FAQ's about our pork production practices

FAQ's about our pork production practices

Did you know Alluvial Farms is one of only two certified Animal Welfare Approved pork farms in Washington State? This is a third party certification offered by the non-profit called A Greener World. They visit with us each year to audit our farm, and have a detailed production plan for our farm on file. Their guidelines include requirements for constant access to pasture during the growing season, and to an outdoor yard in the rainy season in the Pacific Northwest. They have specific square footage requirements for indoor pens and adjacent outdoor yards or pastures. They disallow gestation crates, tail docking, nose ringing and other inhumane practices. 

We get a lot of questions about our pork production practices and thought we could create a blog post to have a place to share the answers to your questions about what you are feeding your family. Please share your questions with us so we can answer them here, and put your mind to rest that you have found your families pork protein source. 

Is your pork certified Organic? No, our pork is not certified Organic. We work with Oregon Tilth to certify their pastures and our hemp and grapes as Organic. In 2022 we switched from mixing and milling our own pig food to working with Conway Feeds to get our pig feed. We buy their "Natural Pig" feed, which contains a certified Organic mineral mix, Organic soy beans for protein, and local wheat and barley. In this case we are able to certify there are no GMO grains or legumes in our pig feed, and we prioritize the local wheat and barley which is important to us as well. Having this flexibility with our pig feed is one of the reasons we are not certifying our pork Organic. The other reason is that raising pigs the way we do - on pastures and in deep bedded barns and paddocks filled with shavings in the winter - they are very susceptible to intestinal parasitism, which can become a serious animal welfare issue if left untreated. The dewormers that we can use to treat this are not listed as Organic approved for butcher pigs. They are ivermectin and fenbendazole. We want to keep this tool in our toolkit for occasional use when pigs are young and weaned from thier mom's as this is a time that they are weakest and most susceptible to this issue. We received a grant from the USDA and have been studying natural pig parasite management for the past three years in partnership with the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania. They have an Organic pork research center there and are leading the nation in science behind Organic pork husbandry. They have helped us learn to monitor our own pigs manure for parasite loads, as well as how to kill parasite eggs in our static aerated pile composting before we spread composted manures back on our paddocks. We do have two vaccines in our pig health protocol. Contrary to what a lot of people may think, these are actually allowed in an Organic pork system. More about vaccines below. 

"We are local Bellinghamer’s and we love your product. We just saw a documentary on the production of PMSG in Argentina and Iceland and it’s subsequent use in pig farming around the world.  I would assume you guys are not using this as it seems counter to you whole farm but wanted to hear it directly.   We are curious if you use PMSG in your breeding process?"

We don’t use any hormones in our pig breeding process. PMSG is a hormone used to increase ovulation before an artificial insemination process. We are a "farrow to finish" pork farm, otherwise known as birth to harvest. We manage a herd of breeding stock made up of one boar (Pappa Ears) and nine to twelve sows. 

"I know this may seem odd however I've been hearing there are going to be MRNA vaccines for pigs. Is that something you guys would do? I want to be clear what I'm feeding my medical challenged children. "

"I do not know of any mRNA vaccines available and approved for pigs currently on the market. The Rhinishield vaccine is a killed vaccine. There are only modified live or killed vaccine available in swine. " 

-Dr. April Schattner, Kulshan Veterinary Services, Alluvial Farms veterinarian

Farmers note: We use two vaccines in our animal health protocol: Rhinishield and Farrowsure. The first is given at seven and 21 days old, and it covers the animals against four respiratory virus issues that pigs are susceptible to. The Farrowsure is a vaccine for our sows, to cover them against a few different viruses that can affect reproduction and cause pregnancies to fail. 

"I had a few questions regarding your pig husbandry and butchery options.
Do you still use your mobile grazing/rooting system?" Yes, we have growers on pasture February - November each year. When they don't have a turn out they always have outdoor access in a large yard filled with wood shavings.  
"What is the best time of year to harvest to receive the most nutritional benefit from your grazing management?"  I think it would take a lot of scientific study to prove any molecular or chemical differences between an animal harvested in the fall and one harvested in the spring. All that said, if you ask for delivery of your share in October your pig will have spent the most time outside under the most sunny conditions. 
"Does your feed ration include any soy, or corn, or gmo ingredients?" Our current feed ration is from Conway Feeds. They call it "natural pig". It has local wheat and barley, certified Organic (aka non GMO) soy beans, and a certified organic mineral mix. 
Not about pork production but a natural progression and segue to our online ordering process: 
"Is it an option to get ‘full’ (no trimming) half bellies  (vs 2 pound pieces) so we can cure & smoke our own bacon?" Yes, it is. When you make a down payment you can also fill out this online form to let us know your desired delivery date and other cutting instructions. I think I took the full 10# belly slab option off of the multiple choice because so few people were ordering it, but sure thing we can still get that for you. There is a notes section at the end where you can write in any requests that you don't see listed in the menus above. 
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1 comment

Do you make salami? If so, where can I buy it?

Janis Olson

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