01. the pigs
All of the pigs at Valley Piggery are heritage-breed crosses – primarily Berkshire and Duroc, with some Gloucester Old Spot, Tamworth, and Hampshire in the mix. Valley Piggery fattens it hearty hybrids 2-3 months longer than factory-farmed pork, in order to develop the rich, marbled meat for which the heritage breeds are known. Our pigs wouldn’t qualify for the pork-packing industry’s erstwhile “other white meat” ad campaign. Rather, our pork is a deep rosy pink, and often more red in color. More aptly, we like to think of our pork as the “other red meat”.
02. the farmer
Eventually a dazzling verbal portrait of the VP team will reside here. Patience, little piggy . . .
03. the land
Valley Piggery raises pigs in pastures and woodlands as they should be – in environments that nurture their need to root and forage.
We partner with local ranchers and farmers in the Santa Ynez Valley to employ underutilized portions of their land. In turn, the rooting and wallowing acts as a more natural form of aeration or tilling, turning the soil, encouraging fertility, and keeping invasive non-native weeds and fire hazardous brush to a minimum.
The piggery location is always dynamic, and sometimes in two places at once. Great efforts are taken to minimize the impact the pigs have on the land – achieved by closely controlling paddock and pasture management.
The pigs are currently employed in an English walnut grove just outside of Los Olivos, where they are tasked with cleaning up the walnuts left over from the autumn harvest. They are in groups of 5 to 6, in 32’ by 48’ paddocks, and are moved to a new paddock every 8 to 12 days.
We allow the pigs to exhaust the forage in a given area and aerate the soil, yet we are mindful to minimize their impact on the grove by moving them swiftly on to their next paddock.
04. the feed + forage
The pigs at Valley Piggery are given plenty of opportunity to forage and root, and in their current environment they spend a large part of the day hunting for walnuts. Their diet also consists of other seasonal supplements such as sorghum seed, pumpkins, tri-color corn, and cucumbers.
Valley Piggery also collects fresh vegetable scraps from the professional kitchens of local restaurants and institutional cooking facilities, closing the circle of our food chain here in the Valley.
For the pig’s daily ration of feed, Valley Piggery uses King Brand Freedom GMO-Free Natural Livestock Pellets. King Brand is based in King City, and this feed is also a corn- and soy-free feed. The first seven ingredients are ground wheat, whole oats, ground barley, wheat millrun, rice bran, peanut meal & hulls, and ground lima beans.
saying goodbye, and hello again
When the time comes, I take my pigs to the J and G Lau Meat Processing Center at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo for a humane harvest. I'll provide you a more detailed description of the process here soon, but in the meantime you can learn more about the center here.