My lit­tle pig­gies go to mar­ket (and I go waah, waah, waah all the way home)

Vege­tar­ian farmer re­veals her tears for lost pork­ers

The Sunday Post (Dundee) - - Exclusive - mail@sun­day­ By Judy Vick­ers

A VEGE­TAR­IAN pig farmer has re­vealed her heartache over send­ing her pork­ers off to the big butcher shop in the sky.

Michelle An­der­son-Car­roll is told the sausages and ba­con from her rare breed pig­gies are de­li­cious, but she’ll never know.

And, she ad­mits, if some of her beloved Ox­ford Sandy and Blacks look re­luc­tant when be­ing sent off to slaugh­ter, they win a re­prieve.

She said: “We never put them un­der pres­sure or stress. If they won’t load, they don’t go.”

And she ad­mits feel­ing heart­bro­ken and a lit­tle tear­ful when they do head off.

“At the slaugh­ter-house they go down a cor­ri­dor on a mov­ing floor and around a cor­ner to be stunned so they are none the wiser – but it is still very hard.”

While it may seem an odd ca­reer choice for a vege­tar­ian, she says it is pre­cisely be­cause she is so keen on an­i­mal wel­fare that she has become a pig farmer.

She gave up meat when she was 11 in re­sponse to the out­cry over the poor con­di­tions and long jour­neys for an­i­mals be­ing trans­ported to slaugh­ter.

A for­mer NHS reg­is­tered op­er­at­ing depart­ment prac­ti­tioner, she and her hus­band bought 20 acres of land near In­ver­ness three years ago and turned it into River Croft farm af­ter she re­ceived a lit­i­ga­tion pay-out.

She said: “We got a cou­ple of pigs to help turn over the soil and im­prove it.

“I fell com­pletely in love with them so we started to breed them. I’m just a pi­ga­holic now.

“If I wanted to eat meat, I wouldn’t hes­i­tate to eat ours.

“I have tried to eat meat now and then over the last few years but I just don’t like the tex­ture.

“But I am a re­al­ist. There is no chance on earth peo­ple are go­ing to stop eat­ing meat and I would rather they ate meat like ours rather than mass-pro­duced pork be­cause the con­di­tions those pigs live in is ap­palling.”

The 45-year-old picked Ox­ford Sandy and Blacks be­cause they are hairy, hardy and tough enough to sur­vive out­doors in the High­lands.

“They are per­fect for be­gin­ners – they are re­ally docile for pigs.

“Our boar rolls over like a dog to have his belly scratched.

“They look great so that helps to en­gage the pub­lic in what I am try­ing to do – they look like they are wear­ing on­sies.

“There are only around 300 in ex­is­tence so there are more pan­das on the planet than there are of these sort of pigs.

“With­out a food out­let they wouldn’t have a pur­pose – they would become ex­tinct.”

Only a hand­ful of farm­ers in Scot­land keep the breed these days but while they might have fallen out of fashion in favour of cheaper, more in­ten­sively pro­duced pork, they may well be mak­ing a come­back.

“I sold 42 piglets this sea­son, which was 15 short of what peo­ple were ask­ing for – I can’t keep up with de­mand,” Michelle says.

And de­spite her vege­tar­ian cre­den­tials, she uses her pigs to ed­u­cate young­sters who visit the farm about where their meat comes from.

“We get them to point to the bit of the pig where the ba­con comes from.

“Peo­ple of­ten say, ‘Urgh, I don’t want to know about that’, but you should know.”

We never stress them. If they won’t load, they don’t go.

Michelle with one of her beloved piglets on the farm last week.

Michelle’s Ox­ford Sandy and Blacks play with a sheep down on the farm.

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