For landlords who are unsure about having outdoor breeding pigs on their land then read the story of Adrian Howes (Estate Manager) and Guy King (owner of GSK pigs).
Adrian manages a 4500 acre arable farm which is part of an 8000 acre estate in Norfolk. The farm is part of the Higher Level Stweardship (HLS) scheme and grows wheat, barley, rape and vining peas as their main crops but also lets out land for root crop. Much of the land is light, poor yielding and free draining. Adrian had been approached multiple times about allowing pigs on the land but had not been tempted to allowing them on the farm. After a couple of years of drought like conditions Adrian decided to look at pigs again and made contact with BQP.
After BQP discussed the breeding production system and the way they produced pigs for Waitrose, Adrian was put in contact with Guy. After further discussions, Adrian and the estate owner visited Guy’s unit to see if it would fit in with the estates business plan.
They were very impressed with the way Guy’s unit was managed, the tidiness, attention to detail and the focus on environmental issues. The fields that the pigs inhabit undergo an environmental assessment, to ensure they are managed in the most environmentally friendly way, which is a very important aspect for farms in HLS. Adrian knew that the pigs would have no effect on compliance or the single farm payment, and, in spring 2011 Guy moved his 1000 sow breeding herd onto the site.
“By having pigs on the poorer land my yields have increased on the poorer land and greatly reduced the need for expensive fertilisers. It is a steady income meaning the farm is less vulnerable to changes in the market such as cereal prices or weather conditions affecting yields. I have been really impressed by the little impact pigs have had on the soil structure, yet they do a great job of removing weeds and volunteer plants such as potatoes. There is no noise, no mess, no smell, no flies – I hardly know they are there.”