It’s all change again at Eastleach Downs.
We have new help on the farm in the form of Elly who joined us in September after 10 years of
working with milking cows. The sows are working hard to convince her that they are much more
A year on, we are producing our own pig feed and trialling different protein crops on the land here.
We have had some success with White Lupins (L. Albus) this year, which tolerate our soil much better
than the Blue Lupins (L.augustifolius) did last year. These plants could be invaluable for inclusion in
pig diets as they contain all the essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein).
We are continuing with ‘dual cropping’ which means planting two or more species of plant in each
field, this has the advantage of weed suppression as well as increased biodiversity. We can harvest
and feed many different varieties of cereal and protein crops together to make a complete diet for
the pigs. Of course, they always have access to our herbal leys for grazing too!
Our new Farm Information Hub opened at Easter and has been a great success. We have hosted
business meetings, a journalist from Japan with Compassion in World Farming, GCSE Food and
Nutrition students and many others are interested in how we farm the land and keep our pigs.
Originally opened on Fridays and at the Weekends, we opened every day during the school holidays.
We will revert to Friday and Weekend opening over the Winter (but will still open every day during
school holidays). Our Tramper (electric all-terrain mobility vehicle) is available to borrow for use on the farm paths – just ask to book!
Currently, we are planting wildflower margins around most of the fields which everyone using our
farm paths will be able to enjoy next spring.
There are now fewer herds producing high-quality pork in a sustainable way and with an animal
welfare focus. We are in the process of expanding the herd to meet the increased demand for our
Extremely high feed prices and the loss of many small local abattoirs have meant that it is harder for
British farmers to compete with imports from Europe. The animal welfare standards of these
European farms are often far below those adopted by farmers here – carefully reading labels has
never been so important!
As always, our message is “eat less, eat better meat”. Buy the best you can afford and read up about
the different labels and what they mean. Organic is the only guarantee that the pigs have been
allowed to express their natural behaviours for their entire lives.