TK Ranch is keenly aware of current factory agricultural methods for raising pigs and we feel they are not humane. Pigs are extremely intelligent, very aware and like to make eye contact with their handlers. They are quick to show their emotions and it is easy to tell when they are both happy and unhappy. After raising pigs for several years on pasture we can’t imagine how unhappy a pig would be if they could not root around in the soil or nap in the warm sunshine.
Our pigs are raised on pasture for their entire lives. This means that our sows, boars, gilts, weaners and finishers are never confined in barns. We use heritage breed pigs – Berkshire, Duroc, Large Black and Tamworth – because they are naturally designed to withstand our colder northern climates. Unlike hairless breeds raised in confinement barns, ours have thick hair coats and lots of fat to protect them from the weather.
We farrow our sows on pasture — we do not use gestation or farrowing crates – and they are never separated from their piglets. We provide our sows with private nest-boxes to give birth (arc huts) that have free access to pasture. We do not needle teeth trim or cut off the tails of our piglets. On TK Ranch our piglets are given lots of room to run and play which prevents them from getting bored and fighting with each other. Unlike conventionally raised piglets that could be weaned as young as 10 days, our piglets stay with their mothers for 8 weeks on pasture before being weaned. At that time they are put into groups of the same age for proper socialization.
In the summer we provide all of our pigs with shelter from the sun and mud wallows – their favourite! When it gets hot outsideour pigs love to get into the water and mud and cool off. In the winter they are given shelter from the wind and cold in large houses we have built from flax straw bales. We then fill these houses with loose straw that the pigs snuggle into to keep warm. They are always given free access to the outdoors so they can enjoy the fresh air and sunshine and natural pig behaviour.
Pigs are omnivores like people – they only have one stomach. This means that they require a varied diet that includes grains to finish properly. They love to eat grass, hay, roots, shoots, apples and vegetables too – but their primary ration is grain based. We feed them wheat, barley, oats, peas, essential oils, vitamins and minerals in a ground ration that is fed daily. We do not feed soy, canola, corn or any GMO products. Due to our management practices our pigs are very healthy and don’t need to be fed antibiotics or treated with chemical insecticides. If you raise pigs the way nature intended these practices are not needed.
All of our pigs are processed in our own facilities on TK Ranch – they are not loaded onto trucks and shipped long distances for processing. They are treated with the utmost respect from birth to processing by our family and small group of dedicated staff.