Happy Pigs, Tastier Pork
Consumers definitely benefit from the satisfaction of a connection with the source of their food, the comfort of knowing that their love of pork doesn’t come at the expense of animal welfare —happy pigs really do taste better!
All our meat is prepared on-site by Lowerfields Farm Butcher – they source the pork from Cameron Naughton from West Farm, Bishop Cannings just up the road. You will see the pigs as you drive from Devizes to Calne on the downs (not far from North Wilts golf course) and can observe them happily snuffling around the hillside.
Cameron was one of the first farmers in the country to sign up for RSPCA Assured – the RSPCA’s higher welfare farm assurance and food labelling scheme. He was determined from the outset to rear his pigs differently. Raised on a farm with a father who helped pioneer outdoor pig breeding in the 1950s, Cameron never strayed far from his pig farming roots.
Taking over the family farm business in 2002, at the picturesque West End Farm near Devizes in Wiltshire, Cameron set about looking for customers who understood what goes into looking after pigs to higher welfare standards and who would be prepared to pay the extra for what Cameron believes is a much higher quality product.
Cameron’s 550 breeding sows produce thousands of piglets during a typical 21-week cycle mostly outdoors in the rolling Wiltshire hills.
A recent success story for Cameron was in persuading a local abattoir (just six miles from his farm) to join RSPCA Assured.
“My pigs now only have to travel a very short distance. This is really important to me because long journeys can be stressful. I know my animals enjoy the best life possible on my farm, but their welfare needs don’t stop when they leave to be transported to the abattoir.”
Cameron believes that higher welfare standards don’t just mean happier pigs but also better quality meat. He firmly believes that the breed is important too.
Cameron rears Hampshires which is a breed that produces good fat marbling in the meat which melts during the cooking process, keeping it moist and imparting flavour. You don’t get flavourful, tender pork without fat.
Cameron also makes a real effort to host visits which often includes chefs and restaurateurs as he feels it’s really important that they see the method of farming pigs in practice so they can appreciate the huge effort which is put into it.
Cameron also sees educating the consumers of tomorrow is really important and has also been hosting GCSE food technology students so that they understand and appreciate the benefits of farming animals well.
For the last five years, there has also been a dynamic change in the way Cameron manages the pig paddocks.
“We rotate the paddocks more frequently than we used to and we’re planting pollen nectar mixes. This has led to an explosion of wildlife with deer, hares, buzzards and kites now regular visitors – along with a carpet of wildflowers attracting masses of bees”.
The pigs obviously benefit because they are allowed to be a pig (and a happy pig, at that!) instead of just a production unit. Like their ancestors, they get to experience sunshine and free movement and exercise their natural instincts.
“After all these years, I still get so much pleasure from farming my animals well. Seeing them able to fully exhibit their natural behaviours – rooting in grass and straw and wallowing in big, natural pools of water – is so satisfying. They are definitely ‘pigs in clover! And with the investment in wildflower planting and more frequent paddock rotation, the environment for all of us is so much better too.”
Try for yourself and order online today from our meat section.