What makes for a happy hog? Being able to experience life in ways congruent with their natural behaviors. Naturally grown hogs are raised outdoors on pasture, free to roam, wallow, and root.
When pasture-raised, hogs use trees to keep their skin healthy by removing parasites, and wallows for rolling around in. Wallows are especially important because hogs do not have sweat glands, with the exception of their snout disc. So, to keep cool they create wallows, or muddy sinks in the ground, to roll around in and cool off their skin from the heat of the day. When raised outdoors, hogs engage in another natural instinct and behavior called rooting. One of the their most basic behaviors, hogs use their snouts to dig around in the soil looking for grubs and other edibles. Roaming, wallowing, and rooting hogs translate into happy and healthy animals.
At Firsthand Foods, we’re dedicated to supporting farmers who raise healthy animals that are encouraged to follow their instincts and engage in their natural behaviors. We source our hogs from the North Carolina Natural Hog Growers Association, a network of farmers raising their hogs outdoors, on pasture, with special attention paid to humane husbandry and animal welfare. The farmer network was formed in 2007 by a dedicated group of hog farmers who wanted to build a market for high-quality pork products. For them, high quality entailed Animal Welfare Approved certification, the nation’s highest welfare standard.
We work closely with the Co-Op to ensure a consistent supply of high-quality pork every week. We provide feedback to each producer about their carcass quality so they can adjust and improve their production practices Every year we visit each farm to see their operation firsthand (ha!), hear their stories, and meet the hogs. There is no question in our minds that the pork chops, sausages, and bacon that we all enjoy, are made all the more delicious because of the care and attention that our hog farmers put into raising their animals.