I am such a sucker for cute baby farm animals. So when Phil Stringer from Tamworth Flyers mentioned that his sows had just had a batch of piglets that week, I was out there! Pronto!
Well, that was not the only reason. Tamworth Flyers had been on my radar for a little while. I had heard the words ‘free range’ and ‘ethical’ mentioned in association with ‘pork’ and ‘bacon’ and decided it needed further exploration.
Now, the words ‘free range’ get bandied about a bit when it comes to pork and pig farming which leads me to conclude that some farmers are in serious need of a dictionary so that they may be enlightened as to what that actually means.
Phil Stringer, however, needs no enlightening, nor a dictionary. He not only knows the true meaning, he has added his own definition.
These are Phil’s words…
“If only the prominent appearance of the ‘free’ word meant more than a minor detour from the intensive animal husbandry path. If only we realised that for a pig to act freely, she needs a setting she would choose herself.
“For pigs are creatures of the forest. And our beautiful purebred Tamworth pigs are much happier under the shade of a banana or wattle tree than a tin shed (they can’t eat the shed for a start!). They appear to delight in gathering all the materials they need to build their nests. They get to express their creativity and individuality in where they choose to site their nests, and how they build them.”
And they are not just words, they are backed up with actions, and his pigs experience exactly as described.
Let me backtrack a bit.
Tamworth Flyers is based at Mothar Mountain, just south of Gympie. The property where Phil grazes his pigs is unique in that it is pretty much free range too. There is no confined cultivation going on here, it’s kind of an ‘everything is as it should be’ kind of property. You are not going to find manicured lawns or topiary fruit trees, and you are especially not going to find confined or enslaved animals.
What you will find is wild tussocks of lush grass, patches of cassava, taro and other tubers, grown especially for his piggies.
His pigs, Tamworths, a less common ginger breed originating from the UK, live in a paradise. The sows get brought offerings of all of the above to enjoy… it is their bonus for producing the 16 piglets, which I might add, are absolutely gorgeous!
Phil is not greedy. To ensure that the he maintains the quality of his property, he only has the 3 sows and their progeny… and Charles Kingsford, the handsome boar, who looked to me, quite proud of his bountiful offspring… he has been a busy boy. They have plenty of space to roam free and are moved from one plot to another so as to not tax the land too much. Pigs, left to their own devices, uproot the earth, foraging vigorously for succulent tubers, many of which Phil has planted for them, for that exact purpose. So they can make a bit of a mess… but Phil has it covered. He also grazes cattle, which follow from plot to plot, evening out the land that the pigs so vigorously uproot – what a great system!