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All about pasture raised pork

What is pasture raised pork?


pasture raised pigs foraging
Large Black pigs on pasture

Alongside the chicken we source, pork is another meat product we sell as "pasture raised". This is an example of a product that can't come under a "100% grass fed" categorisation such as our beef and lamb. Aside from the reason that pigs actually eat very little grass, their diet isn't wholly sourced from the pastures alone, where we might be able to call them 100% pasture fed if that were the case.


Pigs are omnivores that forage for their food by rooting up areas of ground to eat roots, nuts, worms and various other plants they can find. These are great sources of energy untouched by many other farm animals which pigs can thrive on. Our standard for a pasture raised pig is one that is kept upon diverse fields and woodlands, and they are regularly moved to ensure they are always on fresh ground, therefore with regular and abundant wild forage.


Alongside this, the pigs are fed some supplementary food to ensure they have all of the calories they need, within this soya free mix is rapeseed meal, wheat, peas and various other UK grown grains, many of which are locally sourced. It is key that the pasture raised pork we sell is grown sustainably on healthy diets as well as being treated to the highest welfare.


pasture raised piglet on grass
Redwoods Farm Piglet


Without any additional feed, the fast growing that young pigs do and adult sows that need to raise large litter of pigs will struggle off the pasture alone. You may wonder how Wild Boar manage without any additional feeds. However the domesticated pig has been bred to be able to feed waste food to recuperate that food source for harder times. During medieval times it was common for one, or several families to feed a pig all of the food that wasn't edible, scraps and more to fatten a pig for the winter. Wild Boar, as a wild animal, will go through periods when food is scarce which could lead them undernourished but able to manage, to maintain the highest welfare it is important no pig is going hungry at the farm.


Does pastured and outdoor raised pork taste better?


One of the benefits of producing pigs outdoors in a pastured system, is that the flavour, texture and nutritional content of the pork excels in every aspect over indoor, lower welfare systems, and also over standard free-range pigs. The main reasons for this is due to the mixed vegetation within the regenerative pastures. Pigs may not eat huge quantities of grass, but they love trying sunflowers, apples, peas (pods, plant and all) and so much more. All of this nutritional mix of natural food means that quality energy and flavour stored in the pig fat is retained to make for the perfect cuts of meat. You will notice much of our pasture raised pork is a richer red than the more pale pink supermarket pork and some free-range pork. Likewise with our pasture raised chicken, where the high grass consumption in the chickens diet causes the skin to become a golden yellow, notably in the chicken breast.


Free range systems typically do not offer the same quality diet as pasture raised pigs owing to how the free-range pigs only forage from the same area day after day. Generally the land cannot continue to offer a sustained level of food for the pigs. Despite this, genuine free range is a great bonus to the welfare and quality of life of a pig.


Using pasture raised pigs in land management


For regenerative farmers, pigs are a great animal to use in land management as they well quite literally plough up fields when required, furthermore, they are good at clearing out unwanted plants when they can get under the roots. This eliminates any need for machinery that would burn fossil fuels in order to remove weed filled areas. The farmer can go over an area that the pigs have recently turned and sow a diverse mix of seeds which will massively improve the quality of the soil. This builds a various plants attracting an array of pollinators, and also act as a wider mix of nutrients for the next generation of pigs to benefit from, this is what happens at Redwoods Farm where we buy our pork, and you can really see the difference in the landscape, and the quality of the soils is much improved.


Winter season feed


Like all warm blooded animals, trying to keep ourselves warm means we are burning calories. So during the winter the pigs are likely to be eating more of their feed due to the temperature drop and also the reduction in the abundance of other food sources.



To combat this, by carefully manging the land, the pigs can still eat from food sources preserved from summer such as silage. Other benefits to raising pigs naturally outdoors is they will more than likely have taken on more fat than commercial pigs which are expected to stay a lot more lean due to customer and supermarket demand. However, a good fat covering is an excellent insulator against the cold which keeps these pigs a lot warmer, reducing their requirements for perhaps a little less feed during the winter.


Overall, we expect pasture raised pigs to definitely have a place in the future of the farming industry, their environmental benefits, expected higher welfare and the exceptional tasting pork that comes as a result, makes them fit well into a regenerative farm.






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