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Potbelly pigs are edible. (Country conversation & feedback).

COUNTRYSIDE: Someone asked if potbelly pigs are edible. Yes they are, but they have an awful lot of fat on them. The lady I got my pigs from said they cut off the outside fat and then ground the rest into sausage.

I have butchered three of them by myself so far, and I'm only 5'2"--so yes, people can do lots of things alone.

The meat was more moist than regular pork; there is more fat marbled into it. I rendered the lard and poured it into hot (225 [degrees] F) quart jars and sealed them with lids and bands. I like the lard for cooking and it has kept three years.

The potbelly pigs are relatively easy for one person to butcher. I taped some electrical tape around my pocketknife blade so only about 1/4-inch was left bare. I made length-wise cuts in the hide after killing the pig. If the weather is a bit cool, you can take pliers and just pull strips of hide off. You want to cut through the hide to the fat--no deeper. Cut strips about 2-1/2 to 3 inches apart. A castrating knife works good for this because of the hooked tip. I skin past the hams--the rest should come off in strips. I like to skin out the front legs while the hog is on the ground. It is easier than when it is hanging upside down. I also try to cut through the breastbone, but I'm still having trouble with this (I use a meat saw). I also tied plastic bags over the rectum and "waterworks" to keep this stuff off the meat.

Wrap the skinned animal with an old, clean tablecloth or sheets. Once we didn't do this and the wind blew sand onto the meat. We ended up scraping dirt off the whole hog (this wasn't a potbelly). Use safety pins and twine to fasten the sheets. If you're going to hang it in a cooler, you won't have to worry about this. My cooler is a tree.

These pigs are quiet and the adults survive southern South Dakota weather without much bedding. They root, but have never rooted under the hog panels. You could use them to till the garden or barn, or kill poison ivy or brush. I fed mine just corn, table scraps and water.

The barrows have tusks that are about two inches long, and some potbellys are blind because their eyes are set so deep in their heads.

I do have some questions: Will these potbelly pigs cross with our domestic pigs? Has anyone every tried selecting the leaner of the potbellies to get "some" of the fat off? If anyone has any experiences with potbelly pigs, you can write. (I don't promise to write back, though.)

If a person wanted to make soap, these pigs are a walking soap factory, but anything gets fat on corn. -- N. V. Zahradnicek, 31614 296th St.; Colome, SD 57528
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Author:Zahradnicek, N.V.
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:May 1, 2002
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