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Eating feral hogs

by (1025)
Updated about 16 hours ago
Created February 01, 2012 at 8:10 PM

Ok, this is kind of a complicated question and I'm pretty ignorant about this, but please chime in if you are familiar with this subject. I was watching Hogs Gone Wild on netflix, and granted the drama is probably amped up for TV, but they explain that wild pigs are 1) an invasive species, 2) multiplying like crazy, 3) quite aggressive and terrorizing some neighborhoods (much like wild turkeys in other parts of the country) and farms, and 4) they have no natural predators to control their numbers.

SOOOO, my question is: why aren't humans their natural predators? What is it about the food distribution infrastructure/laws/habits of wild pigs that makes eating them, as opposed to their domesticated (less healthy, raised in much worse conditions) brethren, so difficult?

How can we better control the feral hogs numbers, while giving people healthier meat options to boot?

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21405 · February 08, 2012 at 7:35 PM

In Florida from what I understand, there are no limits on predatory coyotes, there are no limits on feral hogs, but statewide you can only shoot one stag per day, and he must have spikes 6" or over to qualify... else you are getting a hefty fine and your license taken away for a year.

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11557 · February 05, 2012 at 2:35 AM

Yeah, I think the boy who got really sick was the first person in our community in the collective-memory of our doctors. Must be very rare to get such a bad reaction from it!

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347 · February 04, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Stephanie: kinda makes you wonder about the classical paleo adage to eat lean meat. Shrug. Eva: yeah, good points. So my farmer's market vendor sells the cuts that went through the trap -> haul (alive) to processor -> slaughter and butcher process. He charged $4.50/lb for the bone-in shoulder. But as a bonus, he gave me some sausage from a hog that he shot. He couldn't sell it, like you say, because it wasn't processed per regulation to allow for sale.

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20787 · February 04, 2012 at 7:45 AM

The main issue was why it was not sold. Yes, a butcher will handle it for you, but you can't SELL it without passing a lot more hurdles. This is probably the main reason why it is not commonly sold. Otherwise, it could be had for cheap as you didn't have to feed and raise the critters and in some places, there are a lot of them. But since you have to have onsite inspectors at the kill in order to be legal to sell the meat, that makes it very complicated.

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20787 · February 04, 2012 at 7:43 AM

I heard that autopsies show that 1 in 2 Americans have had trichinosos in their lifetime. The lesions in the instestines tell the tale. Apparently, most of us are able to control and contain trichinosis outbreaks without even knowing we ever had them. I suspect it's only a few people who really get sick from it.

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2485 · February 02, 2012 at 6:32 PM

My local natural foods store sells ground wild boar under the Durham Ranch label. Durham Ranch is a Wyoming bison producer, but their website indicates that they source feral hogs from Texas. I've used it in chili before and it's fairly tasty. I'm not sure about the quality of the feed though... feral animals are going to eat everything they can get their snouts on, regardless of contamination. I would base my diet around it for that reason.

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1638 · February 02, 2012 at 4:16 PM

AnnaA - um, yeah ... pissed AND pissed off feral hog???? You first, OK? (grin)

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1638 · February 02, 2012 at 4:13 PM

OK - if I get a chance to come by there like I want to, I'll stop and say "hi".

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21405 · February 02, 2012 at 1:32 PM

The last Sow I got was waay too lean... by the look of her she had just recently finished weaning a litter (no piglets to be found though). Even after running the meat through a grinder with added fat (I had some beef suet in the freeze) it was still "squeaky" after a very long cook in a crockpot chili.

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21405 · February 02, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Some butchershops near avid hunting communities will be more than happy to butcher your kills for you, but it really changes the economy (you will pay $1/lb dressed or more), plus of course it has to be for "personal use only", i.e. you can't sell it. I have, however, given some meat to the butcher in partial exchange for dressing out a carcass. I do most of that stuff myself these days though... as I usually only bring one large cooler I need to break it down quickly.

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1118 · February 02, 2012 at 12:07 PM

In my experience, "wild" animals are fatter and leander at different times of the year. That is generally why the technical hunting season falls at these times. Here, in Minnesota, most animals tend to be fattest in the fall, after eating a lot and living the good life all summer. That's when we go after them with rifle and bow, when they are tastiest :)

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1118 · February 02, 2012 at 11:58 AM

My husband went on a pig hunt several years ago. The meat wasn't bad, and I wish he could do it more. However, the license was SO expensive, he probably won't do it any time again soon...

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1025 · February 02, 2012 at 2:26 AM

Thanks for the link, "completely mobile and self-contained slaughterhouse" seems to be essential to this process.

