These are rather small, but they are very good, as is all the food there.I'm not questioning quality and flavor, just wondering how they can be so different. I would think that the larger ones would be more common, and four on a single plate means they must be really small. Either they cut them differently here than in Germany, or they are getting them from piglets.
Could be from piglets Tom, they are about the size of a lamb shank, only fatter.
That's about the size we get them. The ones I see from Deutschland are huge! I don't think pigs are very old when they go to the slaughterhouse these days.
Age does factor into when a hog goes to market but the primary driver is weight.
When I was kid we aimed for 305 lbs to 315 lbs which gave the hog a nice amount of fat without being flabby. The flavor comes from the fat and that is what the processor buyers wanted.
Today I think the target weight is closer to 275 lbs which will net a much leaner hog. It also means a very bland flavor. Those last 30 lbs also go on more slowly than the previous 100 do.
This trend isn't only driven by the market wanting a leaner product but also due to the corporate hog farms wanting to turn an extra group of hogs each year. The profit difference between 185,000 hogs and 255,000 hogs is quite substantial (those numbers are very likely much lower than actual). I don't remember exactly how long it used to take to finish out a hog but if you can cut 1.5 to 2 months off that time you can produce a lot more hogs.
All this also means that every part of the hog is smaller. I have a hard seeing a hock being 4 times larger in the past than today but I guess you never know.