Rebecca, from Sallygardens Smallholding, sent me a copy of her Pig Rearing e-booklet to review. She wrote the book because so many people who knew about her smallholding in Ireland had contacted her to ask advice on pig rearing. Books are of course available but in my own experience (and admittedly I am not near an English bookshop) pig books are not always available. I'm still waiting for mine to come from Amazon an amazing FOUR WEEKS after ordering it.
I want to say straight off that I do NOT yet have any pigs but that our weaners are arriving in the middle of April. Rebecca's book is aimed at people like me who are just starting with pigs and want a few inside nuggets to help them through the first few weeks of pigdom.
So often, when you take up something new and perhaps go on a course to help you get started, it is the off the cuff comments that are especially helpful. I have had experience of this in my own work and also in other areas of our life. Also the questions that OTHER people ask. I learned the hard way about wearing welly boots and not trainers when inspecting our bees but I was able to pass on that seemingly obvious piece of advice to a new beekeeper the other day. And this is where Rebecca has come up trumps. For example, when you go to collect your pigs she tells you to :
"Ask the breeder the brand of the treatments they have used. The information may be useful to a vet if you have any future problems."
OK, it's obvious - but it never occurred to me to put it on the list of questions. Careful and thorough interrogation of the breeder is essential and for those of us venturing out for the first time any help at all is welcome!
She touches on which breeds are easiest to rear on a smallholding and the different characteristics of these breeds. Realistic to a fault she includes a detailed cost sheet of how much she and her husband spent during the first year of owning pigs and then again the second year - the point being that set up costs are not repeated. It is an exercise worth doing before embarking on this new adventure - the amount pigs eat is not insubstantial and the rising cost of feed may be enough to put some people off!
Inevitably, if one is rearing weaners with a view to eating them the slaughter day will arrive and here again Rebecca is characteristically honest; after slaughtering your pigs she says:
"You will either delight in a culinary experience you’ll never forget and will want to repeat, or you will become a vegetarian."
Rebecca's very affordable (8 euros) book touches on all the absolute necessities of pig rearing: food, acreage required, housing, legalities of buying and slaughtering, how to find a butcher, processing the meat, cost and so on. It's a book that will compliment your other pig husbandry books.
Does it stand on its own? I don't know yet but if Amazon don't come up with the goods it will have to!
If you would like to buy a copy contact Rebecca at Sallygardens - if you haven't read her blog before you will be hooked!