Sunday, January 6, 2008

I'm not so good at moderation.

I'm supposed to be limiting myself to two new species of animals a year. Apparently, turkeys and chickens classify as two different species. I was trying to convince my husband that they were really just one - poultry - but he wouldn't go for it. Damn.

There are two more I would like to start with this year. A breed of duck and a breed of pig.

The duck is for purely practical reasons. It's a Muscovy duck, known for being prolific fly eaters. I don't know if they eat knats, which would be even more useful than fly eating around here. Dairies and stables are starting to use these as fly control now, and it seems a wonderful, organic option to me - the fly jugs we use now are barely effective and they reek of the chemicals used in them (even though the company who makes the fly poison insists that it is safe for you to dump the flies drowned in the chemicals in your compost pile - just nasty). Another benefit to these ducks is that they do not swim, so we would not need to provide a pond, and they are quieter ducks, hissing, not quacking. These are not endangered in any way, but they look very useful, so I'm all for it.

I can only purchase Muscovy duck *eggs* from the McMurray hatchery and I have no reliable way of hatching out the eggs. A place like this may be my only option if I want some of these ducks.

This is one picture of muscovies. From what I can find out online, they can be quite different looking, some being striking, others being drab gray and brown.

The pig that I'd like to start breeding is a Tamworth, but my husband wants to breed Herefords. Ideally, he'd like to breed none at all - who wants to keep a boar on their property? - but when I showed him the Hereford, he was impressed. I'd like to get one baby sow and one baby boar this spring to have ready to go next year, but it looks like I'll have to start with the babies next year. Even if marital harmony didn't require it, finances would.

Tamworths are originally from Ireland and are nicknamed the "bacon hogs". Two counts for them right there. I've lived in Ireland and we're a bacon family. My three year old wants to turn every animal we eat into bacon - elk, moose, chicken, beef, turkey - it all needs to be bacon. These pigs are known for being excellent foragers and mothers, both necessities for "pasture pigs".

Like I said, Tamworths are my choice, but my husband wants a Hereford herd, and when you add up the pros and cons, he may be right. These are very gentle animals (good for a young family), do fine under pasture conditions (though not as aggressive about foraging as a Tamworth), would probably be a big 4-H hit around here, and are excellent mothers. And they really are beautiful for hogs.

The Red Wattle is a hog that I would *really* like to breed, but we need more acreage. Look at the SIZE of these suckers. They can grow up to 1200 pounds and be eight feet long, still smaller than their ancestors. A very, very few breeders are trying to bring this animal back to its original size and reputation for meat quality. They are said to be very gentle animals (a necessity for the size, I'd think - much like draft horses) and be good mothers and foragers. I would love to get involved in helping this breed limp along awhile longer once we have more land.


Cathy said...

I had some muscovies when I was a kid. Good ducks. The male was in love with my mom.

Cathy said...

Looked around for ya for muscovies. There ar a lot of links on this page for muscovies. Hope that helps.
Hatchery with white muscovies.

Might be able to find them locally as well.

Pichinde said...

Thank you, Cathy! I'm heading to check those out right now.

Christy said...

We know we want chickens and turkeys but have been talking ducks too. I know we'll need to start slow and work our way up.

Diana said...

Hi, thanks for stopping by our blog and commenting on our poor donkey... he is missed. Where are you located? We have muscovies here in NC that will be setting in the next few months. We have all solid colored birds; a black drake, two chocolate ripple, two self-blue and a blue duck. If interested let me know.

Pichinde said...

Diana, we're in southern Idaho. Far, far away unfortunately.

My husband lived in NC for a few years and really enjoyed his time there. If only shipping didn't cost so much...