Hereford Hog Heaven
Chef Matt's relationship with Jim Wood of Palmetto Creek Farms dates many years. He's ordered Jim's pork for Michael's Genuine Food & Drink and Harry's Pizzeria under the Genuine Hospitality Group umbrella. He brought Jim's pork into The Hoxton and Box Park. He's even served it at his wedding. Jim is the farmer that Matt referenced in his Kickstarter video who offered to take his chefs fishing and put them up for the night on the farm. He's a transparent farmer who welcomes people onto his land and takes pride in the way he raises his pigs. Jim stays busy on his farm, but to the outsider just strolling in just to have a snoop about, time seems to stand still.
Jim raises the largest head of Hereford hogs in the country, with about 650 on the farm right now His hogs are raised outdoors in wide-open spaces, with lots of room to run around, root up the soil, and cool down in mud baths. Jim began with Yorkshires, Hampshires, Durocs and Blue Butt crosses after raising show pigs for the fair. He'd later evolve to include even more breeds: Berkshires, Poland China, Spots, Tamworths, Durocs, Yorkshires, Hampshires, American Landrace, Chester Whites and Herefords. He'd eventually settle on the Hereford due to their supreme quality of meat and their tolerance to the Florida heat, partially due to their lighter coats.
The Hereford hog is a breed that is unique to the United States, having been developed in the early 1900's through the selective breeding of the Duroc, Chester White, and Poland China. The Hereford hog borrows it's name from the Hereford breed of cattle because they share the same color pattern of intense red and white trim. The Hereford's numbers declined in the 1960's when the industrialized system started favoring a Duroc, Hampshire, and Yorkshire crossbreed over purebred animals. There are believed to be less than 2000 Herefords living in the United States currently. When we asked Jim who he was selling his pigs to, the answer was clear: chefs. This is a perfect example of how tuned-in chefs can help keep rare breeds of livestock from going extinct. A full thirty-percent of the Herefords being raised in the United States right now are due to the demand of Florida chefs.
Per usual, when we go out to the farms we learn new stuff, and trips to Palmetto Creek are always rewarding in that regard. This week we learned that counting nipples on both boars and sows is an important part of breeding them. Pigs have varying numbers of nipples and sometimes produce an odd number. Jim matches the count of nipples on his boar to the amount of nipples on his sows prior to breeding. A higher number of teats on a sow may yield a better result when it comes time for nursing piglets. So the teat count on a boar should be at least equal, if not higher, to the teat count of the sow. Breeding a boar with a smaller teat count than a sow might be counter-productive. It's also worth mentioning here that Jim has proven false the expression, "Worthless as teats on a boar". The more you know....
Jim's pigs are involved in cooking competitions often and have won the prestigious Cochon 555 crown. We use Palmetto Creek Farms pork in a wide variety of our products. We've put in our order and will be showcasing Palmetto Creek Farms pork with our first shipments. Be sure you are staying up-to-date on farm activity, recipes, and news from the shop by following along in social media and on our mailing list. Jim would tell you that he's raising pigs the way your grandparents may have raised pigs. And that's precisely why we continue to do business with him.