Every year we get our pigs from Peggy and John Stewart from Saddleworth. Peggy loves all animals and her pigs are no exception. I'm proud to grow pigs for the table in a sustainable and ethical way, and Peggy is the perfect pig breeder for my kind of farming. Her sows are NOT confined to sow stalls where they can't turn or move. Her sows farrow (give birth) in lovely roomy accommodation where she might occasionally squash one of her piglets, but that's natures way.
We've all seen pictures in the media of the horrible conditions in the commercial piggeries, but did we know that there are still a few breeders out there who show much more compassion to the animals and operate their farms accordingly?
All of Peggy's pigs are allowed access to paddocks to allow them to be pigs and do pig things like wallow in muddy puddles, dig up dirt, eat grass, play and socialize.
Peggy's breeding pigs are celebrating the "pigness" of the pig.
It was a hot day and they were having the loveliest wallow in their mud puddle. The enclosures are always clean and there is never even a hint of that awful stale piggery smell that whacks you if you drive past a commercial piggery.
They will be confined to this yard for the first couple of weeks and then allowed access to the large yard.
I'll feed them pig "weaner pellets" as their main ration whilst introducing small amounts of table scraps and vegetable peelings for the first few weeks. Their little bellies are very fragile and any sudden change to their diet can cause stomach problems and even death. They will gradually get used to eating a varied diet of scraps, fruit, milk etc.
Clean water is available in a heavy container that has been cemented into the ground to prevent the pigs tipping it over.
The pig enclosure has been left empty since the last pigs were processed in March this year. Brian rotary hoed and we planted a crop of oats to freshen the ground and remove any sourness that may have been present. As the pigs ingest some of the dirt, doing what pigs do, we need to be sure it's clean and parasite free.
Our unit wasn't fully charged when we put the pigs in their yard yesterday but we thought they would be OK overnight until the sun charged it up today. While enjoying a much deserved glass of wine on the verandah before dinner, we were joined by our new little friends exploring the garden. Ooops!
Careful herding had them back in their yard and while I kept an eye on them Brian zipped off to borrow a unit from friends overnight.
We enjoy eating pork but couldn't do that with a clear conscience until we started raising our own pigs. Well, we were in for a huge treat when we got our first pig to the table. Unbelievable flavour!
Imagine our delight when we met Peggy. The pigs we eat have a great life from beginning to end.