The Difference in Pasture Raised Pork
According to Pork Australia, around 90 per cent of Australian pigs are housed indoors, often referred to as factory farms, for each stage of their life. Our pasture raised free range pork is different.
Pasture raised pork describes pork that has come from pigs that are:
- Raised outdoors and have unlimited access to fresh pasture.
- Obtain a significant benefit from the pastures they are raised on, are able to root and forage, and express their natural pig instincts.
- Receive supplementary feed and self regulate when and how much they eat.
- Experience rotational grazing on pastures that have not been depleted below 40% ground cover (to dirt and dust).
- Are part of a herd where the stocking density does not exceed the welfare standard 20-25 pigs per hectare.
- The animals are provided with shade and shelter which they are free to access at any time.
- No mating stalls or farrowing crates.
The Ethical Farmers sell pasture raised, free range pork from our friends at Melanda Park on the banks of the Hawkesbury River.
At any one time, Melanda Park will only have 160 sows on their farm which they divide into 8 groups of 15 depending on their developmental stage. Those 15 sows then share 2 hectares of pasture and a couple of Maremma sheepdogs for protection. These conditions far exceed the minimal welfare standard set out in the free range guidelines.
Not all free range farms are the same. To be sure of the life quality of the animal, look for clear information on the brand’s website to determine their definition of free range to ensure you are getting the meat quality you believe you are paying for.
Where to Buy Pasture Raised Pork
We stock Melanda Park pasture raised pork at our on farm butchery in Dungog, New South Wales. We offer free home to delivery providing you are in one of our delivery areas and reach our minimum spend amounts.
If you are interested in adopting a nose-to-tail, whole animal approach to eating, our 1/4 pig shares are a great way to more consciously and sustainably consume pork meat. If we are out of stock, we will have shares in stock again soon. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a share.
What does Bred Free Range Mean?
This type of labelling can be easily confused with Free Range Pork but it is different. Bred Free Range means the pigs were born in a free range environment (that is their mother lives in a free range environment but once weaned the piglets are raised indoors either in large open sheds with straw bedding called ‘ecoshelters’ or in pens on concrete floors as in conventional pig farming systems like ‘loose housing’.
What is the definition of Sow-stall Free Pork and Loose Housing?
Sow-stall Free Pork refers to pigs that have come from indoor group housing not stalls. Since 2017 pork from Australian producers is sow-stall free. 95% of pork raised in Australia comes from Loose Housing farming.
Loose Housing means:
- A sow can be placed in a mating stall for up to 5 days to mate. These stalls have enough room for the male and female pig to mate and are used to protect the sow, in conventional farming, from other sows during the early stages of fertilisation.
- Once the sow leaves the mating stall until until one week before she gives birth/farrows (about 115 days) she lives in loose housing. The size of the housing only requires enough room for the sow to turn around and extend her limbs. The sow may be a pen with other sows (enough room for each) or an individual pen.
- At one week before giving birth/farrowing until the piglets are weaned (about 5 weeks in total), the sow is placed in a farrowing pen (also called farrowing crates). These pens are designed to limit the sow from moving so piglets aren’t accidentally squashed. Farrowing pens are a concern for the industry and animal rights groups but to date no alternative within the conventional farming industry has been successfully developed to eliminate or replace them.
- After weaning her piglets, sows are typically on heat within a few days and will return back to a mating stall.
Did you know? 70% of Boneless Pork sold in Australia is Imported.
Boneless pork is the pork predominantly used to make bacon and hams. While Australia’s system for raising pigs is far from perfect, the conditions for pigs grown overseas is generally worse.
We should commit to buying pork raised in Australian, and sustainably consuming the animal by embracing a nose to tail approach to eating—this will reduce the demand on imported boneless pork.