6 reasons to buy heritage pork from small farms
Most people find heritage pigs better-tasting, and for that reason they have made a comeback in America. At a restaurant within walking distance of where I live, there is a popular burger made from heritage pork. It's not the name of the burger but the juicy flavor that makes this a favorite.
Pigs raised on pasture have 300 percent more vitamin E and 74 percent more selenium (a vital antioxidant) in their milk than pigs raised in confinement, according to Don C. Mahan, professor of Animal Sciences at Ohio State University. This bounty of nutrients promotes healthier litters, shorter farrowing times, and good milk let down. The pigs' meat is enriched with vitamins as well. Fortifying the pigs' diet with synthetic vitamins, the standard practice in confinement operations, does not achieve the same results because the artificial vitamins are more poorly absorbed.
A herd of pigs that had not been exposed to antibiotics for 126 months was divided into two groups and either housed on pasture or in standard indoor units. Over a 20-month period, fecal coliforms from both groups of pigs were tested for resistance to standard antibiotics. Samples taken from the pastured pigs were far less likely to be antibiotic resistant. "The data from this study suggest that exposure to antibiotics is not the only factor that influences the prevalence of bacteria that are resistant to single and multiple antibiotics in the feces of domestic animals and that considerable research is needed to define the factors influencing antibiotic resistance in fecal bacteria.
5. Heritage breeds that are pastured help the environment
“Most conventional production of swine, poultry, and eggs in this country is done in large confined operations in which animals are fed grain-based diets, given no access to pasture, and fed antibiotics to prevent disease and accelerate growth. These confined or concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) pose environmental, animal health, and public health hazards due to the enormous quantities of manure produced in these operations and the large number of animals raised in close quarters.
Well-managed pasture systems can minimize environmental damage to soil, air, and water, and build soil fertility. Animals that can engage in natural behaviors outside as opposed to being crowded indoors tend to be healthier and need fewer antibiotics, which reduces the rate of antibiotic resistance in food-borne bacteria. “
6. Heritage breeds promote diversity
Diversity is good because not only does it provide a wide array of tasty pork, but it also is a better protection against disease. If a new (or old) disease gains the upper hand with one breed of pigs, other breeds are often resistant. If all pigs were raised in CAFOs, diversity would be nil. This would be an unwise situation. Diversity in plants and diversity in animal stock is always a safeguard.
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