Free range pork

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Long happy lives

Our herd of 150 Tamworth and Gloucester Old Spots pigs live outdoors all year round in small arks. We let them mature slowly at their natural pace and keep our breeding sows and boars for all their natural lives, even when they have stopped producing litters. Our pigs routinely live to about ten years old, and are only humanely put down when they become too ill through extreme old age in pig terms. Contrast this with commercial pork production where the sows are considered over the hill at two or three years old and are routinely despatched because it isn’t considered economic to feed them.  

Our pigs are reared outdoors with access to arks for shelter and security.  The sows and their piglets are allowed to root and roam as nature intended.  They live all their lives in their small family groups, maintaining social structures.  The piglets stay with their moths as long as possible and are only weaned at about 14 weeks old.  This produces strong piglets, with in-built disease resistance.  Because the pigs root in the soil outdoors,, they take in all their mineral requirements like a wild rooting animal, and (unlike indoor reared pigs) need no iron injections or routine antibiotics.  They live healthy and relaxed lives without the need for any human interference.  

Mature Pigs - better flavour

Our pigs reared for meat are allowed to grow to maturity and the sows are generally left to have a litter before they are culled.  The average age at which one of our pigs is killed is about 52 weeks. Compare this to commercial pig production where pigs are killed at 24 weeks old.  The age at which a pig is killed is critical to the quality of the meat.  Slowly reared free range por will show the characteristics of mature meat - it will be dark red, because the animals have been able to root in the soil to get iron naturally; it will be lean because they have exercised naturally; and it will have the full flavour of a mature animal, not the bland taste of an overfed immature animal.  Indoor reared pork, of both commercial and rare breeds, will be pale, because indoor reared pigs are anaemic.  Indoor reared pork contains a lot of liquid, indicating that the animal has not had a chance to exercise naturally and has been overfed to stimulate unnaturally rapid growth.  


Rich Pastures

We also keep 150 laying hens, mainly Dorkings, and a small herd of Hebridean rare breed sheep. There is a pond, and an old orchard that has been restored with traditional varieties of plums, damsons, apples and pears. Hedges are not cut annually, but left to grow into mature trees and provide barriers for pigs and sheep, windbreaks and shelter, passageways and food for animals and birds. Some of our hedges are 100 years old. We also maintain the species rich pasture of our fields by avoiding ploughing and by overseeding bare patches with a grass, herb and clover seed mix.