Our Organic Pork
Pigs are smart animals: we all know that. They’re also playful, sociable and mischievous. They follow powerful natural instincts that drive them to rootle, wallow, run, bask and nest. And if they’re denied the ability to do these things they become stressed, anxious and aggressive. At Coombe Farm, we’re lucky enough to have a long-standing relationship with a farmer nearby who rears an organic herd of Gloucester Old Spot x Saddleback pigs for us. These are both native breeds that thrive in the conditions we have down in the West Country. They live outdoors all year, with access to pig arks so they can shelter from the rain and sun. Very importantly, all of the sows are allowed to farrow (give birth) outside, so they can indulge in the almost ritualistic nest-building process that their instincts dictate.
Recently, we’ve started a herd at Coombe Farm, too, with weaners (young pigs) supplied by our partner pig farmer. These little pigs come to us after they’re weaned at about 8 weeks old. They live in spacious outdoor paddocks in sociable groups of no more than ten, with animals of a similar age and size. This means they have plenty of room to run about, play, scratch and make muddy wallows.
Living outdoors is obviously vital for the well being of these intelligent creatures, but it’s also vital for the production of top-quality pork. Muscles that have had plenty of active exercise produce flavoursome meat with great texture. And the thick skins that the pigs develop to withstand chilly weather translate into excellent crackling. In industrial systems, pigs are routinely given antibiotics to fend off diseases that are spread due to the high density of the population. This never happens with our organic, outdoor pigs – their lifestyle gives them effective natural immune systems, and their diet of grass, hay and concentrated food helps them grow at the rate nature intended.
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