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21405 · February 02, 2012 at 1:20 AM

Jcb - I'm retired... I'll be the MC/announcer for the competition on the 11th

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78417 · February 01, 2012 at 11:53 PM

Maybe just lay out some mash from making wine, get them drunk, and whish them into the truck when they are pissed then. :)

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1025 · February 01, 2012 at 11:31 PM

Dang, I'm drooling.

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3443 · February 01, 2012 at 11:23 PM

I think you could probably trap and transport them but in my experience capturing and transporting wild animals isn't easy or cheap. Although I've not dealt with hogs specifically so I am just guessing.

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1638 · February 01, 2012 at 11:22 PM

Hey Joshua - you ever want to share any of that wild hog, I'm practically in your neighborhood! (Waves from St Pete.) And, completely off topic, are you gonna compete in Clearwater on the 11th?

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3443 · February 01, 2012 at 11:21 PM

I've had mixed results personally. Some people are quite surprised at how good wild game can be when cooked properly. I've also had people say "I just can't get over the fact that this animal was alive so recently." Which is silly to me but whatever. Another thing I encounter here is the fact that many, from certain generations, were raised almost solely on game meat and associate it with poverty--"no thanks I ate enough xyz growing up, I prefer beef/chicken/whatever."

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78417 · February 01, 2012 at 11:15 PM

"that means they would have to be slaughtered at an approved facility." That complicates the whole thing doesn't it! If it takes a pack of dogs to tire the feral hog enough to shoot it, how do you suppose we would get it on the truck to go to the slaughterhouse? Here piggy, piggy, piggy?

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21405 · February 01, 2012 at 11:02 PM

On the squeamishness - I've brought wild game to potlucks at work to great fanfare, but haven't converted the average office drone to don cammys and come out hunting with me. I've been known to surprise people with offal as well "wow! this is tongue? this is awesome!"

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3443 · February 01, 2012 at 11:01 PM

I think part of the issue is the disconnect people have between hunting and food in general. I know people who seem to think that killing an animal while hunting is somehow more cruel than buying factory-farm raised meat.

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21405 · February 01, 2012 at 10:42 PM

I eat the heck out of wild hog. In fact, Monday I just finished off 4lbs of leftover wild pig from my hunting partner's cookout last Saturday.

The biggest problem with hogs is that they are a lot like us, they breed wantonly, don't really care about their environment, and will do anything they can to their environment in order to thrive. The difference is, every sow is an Octomom, leaving 4-8 little destructors in her wake, and since many of them are actually feral modern-breed domestic pigs, they have evolved from breeds that have short gestation periods (many sows can litter twice a year).

Mix that, with the traditional Spanish hogs that were deposited here in the 1500's and left to "wild up" for the last half-millennia, and you have a aggressive, invasive, hungry little monsters. Breed like rabbits, feed like locusts.

Here in Florida, they tear up the clover to eat the roots, leaving the deer to starve... they eat all the acorns leaving the squirrels/raccoons to fend for themselves, and they have even been known to lay waste to alligator/turtle nests, as well they will eat birds eggs, snakes, whatever they can get.

So yeah, I shoot, clean, and eat pigs - and do so as much as my skills will allow. Sometimes with boars, you will get some musty/musky flavors due to various things (mostly hormones, but also pathogens/infections from the cuts and scrapes associated with fighting other boars and their dirty tusks). You can brine out most of that funk though by doing a two, maybe three-stage brine (cold salted water, changed out 2-3 times over two days within 6 hours of killing). I like any smokehouse treatment for boars, that strong gamey funk goes well with smoke. I normally toss boar organs, or grind them and give them to my dogs... not paleo, I'm sure, but it's too hardcore even for my very adventurous palate.

Sow and piglet is almost always clean, mild, with a slight sweetness that you don't get with commercial pork (or even heritage/organic/pastured pork for that matter). I keep this around for unsmoked sausages, chops, etc... and use the organs for sausages. Since I'm now eating some starch again, the next sow I get will have her liver converted into boudin blanc.

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1638 · February 02, 2012 at 4:13 PM

OK - if I get a chance to come by there like I want to, I'll stop and say "hi".

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21405 · February 02, 2012 at 1:20 AM

Jcb - I'm retired... I'll be the MC/announcer for the competition on the 11th

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1025 · February 01, 2012 at 11:31 PM

Dang, I'm drooling.

E7a462d6e99fec7e8f0ddda11b34a770
1638 · February 01, 2012 at 11:22 PM

Hey Joshua - you ever want to share any of that wild hog, I'm practically in your neighborhood! (Waves from St Pete.) And, completely off topic, are you gonna compete in Clearwater on the 11th?

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11557 · February 02, 2012 at 1:38 AM

One word about this: COOK IT WELL!! Trichinosis is usually not that bad of a parasite, but you are more likely to get it if you are eating game vs. farmer fed. 90% of the time you are symptomless, but every once in a while you get someone with a severe reaction.

