We raise Mulefoot and Hereford hogs. Mulefoots are listed Critical on the breed conservancy list, and Herefords have been moved to Watch.
Our non-GMO hogs are raised year round on pasture, acorns, and roots.
The Mulefoot Hog is an American breed that descended from the hogs that the Spanish brought to Florida and the Gulf Coast in the 1500s. The most distinctive feature of the Mulefoot hog is the solid hoof, which resembles that of a mule. It was bred to have a solid hoof rather than the typical cloven hoof to eliminate the threat of foot rot, thus making it suitable for wet areas. In the 1800s there was a huge demand for hogs to help fuel westward expansion.
“Southern swine, descended from Spanish hogs, were still expected to “root, hog or die.” Southern farmers continued to earmark rugged, semi-wild swine, turn them out to root in the forest and then round them up again when butchering time drew near. Hog slaughtering was a time for celebration, when families ate fresh pork for perhaps the first time that year. They cured the rest of the animal for later dining and nothing of a pig was wasted. But yesterday’s hogs did more than furnish hams and bacon; Families rendered hog fat, and there was plenty of it, into lard—and lard was a staple of life; folks spread their breads with tasty lard. Due to its high saturated-fat content, lard didn’t smoke when used for frying and it lent its distinct, pleasant flavor to all manner of cooked foods.
Piecrusts and biscuits created with lard were flakier and more toothsome than baked goods made with butter. It was the cook’s best friend! Lard, lye and water were cooked together to make lye soap. People used lye soap to wash their faces and hair, and their floors and laundry. They made lard-based healing ointments by blending in roots and herbs, and used lard to tame unruly hair. How could folks exist without it?
Besides that, fenced-in hogs “rototilled” and fertilized the family garden plot during the winter months; they rid the barn of pesky rodents; and even served on snake patrol. A tame sow or two tethered in the yard or allowed to roam the home place kept the local rattlesnake and copperhead populations under control. ” (Excerpt taken from Hobby Farms)
The Mulefoot hogs have a soft solid black coat with white points occurring occasionally. The hogs have medium flop ears and a fairly gentle disposition. They fatten quite easily and a mature hog weighs in at the 500-600 pound range. Because of the high fat content, this breed is particularly good for high quality ham.
The Mulefoot peaked in popularity about a century ago with breeders found in most Midwestern and some southern states. But as the amount of area for foraging decreased and the practice of feeding hogs in pens increased, the breed fell out of favor since other breeds of hogs grew faster in that type of situation. It came to a point where there was only one remaining breeder, R.M. Holliday of Missouri. Holliday’s strong and consistent production selection has maintained a generally uniform and characteristic herd.
The Mulefoot is the most rare of American swine breeds. Because of its endangered status, historical value, and superior flavor, conservation is essential.
Herefords are adaptable and thrive both in outdoor operations and under confinement systems. They also do well in a wide variety of climates. The hogs are known for their quiet and docile dispositions, making them an excellent choice for young people. The breed is appropriate for 4-H projects because it combines market conformation with a strikingly attractive appearance.
Breeders have emphasized early maturation, and Hereford hogs weigh 200 – 250 pounds by five to six months of age. Herefords are easy to pasture but also grain efficient, reaching market weight on less feed than many other breeds. Mature boars weigh about 800 pounds and mature sows about 600 pounds. The sows produce and wean large litters. They make excellent mothers, closely attentive to their bright red and white piglets.
The Hereford began to decline in numbers during the 1960s with the shift away from the commercial use of purebred hogs and toward a three way cross of the Duroc, Hampshire, and Yorkshire breeds. Today, the breed population is estimated at fewer than 2,000 pigs in the United States, most of them found in the upper Midwest and Plains states. The characteristics of the Hereford, however, make it a natural choice for a variety of small scale production systems. If the breed is given opportunity under such systems, it will be able to earn its place in the future.
(From the Livestock Conservancy)