Meet the stars of the show
There are no pink pigs here. Pink pigs are ugly says Jono. His pigs are funny and clever and have a lot of character. “I love pigs. If you’re going to look after animals you may as well have animals you like. There’s practical reasons too: they’re hardy, they do much better outside – if you put a pink pig outside it gets sunburnt and dies, whereas the old breeds will tolerate the outdoors and bad weather.”
A pink pig will grow to killing size in just four to five months but it does best indoors and tends to have no fat, a big contributor to good flavour. Jono’s preferred heritage breeds grow much more slowly over 8-9 months, and that’s the big key to his success.
“I’m growing for taste and not for weight gain – I want something that tastes fantastic so I don’t care how long it takes to grow. It’s firmer because it’s got more fat, which most of us accept is healthier nowadays, and it’s got way more flavour.”
The stars of Soggy Bottom include Tamworths, a breed Jono and Sarah first fell in love with when they inherited a Tamworth sow to clear up their garden when they were living in Scotland. At one time there have also been Saddlebacks, Berkshires and Large Blacks (Devons).
“We’ve just stuck with heritage breeds and it’s another point of difference for the business,” says Jono.
“The reason I like Tamworths is that they’re very long so they’re a good bacon breed, and a long nose so they’re good for digging up rough ground. They’re very fast and a little bit crazy when they’re young, like a big shoal of fish which I find amusing.
“Saddlebacks are really good mothers, they’re really gentle – anything with a lop ear tends to be a bit more docile I think, it’s a dopey Labrador kind-of thing. They’re good mothers, nice and easy multi-purpose pigs.
“Berkshires are nice too, they’re small and docile but not great mothers. They don’t have big litters, but the meat is good.”
The growth rate of the Large Black made it appealing, but Jono decided early on it wasn’t right for him.
“The lines of them in New Zealand don’t have good hams, they’ve not got a good bum on them. And you get something in the belly called ‘seedy cut’ where the belly pork has got millions of little black (hair) follicles in it and it doesn’t look very nice when you get that in your bacon.”
The pig families spend most of the year roaming the hilly paddocks, but in winter they head indoors into a warm half-round barn to escape the cold and the sogginess which takes over more than just the bottom of the Walker’s block. It’s so soggy, if Jono had his time
LIFESTYLE IS A WONDERFUL WORD IN ITSELF. It is a combination of two other words that have a lot to do with enjoying things to the fullest and surrounding yourself with quality.
People who live in rural or semi-rural lifestyle environments, or who want their way of life to be reflected in their living environment, tend to be those with definite ideas, strong tastes, and also not afraid to do things a bit differently. They experiment with colour, are au fait with new trends and ideas, and want their home to be the particular ‘canvas’ that reflects their world.
Having the freedom of choice and flexibility of expression is one of the reasons more and more Customkit buildings are being seen on the New Zealand landscape.
Reflecting this flexibility, Customkit offers a range of building options, from the supply of shell-only kitset packages where you can use your own builder, right through to using a Customkit Network Builder who can WITH A CUSTOMKIT kitset building you have the flexibility to decorate and finish the house as you want, even to the extent of doing this yourself.
This customisation capability is a real point of difference, says managing director Michael Anselmi.
“With the option of high cathedral ceilings, LVL portals and feature beams, or a more conventional flat ceiling, Customkit clients love the ability to shape the end-product to suit their unique needs. This is a major point of difference we have over other housing companies.
“We start with an open mind and desire to create homes that reflect their owners. Unlike many other housing
Most farms in NZ run a traditional mix of ryegrass and clover-based pasture, but having high quality legume-based forage available for weaned lambs can pay big dividends.
Professor Paul Kenyon and Dr Rene Corner-thomas from Massey University say trials have shown that with the right legume-based forages, early-weaned lambs (minimum weight 16kg) can grow as fast – if not faster – than their unweaned equivalents grazing with their mothers on traditional ryegrass and clover pastures.
During late lactation all lambs – and especially multiples – receive little nutrition from the ewe, and if growing conditions are tight, ewes are actually competing with their lambs, compromising the performance of both.
But give a weaned lamb unrestricted access to high quality herbage like a mix of chicory, plantain and red and white clover (at least 1400kgdm/ha) and you get a win-win: • lambs finish faster and consume less feed post-weaning; • it is easier to breed from heavier ewe lambs as hoggets and there is flexibility to hold them back later if feed resources are limited; • heavy lambs require fewer animal health remedies and less labour inputs.