One young guy in my community got a lung hemorrhage for eating undercooked wild hog, and he had odd symptoms from it for a few years after the infection. He developed a sort of speech impediment, apparently it can cause some CNS damage, so that is kind of terrifying. But really really rare. So yeah, save the rare-cooked tenderloin for your friendly, local farmer-raised pigs to avoid completely!

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11557 · February 05, 2012 at 2:35 AM

Yeah, I think the boy who got really sick was the first person in our community in the collective-memory of our doctors. Must be very rare to get such a bad reaction from it!

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20787 · February 04, 2012 at 7:43 AM

I heard that autopsies show that 1 in 2 Americans have had trichinosos in their lifetime. The lesions in the instestines tell the tale. Apparently, most of us are able to control and contain trichinosis outbreaks without even knowing we ever had them. I suspect it's only a few people who really get sick from it.

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3443 · February 01, 2012 at 10:56 PM

Like the others have mentioned, people do eat them and are therefore predators of feral hogs. They are pretty prolific breeders though, so rates of harvest may not be high enough to outpace reproduction. The issues that arise from selling any wild game meat can be complex (link). Most wild game falls into a gray area outside the scope of the USDA. Wild boars would be classified as pork and do fall within the jurisdiction of federal inspectors but that means they would have to be slaughtered at an approved facility. There may also be local state regulation regarding wild game meat. Aside from that it may also be a matter of low relative demand and people's sqeamishness about eating wild game.

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1638 · February 02, 2012 at 4:16 PM

AnnaA - um, yeah ... pissed AND pissed off feral hog???? You first, OK? (grin)

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21405 · February 02, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Some butchershops near avid hunting communities will be more than happy to butcher your kills for you, but it really changes the economy (you will pay $1/lb dressed or more), plus of course it has to be for "personal use only", i.e. you can't sell it. I have, however, given some meat to the butcher in partial exchange for dressing out a carcass. I do most of that stuff myself these days though... as I usually only bring one large cooler I need to break it down quickly.

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1025 · February 02, 2012 at 2:26 AM

Thanks for the link, "completely mobile and self-contained slaughterhouse" seems to be essential to this process.

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78417 · February 01, 2012 at 11:53 PM

Maybe just lay out some mash from making wine, get them drunk, and whish them into the truck when they are pissed then. :)

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3443 · February 01, 2012 at 11:23 PM

I think you could probably trap and transport them but in my experience capturing and transporting wild animals isn't easy or cheap. Although I've not dealt with hogs specifically so I am just guessing.

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3443 · February 01, 2012 at 11:21 PM

I've had mixed results personally. Some people are quite surprised at how good wild game can be when cooked properly. I've also had people say "I just can't get over the fact that this animal was alive so recently." Which is silly to me but whatever. Another thing I encounter here is the fact that many, from certain generations, were raised almost solely on game meat and associate it with poverty--"no thanks I ate enough xyz growing up, I prefer beef/chicken/whatever."

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78417 · February 01, 2012 at 11:15 PM

"that means they would have to be slaughtered at an approved facility." That complicates the whole thing doesn't it! If it takes a pack of dogs to tire the feral hog enough to shoot it, how do you suppose we would get it on the truck to go to the slaughterhouse? Here piggy, piggy, piggy?

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21405 · February 01, 2012 at 11:02 PM

On the squeamishness - I've brought wild game to potlucks at work to great fanfare, but haven't converted the average office drone to don cammys and come out hunting with me. I've been known to surprise people with offal as well "wow! this is tongue? this is awesome!"

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20787 · February 01, 2012 at 8:21 PM

People do eat them. Feral hogs are a staple in many countries. I know in Korea, hunting feral hogs was long done with a small pack of well trained dogs and one hunter with a knife. The dogs would track and corner it and heckle it until it was tired. Then the dogs would try to hold it while the hunter ran up and slit its throat. But these days the hunters use guns instead. Those hogs are very dangerous but they are easier to catch up with than more docile game species and they have a ton of meat on them. I have seen shows on tv where some in the United States also hunt and eat em. They are said to be quite tasty and if the food they ate was not contaminated, then I am sure their meat is quite healthy.

The problem is most people would not hunt one on their own. And they ARE dangerous. And you have to know how to clean and prep and store them and that is a big job. To do it commercially there are umpteen requirements to legally sell meat, including having an inspector at the site of the slaughter. Because of laws, commercial sale of feral hog meat is complicated and expensive. And catching them isn't easy either.
-Eva

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10 · February 08, 2012 at 7:27 PM

I understand that Texas has a system for handling the transfer of hogs from the wild to commercial markets. They can be trapped in large portable corral traps, then trailered and hauled to an approved butcher. I have not heard of other states adopting regulations or policies necessary to make this feasible yet.

