As I have just got the pigs back on Nunnery Farm after probably 2 years I am sort of starting from scratch again myself and so I will post each step as I go along which may be of help to anyone thinking about getting some pigs and producing their own pork. This Label will include every step from deciding where they would live to the final collection of the meat from the butchers - so anything in between that I do with the pigs I will post for you.
The beginning of the smallholding journey begins when you make the decision to get your pigs. I will only ever rear outdoor free range British rare breed pigs. The main reason for this is that as well as it being an enjoyable experience you will be producing your pork the old fashioned way, the way nature intended. Traditional breeds such as TAMWORTH - SADDLEBACK - BERKSHIRE - GLOUCESTER OLD SPOT - LARGE BLACK - MIDDLE WHITE AND OXFORD SANDY AND BLACK reflect our rich heritage and strong reputation for outstanding pork.
So you have to decide which breed is for you this time, I like to change breeds from batch to batch others stick always to one breed. I think your decision with rare breeds depends on what breed is available at the time and the distance involved - pigs are terrible travellers. Rare breed means that your particular breed is not available just now. The British Pig Association is a good start for breeders but there are lots of websites where you can get hold of a couple of weaners relatively easily. The cost should be around £30 each for a 9 week old weaner. The cost for a rare breed that can be registered and possibly shown will rise dramatically from that price up to maybe £70. As you are buying purely to fatten it doesn't matter to you whether it will be show quality. It also doesn't really matter whether you choose a boar or a gilt - just never get one by itself. Pigs are very social creatures.
Phone your local authority and speak to the animal health department. Tell them you are to embark on a smallholding journey and tell them what animals you will be keeping. They will give you a HOLDING NUMBER - this is personal to your smallholding. They will then give you a Pig Number which again is only for any pigs that are reared on your smallholding. If you had sheep and cows you would get separate flock and herd numbers for each type of animal but the HOLDING NUMBER is the same no matter what animal you are moving. You should get a visit from a local officer who should be more than happy to talk you through the various stages and what is required from you and give you lots of information to read and consider about the adventure ahead.
Next the physical work!