Thursday, January 29, 2009

New free range piglets at Fordhall

Perfectly timed with the airing of Jamie Oliver's programe - "Jamie Saves our Bacon" promoting free range pork production - is the birth of 9 healthy Gloucester Old Spot pigs at Fordhall Farm in Shropshire. Pictured above with mum in their ark near the farm shop, these little piglets are strong and healthy and as soon as their little legs can carry them, we are sure they will venture into the paddock to get their first glimpse of the outside world.

It is a fantastic feeling each time new life is brought on to the farm knowing that our animals are growing up in their most natural environment and that they are happy. Not only is this great for the pig, it also makes for a happy farmer and the meat tastes better too! That extra bit of fat on the free-range Gloucester Old Spot pork and bacon is a clear indication that they have been allowed to mature slower outdoors. The fat is also what gives the meat its fantastic flavour in cooking and provides unbeatable crackling to boot. If you want to see the piglets at Fordhall then please do come down to the farm shop on wednesdays, fridays, saturday-sunday to take a look.

Below is some information that may help you understand some of the different pig production systems out there.


Free-range pigs live outside and sleep in small metal huts filled with straw. Only 4% of our pigs have this sort of good life but half our breeding sows are free-range. Although there is no legal definition of 'free-range pork' the RSPCA believes that the term 'free-range' should only be used where the pig (and the sow that bred the pig) has been kept outside for its entire life, in paddocks with plenty of space to move around and soil to root in.

Outdoor-bred pigs are born outside and transported to a 'finishing' unit after approximately three or four weeks. This is usually an indoor barn that can have varying welfare levels.
The RSPCA believes that the term 'outdoor-bred' should only apply to pork when the animal has been transferred to a finishing system that provides plenty of straw and has a mostly solid floor. Pigs like straw because it allows them to behave naturally. They root in it and sows use it to build nests.

In the UK, indoor sows are kept in groups then moved to individual farrowing crates about a week before they are due to give birth. Farrowing crates are restrictive pens, which prevent the sow from turning around and which aim to reduce the risk of the sow lying on and crushing her piglets. They usually remain in these farrowing crates until their piglets are weaned at about 4 weeks old. Once weaned, the piglets are transferred to a variety of different indoor systems, which provide varying levels of welfare.

Fordhall Farm and the Fordhall Community Land Initiative are also supporting the programme soon to be shown on More 4 called 'Pig Business'. This documentary tells the story of our imported pork, much of which comes from places like Poland, who have vastly different welfare standards to our own. For more information click here

Friday, January 23, 2009

Farmhouse Breakfast Week 2009

Next week is national Farmhouse Breakfast week 2009 which looks to increase awarenesss of the most important meal of the day - Breakfast! The campaign aims to encourages people nto start the day with a healthy nutritional breakfast as part of a balanced and active lifestyle.

Obviously local produce is very much part of this campaign, so why not start the day with delicious Fordhall Farm goodies...bacon....saususages....the list is endless! So why not pop down to the farm shop this weekend and get next week off to a great start?


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The future of our Pork! - Pig Business

At Fordhall we pride ourselves on producing high quality meat to high standards, but this not the case for all pig producing farms, particularly outside the UK.

In the coming weeks there will be alot of press around the varied rearing standards and methods of pig production that ends up on the shelves of British supermarkets. Britain has some of the highest welfare standards in the world for animal welfare, but much imported meat from Europe and beyond does not meet this standard.

The first film to tackle this issue has been produced and presented by Tracey Worcester and will be shown on More 4 on February 3rd at 10pm called 'Pig Business'. This is a fantastic film and should be watched by everyone - please tell your friends. The Fordhall Community Land Initiative and Fordhall Farm are actively supporting this campaign.

"By avoiding pork from corporations and investing that money in human scale production, we are revitalising small farms and their farm shops, farmers markets and local butchers. If shopping in the supermarket we must seek out labels that indicate British and outside bred and reared or free range on straw bedding."

For more information on Pig Business click here

At Fordhall our Gloucester Old Spot pigs range free all year round, and rotate around paddocks close to the farm. They can be seen from our nature trail and picnic area in the summer, this way you can see exactly where your pork comes from.

Other campaigns will also be happening through 2009. To see information on Jamie Oliver's campaign click here

Please help us improve the welfare of our pigs. Care about what you buy and where you buy it from.

Friday, January 09, 2009

January welcomes new arrivals at Fordhall Farm

We have been back at work less than a week and already exciting things are happening on the farm! The Sunday after Christmas saw one of our hens gave birth to six little chicks…We weren't expecting this at all, but it was a really lovely surprise.

Hope that you like the picture - can you spot the yellow fluffy chick?


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Happy New Year from all at Fordhall Farm

Just a quick blog to wish you all a 'Happy New Year' from a cold, snowy Shropshire.

We hope that 2009 will bring lots of new exciting projects for Fordhall after a fantastic 2008. We hope 2009 will see many of you here again but if you have never visited us before then why not make that your New Years resolution? Hint Hint....

Keep warm.