Dawson Valley Free Range

Dawson Valley Free Range

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Too much of a good thing

Well, I never thought that too much green grass would be a problem, but we have come to the realisation recently that green grass makes pigs fat! I thought that it should be like a salad bar and that pigs would be lean and sexy if they ate lots of delicious salad! It turns out that grass is quite high in sugar and therefore is too high in energy, which is not something you want too much of in a pig diet.

For those customers that bought pork off us last fortnight at the markets, you will have noticed that it was a bit fattier. Especially on the bacon, shoulder roasts and the loin chops. I’m really sorry, but there’s not a lot we can do about it, except take them off the grass! That’s a pretty radical move, because after all, we are all about free range, pastured pigs. What’s a pastured pig without the pasture?

Lucky for us, most of our customers are happy enough with the fat and I've been recommending to everyone that they save the fat off the bacon and use it for cooking potatoes or other vegies. Some of our butchers aren't quite so happy! It does make it hard for them to sell the bacon when it has 2cm of fat on it! So, if you are one of our customers or one of the butchers that we sell to customers, please bear with us while we work out what we have to do about reducing the fat.

One of the reasons that we chose the country that we have chosen to run our pigs on, was that it was quite deficient soil. The pig manure and the absolutely fabulous wet season that we are having has started to turn that around. The grass that we are now growing is very lush and green, which equals healthy and full of energy! Over the last few weeks, the grass has really matured and is probably at it’s peak in terms of nutrition. We did cut back the grain ration as we could see that the pigs were eating a lot of grass and they've been gradually getting fatter and fatter. Interestingly enough, they don’t seem to be getting fat from the grain, but the grass. Seems to be the exact opposite with us humans – grains make us fat and salads make us slim!

What are your thoughts on fat? Are you willing to put up with the fat so that the pigs can be predominantly pasture fed, or would you prefer us to reduce the pasture to reduce the fat? We need to meet somewhere in the middle, so it may mean slashing the grass or (preferably) running cattle, sheep or goats ahead of the pigs. All options will mean more work for us!! But hopefully things will settle down as the season moves into winter and the grass is not so green.