Pig producers ready to take their enterprise to the next level have been taking advantage of a series of butchery courses organised by Menter Moch Cymru (MMC).
Tailored to the needs of pig producers in Wales – the practical courses have enabled attendees to add value to their produce and learn new skills to benefit their businesses.
From ‘Practical Pig Butchery’, ‘Curing & Sausage Making’ to ‘Charcuterie for Beginners’ the project has held a number of sessions throughout Wales as part of its commitment to providing pig producers with access to expert training.
One such example of a business that has been helped by the project is Forest Coalpit Farm. When Kyle Holford and Lauren Smith moved from London to Forest Coalpit Farm near Abergavenny in 2015 they had a keen interest in food, but no agricultural experience.
Now, with training and advice from MMC, the couple has established a thriving enterprise with a rapidly growing customer base for their award-winning pork – and were awarded a Great Taste Award in 2018.
Keen to learn from others, Kyle has attended several study tours and courses organised by MMC, including:
- Practical Pig AI
- Pig Finishing
- Health Planning
- Pig Nutrition
- Improving Piglet Survival
- Certificate of Competency for the Welfare of Pigs in Transit
Following a MMC Butchery and Curing course at Food Centre Wales, Kyle and Lauren opened their on-farm processing unit. There they process the meat from their free-range herd of Large Black x Duroc ‘Welsh Black’ pigs, which roam the 20-acre holding’s pasture and woodland.
Currently, nine pigs a week are sent to slaughter at a small local abattoir. Some are sold wholesale with an average of 4 pigs a week being processed by Lauren in the butchery and sold to restaurants or through internet sales.
Says Kyle, "Through Menter Moch Cymru I have been able to learn invaluable skills from some of the best pig vets and nutritionists in the country which has helped me run a productive pig farm despite keeping rare breed pigs outdoors".
As part of MMC’s commitment to continued support, Kyle and Lauren have also received a visit from a food technologist to review their products and processes, provide new product development advice and help taste test some lines.
Following the recent visit, Lauren explains, “Nothing beats having a one-to-one with a food technologist who really knows their stuff - everything from labelling and pricing, butchery and curing and consumer trends – amazing.”
In turn, the couple has kindly acted as hosts for MMC events, including a farm tour for a group of London chefs and helping Welsh vets gain hands-on experience as part of the MMC & Wales Veterinary Science Centre’s CPD programme.
Kyle adds, “The MMC project offers a range of support programmes that we’ve found really valuable for our business. I’d definitely encourage pig keeps in Wales to take advantage of the support available – there’s something for everyone!”
According to Melanie Cargill, Menter Moch Cymru Project Manager, “Kyle and Lauren demonstrate that with the right support, keeping pigs can be a viable option whether you are looking to diversify your farm business or are completely new entrants to the farming industry.”
“The Menter Moch Cymru project offers a range of support programmes and training opportunities to suit any pig enterprise; whether a small herd or a large commercial scale unit.”
The Menter Moch Cymru project is funded by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014 -2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.
For more information about Menter Moch Cymru visit www.mentermochcymru.co.uk.