What the pig farmer wishes you knew

Pig farmer Tom Lockwood
Tom Lockwood

Tom Lockwood, who looks after 2,000 pigs on his farm in Talaton, Devon, dispels a few myths and reveals what he wishes the public knew

FARMERS ARE VERY FOND OF THEIR ANIMALS

I wish people knew how much affection farmers have for their stock and the care that goes into looking after the animals. We feed them, check on them and bed them up every day; we’re totally responsible for their welfare.

You sometimes see stories in the media suggesting that farmers don’t care about the animals because they are ultimately going to be slaughtered, but that’s just not the case. I’m very fond of my pigs – I always say hello to them when I go in the pen.

BUYING BRITISH MEANS HIGHER WELFARE

We have the best animal welfare standards of anywhere in the world and it would be good for people to know that – and make the link between the origin of the meat they buy and animal welfare. Our welfare standards are higher than elsewhere in the EU and the Red Tractor logo is a useful indicator of meat being British and reared according to high standards.

WHAT HIGH WELFARE REALLY MEANS

Good welfare for pigs means a clean run and plenty of space to eat, drink, lie down and root around. Our pigs are also finished on straw, but I’m personally not convinced that makes a huge difference to the pigs.

PIGS AREN’T DIRTY ANIMALS

I think the idea that they’re dirty comes from their fondness for wallowing in mud, but they’re actually very clean animals by nature – cleaner than sheep or cattle. If you have a pen full of pigs, they’ll only dung in one corner. They’re also hugely inquisitive.

SLAUGHTERHOUSES ARE VERY REGULATED

Much of the stuff you see on social media about slaughterhouses comes from other countries. UK abattoirs and slaughterhouses are highly regulated: there’s always a vet present and everything is monitored to make the process as humane as possible.

YOU CAN EAT ALMOST EVERY PART OF A PIG

There is very little waste.

It’s important to me who I sell pork to, so I can be sure it’s treated well after all the care that’s gone into rearing the pigs. Darts Farm sells our pork and they do a great job of making the link between the farmer, the butcher and the customer. It’s also nice to see your stock sold locally and to get feedback from people who have bought the pork and enjoyed it.

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