Located in Tooborac, about one and a half hours out of Melbourne, Jason and Belinda Hagan (no relation) raise and care for their herd of pigs. They are the only producer to supply pork to Hagen’s Organics, and as such, we have developed a strong relationship with this dedicated farming family.
The Hagan’s herd consists predominantly of Berkshire Old Breed and Berkshire cross-bred sows, boars and piglets. Berkshires are said to be ‘Britain’s oldest pig breed’ and can be identified by their black coats, commonly with white markings on their faces (like a blaze), legs and the tips of their tails.
McIvor Farm Foods’ focus is holistic and orientates to the health of the land to ensure the health of the animals (and people) who rely on it.
“We’re really a soil farm, it’s our focus, we just happen to run pigs over our property” Belinda says.
McIvor Farm Foods all about producing nutrient-dense soil that hosts a whole manner of living things which support the ecosystems living above.
Belinda’s background is in agricultural science, specialising in animal nutrition. Jason, who grew up on the family farm in Tooborac, studied farm business management. These two personalities combined, have created an enduring farm ecosystem that supports happy and healthy pigs.
The pigs live their entire lives outside, snuffling and rooting through the soil and wallowing in the mud. They are provided with shelter, water and supplemented with 100% Australian grain diets that are non-GMO and antibiotic free.
The Jason and Belinda’s approach to farming is aligned closely with organic and biodynamic principles. The animals enjoy lives free from antibiotic feeds and harsh grooming practices, instead, they live their entire lives outside, in their social groups, doing what pigs do.
One of the biggest questions we get asked about our pork is how come it’s not certified organic?
Certified organic pork in Australia is a rare, often due to the challenges faced by farmers. For meat to be certified organic, there are a number of rules and regulations that must be adhered to about the way the pig lives, this includes their feed. This states that animals must be fed certified organic feed.
One of the challenges faced by farms such as Belinda and Jason’s is the access to certified organic food. Presently there are no certified organic stockfeed mills in Victoria, therefore feed must be sent down from Queensland, which ultimately blows out the cost. Unfortunately, given the current cost of certified organic feed and the large volumes that pigs need to consume, it is not feasible for farms such as Jason and Belinda’s to operate in a competitive market. It would drive the cost of their product to an unmanageable price for retailers to then sell to the customer, as a result losing the farm’s market share and ultimately taking them out of the race to operate.
In the case of McIvor Farm Foods, the pigs are termed ‘beyond free range’ meaning they enjoy their entire lives outside (rather than being confined to crates) and are not exposed to sow stalls, tail docking or teeth grinding/pulling practices. They eat the bugs and bulbs they turn over in the soil and are supplemented with 100% Australian grain. The farming principles employed to produce the pork are closely aligned with organic principles, however, given they do not eat certified organic feed, they cannot be certified organic.
We support Jason and Belinda’s choice to use 100% Australian grain to supplement the pig's diet when there are challenges in using certified organic grain. We will continue to work with them as they move forward to meet challenges in the pork industry.
The flavour of the pork is exceptional. Old Breed Berkshire pigs grow slowly, creating marbled cuts prized for their delicious juiciness and flavour. This just might be the best ‘crackle’, ham or bacon you ever taste!
For more information visitwww.mcivorfarmfoods.com.au