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HomeFarmlifeHow a younger farmer is producing pasture-fed, soya-free pork

How a younger farmer is producing pasture-fed, soya-free pork

Feeding soya-free rations to her small herd of outside pigs has helped safe Amy Chapple a contract with a London-based meat retailer.

Miss Chapple, who runs her herd at Redwoods Farm close to Tiverton, Devon, finishes 140 pigs a 12 months in addition to producing eggs from pasture-raised hens.

She sells a number of weaners however finishes the bulk and transports them to an area abattoir earlier than they’re bought direct to shoppers or by farm retailers and butchers.

See additionally: Recommendation for lowering reliance on soya in suckler beef methods

Farm details:  Redwoods Farm

  • 61ha (150 acres) owned and about 61ha rented, relying on availability of grazing
  • 60 suckler cows, 500 ewes, 3,000 broilers in summer time, 150 layers and 10 breeding sows
  • 200m above sea leve

The Moral Butcher takes complete carcasses at 70-100kg deadweight and Miss Chapple targets 60-90kg deadweight for her different principal buyer, Ruxstons Farm Store, in close by Wellington.

She operates as a sole dealer managing the pig and laying hen enterprises.

She additionally takes fee on the meat, lamb and poultry she sells by her on-line and in-person retail enterprise on behalf of her mother and father, Mark and Pauline.

They handle the cattle, sheep and broilers and provide The Moral Butcher with soya-free hen.

Domestically sourced rations

Miss Chapple’s 10 breeding sows are run on a largely outside system, with every sow producing two litters a 12 months.

All pigs get the identical mixture of focus, 85% of which is grown inside seven miles of the farm. This share will enhance additional as peas are sourced extra regionally this 12 months.

Their soya-free weight loss plan was launched two years in the past when Miss Chapple moved away from an ordinary pig feed. The ration consists of barley, wheat, beans, peas and rapeseed meal.

The rapeseed meal is sourced from Farrington Oils in Northamptonshire, which achieved carbon-neutral standing in January 2020.

“I believe the rapeseed meal is a vital half [of the ration] as a result of it’s received varied amino acids that you simply don’t discover within the beans and peas,” she says.

seed mix for pigs

© Amy Chapple

Matching breed to system

Miss Chapple initially began out crossing a Giant White with a Saddleback and stored the pigs inside.

Nonetheless, on transferring the system open air, these pigs have been vulnerable to sunburn, so she moved to primarily Giant Black sows and is crossing them with a Gloucester Previous Spot boar.

She needed to enhance grower numbers quick to maintain up with demand, so initially purchased weaners in, however has now stopped doing this.

grazing pigs

© Amy Chapple

Gilts have been retained from the bought-in weaners and have needed to show they’ll develop properly on a primarily forage weight loss plan to be chosen for breeding.

“I’ve by no means needed to purchase sows in. If you happen to can see that they’ve completed properly on another person’s system, it doesn’t imply they’ll do properly in your system,” she says.

Nearly all of home-bred pigs at the moment are Giant Black cross Gloucester Previous Spot and achieve 1kg in weight for each 3.5kg of feed.

The cross-breeding is vital as a result of when the weight loss plan was fed to purebred Previous Spots, 5.5kg was fed to realize a weight achieve of 1kg.

Boars get a mean of 2kg/day and gilts are fed 1.5kg/day – much less in summer time and extra in winter.

One of many well being advantages of the regenerative system is that wormers usually are not required. Nonetheless, six months in the past, some weaners introduced in worms, which means the entire herd wanted worming.

This was a contributing think about her determination to shut the herd.

With loads of stimulation outdoors, there have by no means been any instances of tail biting or related behaviour between pigs, and Miss Chapple believes the system takes stress off the sows as a result of piglets are busy.

Litters common 9 piglets, that are weaned at eight weeks. Trialling weaning at seven weeks discovered the piglets weren’t prepared, whereas extending it to 10 weeks meant the sows have been dropping an excessive amount of physique situation.

After weaning, sows are rested for 3 weeks earlier than being put again to the boar. This has elevated litter dimension in contrast with placing sows straight again with the boar after weaning.

piglet in woodland

© Amy Chapple

Paddock grazing

In the course of the summer time, pigs aged between 4 and 12 months shall be paddock-grazed round a 1ha (2.5-acre) discipline and a 2.4ha (6-acre) discipline.

Gilts are stocked at a density of 30 pigs to 0.04ha (0.1 acres) and boars at a density of 40-head to 0.08ha (0.2 acres). Relying on forage availability, they’re more likely to be moved each three to seven days.

Earlier than pigs go away an space of summer time grazing, Miss Chapple reseeds it by distributing a mixture of cereals, beans, peas, grasses, herbs, and chicken seed by hand.

The pigs dig this in, and the bottom is then rested for 3 to 4 months.

Miss Chapple believes the pure behaviour the pigs are allowed to exhibit within the system enhances the meat she is producing.

“As a result of they’re transferring round extra and busy foraging, they construct up muscle tissues and it provides a depth of flavour to the meat,” she says.

In winter, when there are fewer pigs, the rotation is slowed down.

“This 12 months I received across the restricted winter forage availability by placing some pigs on rented cowl crops for winter,” she says.

“The boars are on some grazing that my dad is renting, and they’re getting used to plough it up earlier than he drills a crop of cereals, peas and natural ley combine to be minimize for cattle silage.”

pigs in field with silage

© Hayley Chapman

Pigs as composters

Farrowing takes place in small huts and piglets shall be weaned onto pasture. Nonetheless, in wetter climate, growers are housed in sheds which have beforehand had cattle in.

The pigs dig and aerate the cattle manure, composting it earlier than it’s unfold onto grassland.

Miss Chapple scatters wholegrains and beans within the cattle shed every now and then earlier than pigs go into the constructing in order that the grains are layered with contemporary straw and muck.

“They ferment and scent good, so the pigs go digging,” she explains. The composting of the manure makes the vitamins extra available when it’s unfold on the grassland.

Soil testing has not been carried out on the farm, however is one thing Miss Chapple want to do, to watch the results of the grazing system and species planted within the pig rotation.

She would additionally prefer to introduce some native cattle, akin to Longhorns, and mob-graze them forward of the pigs to extend animal influence.

“We [the farm as a whole] haven’t used fertilisers or pesticides for greater than 5 years. We qualify for natural in lots of methods, however due to the rented grazing, we can’t be licensed as natural,” she says.



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