Breeding – Good breeding produces Great Pork!

All of our pigs are bred and born outside. The breeds that we use are a careful mix to ensure they are suitable for outside production, they deliver on taste, and they make good mummies.

Our sows are a Landrace x Duroc x Large White. The Landrace means that we produce pigs with a longer loin – the most valuable part of the pig. The Duroc is specific for outdoor production as it has a hardy skin which protects against sunburn in summer and grows a fur to keep warm in winter. This hardy skin also makes for great crackling!

The Duroc is also well known for its intramuscular fat or “marbling” which of course gives amazing flavour and succulence.

The Large White is a large, lean breed with big hams and so whilst the Duroc delivers the intramuscular fat and flavour, the mixing with the Large White means that we don’t get too much back fat on our pigs and we get a good meat yield and uniformity which is what our customers want, a good consistent product.

The boar that we use is the Optimus. He is a very muscular, lean breed which gives lovely big eye muscles on your pork chops.

He also produces good strong piglets, which when using free range farming methods is a big tick in the box.

Welfare is an important part of tasty pork

Our number 1 priority at Anna’s, is the welfare of our pigs and to ensure this we only work with people who share our values.

Our entire set up is based on our welfare standards and this is why we are limited to how many free range pigs we can produce. For free range pigs you need the right sandy, free draining land but equally as important you need the right people. We are very lucky to work with some outstanding stockmen who share our beliefs but they are few and far between out there so if you or anyone you know think you have what it takes and share our values get in touch!

We first introduced pigs into the business to make more direct use of the grain grown on the farm and to put fertility back into the soil. As a result, Anna’s Happy Trotters are fed a balanced and nutritious diet of natural and locally produced ingredients. Our pig feed does not contain any antibiotic growth promoters.

Although our pigs are kept outside they all have access to shelter and warm straw bedding. This shelter provides shade from the sun in summer and a nice cosy house in winter. Pigs create a lot of heat so when they all bed down together they’re super snug and warm. All of our accommodation is adaptable so that we can create more ventilation in summer and more heat in winter.

If it gets super hot out there then we can create wallows on the floor for the pigs – they just love it! Pigs cannot sweat so this is the best way for them to cool down by wallowing in glorious mud!

Because we are red tractor assured this means that we have four vet visits per year. These vet visits ensure that our pigs are well and healthy and the vet will be assessing if there are any improvements that we can make to benefit the pigs. Happy, healthy pigs make for better productive pigs so it is in everyone’s interests that they are happy piggies! We are also audited independently by a Red Tractor auditor.

As well as Red Tractor we are Freedom Food Accredited which involves standards set down by the RSPCA. The criteria is based on the “Five Freedoms”:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst
  2. Freedom from discomfort
  3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease
  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour
  5. Freedom from fear and distress

Free Range

After four weeks the piglets are weaned from their mothers and put into the paddocks with the tents which they share with about 100 other pigs.

Each paddock is an acre so 100 pigs have a vast amount of space to share. The pigs will be checked every day and bedded up as and when needed. Some winters are worse than others so in recent winters there has been A LOT of bedding up to do!

Feeders are also checked every day to make sure there is plenty of feed for the pigs to help themselves to – they have unrestricted access to food and water. To start with the pigs are fed quite a milky feed called “Creep” to help with gut development having come off mum’s lovely milk. They just love it. The diet is changed steadily, much like us humans, to help their development and make sure they have all the nutrients they need. They do get lots of goodness through rooting in the ground though – lots of minerals!

The pigs will remain here for approximately 5 months before being taken just a couple of miles up the road to our straw yard “hub” for selection and then on to our local abattoir just 18 miles away by a Red Tractor and Freedom Foods approved haulier.