Belly Rub Bacon is heritage breed, pastured pork raised on organic feed, plenty of grass, treats from the garden, and whatever bugs, grubs, and roots a happy pig with its snout in the ground can find!
This year our pigs are crosses of a Berkshire x Gloucester Old Spot boar and a Berkshire x York sow from Sunset Creek Farms outside St. Cloud. These breeds are known for their ability to thrive on pasture. They spend their entire lives outdoors where they are happily able to express their full pig nature, namely munching on grass, rooting in dirt, wallowing in the mud, and napping in a pig pile. The herd is rotated through paddocks of fresh forage, with a diverse planting of cover crops following movement to the next pasture.
Their omnivorous pastured diet is supplemented with feed from southern Minnesota organic grain farmers. Feed varies depending on availability but primarily consists of small grains such as field peas, oats, barley, alfalfa and wheat in addition to occasional corn.
After experimenting with Mangalitsa crossed pigs last year, we decided to return to raising Berkshire crosses due to customer feedback and our own taste tests! Both are delicious but it's our opinion that Berkshire bacon is simply the best, and the pork chops, hams, and steaks are a beautifully dark red, juicy meat unlike anything you will find in a grocery store.
Welfare, health, and humane handling of the pigs is valued above all -- and yes, the pigs get belly rubs!
Our sheep were sourced from breeding stock developed by Janet McNally at Tamarack Lamb and Wool down the road in Hinckley. Janet is an long-time sheep grazer who thoughtfully bred Dorset and Ile de France sheep and selected only hearty ewes that performed well in a grass-only, pasture lambing system (meaning no barn, just like nature). These are meat breeds producing a medium sized, tender, delicious lamb.
Our brave livestock guardian dogs were also bred and raised by Janet and are crosses of Maremma, Spanish Mastiff, and Polish Tatra. They are as important to our sheep operation as the sheep themselves, as we are in an area with plenty of coyote and wolf predation. The dogs allow us to farm alongside thriving wildlife, and display impressive bonding behavior with their flock.
We are thrilled to have Janet, a published and well-known grazing expert, just down the road to help us establish our flock and breed healthy animals in a healthy pasture ecosystem.