ABC Radio – Dec 2014

Young Dubbo farmers direct-marketing free range pork to their local community

Young farmers and their pastured pigs

Michael and Alex Hicks wanted to be successful young farmers so they decided that direct marketing was the way to go, and they’re now developing a successful operation with free range pasture fed pigs. 

“We wanted to be young farmers and have a profitable farm, so we decided to go with direct marketing”.

Standing in a paddock with Berkshire sows following her every move, Eumungerie central west New South Wales farmer, Alex Hicks says she’s delighted with the progress of her farming enterprise.

When Alex and her husband Michael were considering which strand of livestock production to get into, her lifelong affection for pigs made the choice quite easy.

Hog heaven, the simple pleasures of a relaxing tub

Michael and Alex Hicks wanted to be successful young farmers so they decided that direct marketing was the way to go, and they’re now developing a successful operation with free range pasture fed pigs.

Audio: Pasture fed pigs are in clover say young farmers (ABC Rural)

Their plan has been to run pigs in as natural environment as possible, growing them out and fattening them up before having them slaughtered at a regional abattoir and then marketing the meat themselves.

In the couple of months they’ve been operational, Alex and Michael Hicks have built up a core herd of breeding sows and are developing a local clientele in and around Dubbo.

“That’s as far afield as we want to go,” says Michael Hicks.

“We don’t want to be marketing any further, we want to be selling locally,” she said.

“So we’re selling through the local farmer’s markets and also to local buyers through our website.”

The pigs spend their days, and nights, pottering around sections of the Hick’s small farm, they’re constrained to sectors of the farm by strips of electric fence which are regularly moved to give them access to fresh pasture.

And, like the pigs themselves, their infrastructure is portable as well.

The pigs need water supplies, both for drinking and for wallowing and they need shelter.

So, each time the pig’s boundaries are moved, the water troughs and shelter sheds need to move as well, and that has resulted in some innovation in design.

Recycling, repurposing and reusing are watchwords at Extraordinary Pork, and the Hicks say their favourite shopping ground is the local recycling ‘tip shop’ in Dubbo.

It’s here that they’ve found the 1,000 litre tanks they’ve cut down to make piggy swimming pools, it’s the source of the bicycles and decommissioned wheelchairs which are stripped down to provide the wheels for movement around the farm.

Alex says the resulting infrastructure is not plush or glamorous but it’s serviceable and it recycles discarded items.

“And it keeps the costs down.”

Portable shelters for all the stock

Even the chooks have portable shelters on this farm, and recycling is a theme in the construction; this chook shed is moved around on a set of old wheelchair wheels from a local ‘tip shop’.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-24/young-farmers-are-direct-marketing-free-range-pork-to-their-loc/5913820