Meet the stars of the show

NZ Lifestyle Block - - NOTEBOOK -

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.

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