Meet Ipp: The Perfect Pasture Pig Breed

Its all about the snout, says Shelly Farris, who admits to being a snout snob when it comes to pigs. After several years of research and breeding, she and her husband, Gary, believe they have developed the perfect pig to raise on pasture. Their Idaho Pasture Pig (Ipp) has a short, upturned snout that reduces rooting, compared to breeds that use their long snouts like shovels to rip up pastureland. Plus, the Farrises say, Ipps are so docile and gentle that piglets will crawl into their laps - and the sow has no problem with it.

It all started with one little Kunekune pig named Domino, who changed our lives forever, Farris says. He was loveable and followed us around like a faithful dog. Gary would go out and sit with him for hours.

Kunekune is a small pasture pig breed from New Zealand. Gary was content to have pigs as pets. Shelly, however, wanted to raise pigs for food on their Rigby, Idaho, farm. The Farrises liked the good meat qualities and growth rates in the Duroc and Berkshire breeds, but liked the Kunekunes snout and good nature. In 2006, the Farrises began the process of developing a new breed, which requires a minimum of three pure breeds, seven generations, and lots of documentation.

They started selling Ipp breeding stock and bred sows this year.

The pig we had envisioned in our mind became a reality, Farris says. Our Ipps graze grass like they are starved for it. They are gentle and smaller in size at maturity (350 to 400 lbs). We could not be happier with their conformation. They have erect ears; most have wattles. They have compact bodies and a nice layer of fat that makes the meat excellent. They reach market weight in 5 1/2 to 7 months (240 to 250 lbs.), depending on the feeding program. They have nice legs and well-rounded hams. They are spotted in color with some black and white and some red and black. We have several lines available and continue to create new lines.

Customers have included mostly hobby farmers who have pasture and want to raise their own meat. Ideal pasture includes mixes with clover, rye, alfalfa, rapeseed, legumes, timothy and bluegrass. The Farrises supplement their herds diet with a mix of wheat, soybean meal, sow concentrate and ground alfalfa. Pumpkin seeds are a natural dewormer, and pigs love apples, plums and other fruit. Ipps love whey and table scraps too, but Farris never feeds them meat or celery. She notes that whatever is fed to them, especially in the last month, imparts flavor to the meat.

Ipps sows average nine piglets/litter, and boars should be changed every 2 or 3 years. Like other hog breeds, they adapt to hot and cold climates, but need shelter during cold weather and shade in the heat.

The Farrises use buildings that were on their farm and also have huts for shelters. During farrowing, they have small boxes for the piglets to get into, but there have been few problems with sows rolling over on their young.

Breeding stock starts at $350, and they can be shipped (by air), Farris says. Ipps are already happily grazing in various parts of the U.S.

Nothing is prettier than a bunch of pigs on pasture, Farris says.