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Persistence Pays Off For Meishan Pig Producer
After 3 years, hundreds of emails, and dozens of phone calls, a pair of rare Meishan sows finally ended up in the back of Rico Silvera’s van in 2016. Safely aboard, Silvera drove them from Illinois to their new home in Tennessee on a cold February day in 2016. “I literally rescued these two 350-lb. animals from the slaughterhouse,” Silvera says with pride. “They were offspring from 26 years of research that wasn’t renewed, so their days were numbered.”
  During a phone conversation to buy the sows, Silvera learned of 5 boars that were also available. He bought that group as well, sight-unseen and unbeknownst to his wife and farming partner. “When I told Angelia I’d bought those animals she thought I was a madman. But you know, it was probably the best purchase I’ve ever made. These pigs have been absolutely wonderful.”
  Buying the Meishans meant the Silveras family had to disperse their herd of American Guinea Hogs (AGH), which they’d spent several years acquiring and developing. Satisfied that the AGH breed was on its way to recovery, they switched to the Meishans. Now they own the most genetically diverse herd outside of mainland China, where the breed originated.
  “The Meishan is an amazing animal with an even more amazing background,” Silvera says. “It’s the oldest heritage swine breed in the world. They are docile and sedentary, with a pet-like demeanor.”
  Because the U.S. research breeds have been dispersed, it’s up to independent breeders to maintain it. The Silveras do that by selling offspring to heritage farms who want to raise them as purebreds or to cross them with other breeds and replicate their positive qualities. Their herd, acquired from the University of Illinois and the University of Nebraska, has 7 unique boar lines and four unique sow lines.
  Meishans are hyper-productive, often producing up to 20 piglets per litter. Sows have 16 to 20 teats and superior mothering qualities that allow them to easily raise the large families. They thrive on a diet high in fiber and roughage and they don’t root, so they make excellent animals for pasturing.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, God’s Blessing Farm, LLC, Niota, Tenn. 37826 (ph 865 388-5712; www.godsblessingfarm.com) or Meishan Breeders Association (www.meishanbreeders.com).

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2018 - Volume #42, Issue #2