us a call or email us if you're interested and we'll talk it through with you.
Interested in learning more about our system & pig-raising philosophy?
Our system borrows liberally from several farmers, if you’re interested, the following links can give you a little more background. If you’d like to know more about our farm practices send us an email with your questions or to set up a time to visit and we can talk in greater detail.
Allan Savory Ted Talk - A good primer on mob grazing and holistic management, ways we are using pigs to manage invasives and stimulate perennial pastures:
Chuck Talbott Article - We borrow heavily from this system, which is itself modeled after an ancient Spanish method from the Dehesa region of Western Spain, where the famous Jamon Iberico comes from. Our system doesn’t revolve around oaks and acorns, but we’ve adapted some of it to our coastal location.
Joel Salatin Video - This video gives a good look at a system that we’re borrowing heavily from, and at pigs being entertaining ecosystem managers, but all the opinions in it aren’t necessarily ours.
If you have any other questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.