Sunny Cedars Farm is proud to produce heritage breeds of pork, pasture-raised to make your meals more memorable! We know that good things come to those who wait, so unlike commercial producers, who use genetically-modified pigs, steroids, and growth-enhancers, we raise heritage breeds the old-fashioned way for happier pigs and a much more delicious product.
Commercial pork producers use indoor, intensive confinement operations to raise hogs who may never see the light of the sun. They’re kept close together in barns where the risk of contagious disease is high. These factory farms use Yorkshire Landrace cross pigs who have been bred to tolerate confinement, grow faster, and grow longer and leaner (to produce more pork chops) over the years. They are fed steroids and growth hormones to further speed their growth. As a result, commercial breeders can produce large quantities of pork at a low cost — but what has been sacrificed is flavor.
Pork is now marketed as “the other white meat,” because that’s what you get in the grocery store – a nondescript, flavorless white meat that has to be brined or marinated to give it any flavor. At Sunny Cedars, we know how pork is supposed to be — dark rosy pink, perfectly marbled, rich and juicy, and bursting with flavor!
We use old, heritage pig breeds such as Berkshires and Tamworths that have fallen out of favor with commercial growers because they take longer to mature than Yorkshires. They may grow slower, but after a year or so of rooting in the dirt and and grass and rolling in the mud, they produce delicious meat due to the intramuscular fat, or marbling, of their meat. Different breeds bring different traits, such as good mothering or foraging abilities, meat quality and taste, efficiency (using less feed to produce more meat), etc. At present we have Berkshire, Duroc, Tamworth, Yorkshire crosses and the Spotted breed, a branch off the Poland China. We’re looking at adding the Gloucestershire Old Spots and the Large Black breeds later.
Our pigs have free access to woods and pasture. They spend their days rooting around for hickory nuts and acorns, cooling off in the mud, and sleeping in the sun. They love to pig out on special treats of baked goods, fruits, and vegetables. They are also fed high-protein hog feed that is formulated, mixed, and ground here on the farm using local corn and other ingredients. We have learned over the years that we can produce a better quality and more efficient feed ourselves than we can buy at a feed store. Because our hogs have a healthy environment and lots of space to roam, they are hardly ever sick, so antibiotics aren’t necessary.
When it comes time for butchering, we still keep our hogs’ welfare in mind. We take our hogs to Williamsburg Packing Company in Kingstree, SC. They butcher and package meat to our specifications. They also use a system of tags that stay with the animal throughout the butchering process to be sure we get back the same animal we took in, an issue that is very important to us. Williamsburg Packing is a certified humane slaughterhouse. They have strict requirements about the treatment of animals that are brought to them, such as requiring that trailers be in good repair and pose no risk to the animal’s welfare. When unloading, the animal may not be kicked, slapped or even yelled at. It must voluntarily enter the holding pens without being subjected to fear or stress. Finally, they are humanely euthanized with CO2 gas, the same gas used in hospitals as an anesthetic. This step certainly can’t be avoided if the animal was raised for meat, but it can be done in such a way that causes the animal no fear or pain and gives respect to the life that is being used to sustain and nourish us.