I have killed and eaten several wild hogs in South Carolina and they are excellent. In most states hunting them is very inexpensive and sometimes almost totally unrestricted, but if you hire a guide or pay for access onto private lands, then the cost really jumps. I am taking my son on a hunt in Georgia for his graduation present in March, and expecting great success.

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21405 · February 08, 2012 at 7:35 PM

In Florida from what I understand, there are no limits on predatory coyotes, there are no limits on feral hogs, but statewide you can only shoot one stag per day, and he must have spikes 6" or over to qualify... else you are getting a hefty fine and your license taken away for a year.

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347 · February 02, 2012 at 11:50 AM

In Austin, there's a guy selling wild hog meat at the Barton Creek Farmer's Market. He says he traps them on a ranch where they are a problem. Then they haul the hog to a processor for slaughter and butchering.

I've had a couple cuts so far: loin, and shoulder. Dee-licious. He said he has some ribs, I can't wait to try them.

I've been surprised at how fatty the cuts are. I've eaten all of it. I thought wild game would be lean. Maybe hogs get the wild version of the "cafeteria diet" around here.

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347 · February 04, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Stephanie: kinda makes you wonder about the classical paleo adage to eat lean meat. Shrug. Eva: yeah, good points. So my farmer's market vendor sells the cuts that went through the trap -> haul (alive) to processor -> slaughter and butcher process. He charged $4.50/lb for the bone-in shoulder. But as a bonus, he gave me some sausage from a hog that he shot. He couldn't sell it, like you say, because it wasn't processed per regulation to allow for sale.

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20787 · February 04, 2012 at 7:45 AM

The main issue was why it was not sold. Yes, a butcher will handle it for you, but you can't SELL it without passing a lot more hurdles. This is probably the main reason why it is not commonly sold. Otherwise, it could be had for cheap as you didn't have to feed and raise the critters and in some places, there are a lot of them. But since you have to have onsite inspectors at the kill in order to be legal to sell the meat, that makes it very complicated.

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21405 · February 02, 2012 at 1:32 PM

The last Sow I got was waay too lean... by the look of her she had just recently finished weaning a litter (no piglets to be found though). Even after running the meat through a grinder with added fat (I had some beef suet in the freeze) it was still "squeaky" after a very long cook in a crockpot chili.

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1118 · February 02, 2012 at 12:07 PM

In my experience, "wild" animals are fatter and leander at different times of the year. That is generally why the technical hunting season falls at these times. Here, in Minnesota, most animals tend to be fattest in the fall, after eating a lot and living the good life all summer. That's when we go after them with rifle and bow, when they are tastiest :)

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10919 · February 01, 2012 at 8:29 PM

MY grandfather and uncles shoot a few in my grandfather's orange groves In Florida every year. I asked my grandfather to save me the lard next time. :-D

You have to be careful about parasites so they're definetely a low and slow full cook kind of meat but it's quite delicious.

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428 · February 01, 2012 at 8:29 PM

Have a relative down in the low country in South Carolina where the feral pigs are a huge problem. In my aunt's words "they get in the fields and they just tear sh*t up." Much like hunting wild boar, it seems like the biggest problem is that they are potentially dangerous to the hunter. When I asked her if people were eating them, she seemed to think that they had to be butchered with care in order to ensure the meat remained suitable for human consumption, but details were hazy. She said some guys went out with dogs (Catahoula leopard hounds, which in my experience are dead fearless) and used the hounds in the way Eva describes -- the dogs found and tired the pig, then the owner shot it.

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0 · December 09, 2013 at 1:06 AM

I am an avid hog hunter! My family owns a large ranch here in Florida. We harvest between 600-800 hogs/yr! It's a full time job! The amount of damage done to our sod and cattle pasture is unbelievable! A sow and her chotes ( piglets) can destroy a pasture in just a few nights! They are not native to Florida and are considered a nuasance animal!

Being paleo, my family eats quite a bit of wild pork. My girls won't eat jimmy dean, I couldn't be prouder!! Sows are fantastic to eat. Boar hogs (intact males) are not so desirable, but small ones can be brined and made into a sausage. The meat is very lean, even when fat is added.

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2022 · June 06, 2012 at 8:47 PM

I posted this awhile back. You might find the information interesting. It's regarding "feral" hogs in Michigan.

http://paleohacks.com/questions/110035/pastured-pigs-and-the-small-family-farm#axzz1x19vClTs

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0 · June 06, 2012 at 8:22 PM

Im getting a wild hog from a farm that acquired it. What kinds of cuts should I request from the butcher? Thanks.

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