PETE's Fine Swine
We raise a variety of heritage-breed pigs, mostly Berkshire and Duroc crosses. Heritage pigs are older breeds that were developed when pigs weren't "the other white meat." They aren't raised commercially because they aren't as lean as newer, commercial breeds and they don't grow as fast. They marble more fat into their meat which gives them much more flavor and juiciness.
When the pigs have reached a weight of about 250-300 pounds (usually at about 6 months of age,) they are ready to butcher. We use a professional on-farm butcher who comes to our farm, and kills the pigs in their pen. It's a very low-stress process. After dressing them, he then takes the carcasses via refrigerated truck to the processor.
We get the pigs after they've been fully weaned - at six to eight weeks old. They're usually 40 to 50 pounds at that age, robust, healthy and ready to be on their own. After 2-3 weeks for them to learn the electric fence and get comfortable in an outdoor starter pen, they are let out to their permanent large pen. Generally, they have about 1 acre per 10 pigs. We free-feed locally-grown grain, but there's also plenty of grass, roots, and other vegetation to eat as well as bugs, worms, and depending on the season, walnuts, acorns, dropped pears and apples, left-behind garden vegetables, harvest left-overs such as corn, pumpkins, etc. We use hay for bedding, and they eat plenty of that as well. Pigs are omnivores and opportunists when in the wild. They'll eat whatever is available. The wide variety of food fulfills their nutritional requirements, more closely resembles their natural diet and also helps to give the meat a much richer flavor. Even the collateral dirt they eat is good for them: it's full of minerals.
Pigs are very social and extremely curious animals. By giving them plenty of room, they're able to act like pigs and interact socially in natural ways. They also have plenty of things to satisfy their curious nature. Rocks, sticks, a new trough, a bale of straw are all just about as interesting to a pig as interesting gets. They explore, root for food, dig wallows, carry sticks around, nap when they want, etc. They live a life that is very natural to them.
We work with one local breeder who supplies us with consistent, healthy pigs. By using only one breeder, we essentially have a closed herd which minimizes the chance of bringing new diseases or parasites onto our farm. This helps to minimize the potential need for medication, chemical wormers, etc. While we certainly will treat a sick pig, we don't have to routinely medicate our pigs because they live in conditions that don't create the need for medication. Our pigs are never fed antibiotics or artificial growth promotants. Space, fresh air, and sunshine can do amazing things for an animal's health.