Our very small pig enterprise is housed at Bridge Farm, at the South end of Seamer village and adjacent to the butchery. It comprises a small herd of Gloucester Old Spot sows and gilts, and a Pietrain boar. This cross gives a good conformation, gentle, spotty(!!), hardy piglet, that grows steadily on a straw and low protein diet to produce flavoursome, traditional pork.
Our Old Spot sows live inside, in small groups, in deep straw kennels. Pigs are naturally clean animals, and will carry straw into their sleeping quarters to make comfy beds. When it is time for the sows to farrow, they sculpt the straw to create deep nests, which keep the newborn piglets close to her and the milk bar. This is innate natural behaviour and a long way from crates, bare concrete floors and tethers. We get the occasional overlay of a piglet, when the sow flops down to let the piglets suckle, but overall the quality of life for our pigs far outweighs their intensively kept cousins.
The piglets are weaned at around 10 weeks old, or when they are up to weight, and live in groups amongst the straw. We do not tail dock or clip teeth, as we have no problem with tail biting or fighting. Porkers have too many other things to do! Larger nuts are thrown in amongst the clean straw so that the pigs have to root for their dinner. They can munch on straw or snooze next to their pals and they always have the choice of whether to remain outside in the slatted sunshine of the Yorkshire boarded building, or in the cool of their kennels..