As an independent butcher we rely on a close working relationship with our suppliers and farmers to ensure quality, continuity, and good welfare.
How do we ensure that our pork is the best it can be?
It might sound obvious, but ultimately a butcher cannot ensure quality, continuity and good welfare if they keep changing their suppliers. We have worked with Piercy’s Farm up at Easingwold for about 14 years.
The Piercys understand exactly what we’re looking for, and select our pork every single week. So, what’s our brief?
- We insist on gilts – female pigs – which are a particular size for our purposes. (Boar pigs can be poorer quality, and can have an undesirable flavour, so generally they head to the supermarket shelves.)
- We like our gilts slightly larger and older as this develops flavour, a good fat level and excellent eating quality.
- The pig breed we favour is a special combination of Landrace/Large White with the ginger Duroc.
What goes on at the farm?
All the piglets are born outside in a straw-bedded shelter in the field.
They are weaned and will then go into a communal field shelter with other pigs.
Eventually the come into a large barn with straw bedding which allows them to ‘root’ and display natural instincts.
If the pigs didn’t have this, it can cause anxiety and fighting and has a negative effect on the quality of the meat.
Who checks that things are being done properly? What do all the logos mean?
All Piercy’s pigs are ‘Farm Assured’ which allows them to carry the Red Tractor logo. The accreditation which carries the most weight for us, however, is the fact that Piercy’s pigs also receive the RSPCA Assured accreditation (formerly known as RSPCA Freedom Foods accreditation).
This is a much more rigid standard than Red Tractor, and it is imperative for us to know that we always receive a high welfare animal. It’s worth noting that while all RSPCA Assured pigs must be ‘farm assured’, very few ‘farm assured’ manage to be RSPCA Assured.
There is a lot of confusion over the many logos, accreditation schemes, certificates etc, and the only way for us to be sure we are getting what we want, is to have an open working relationship with our farmers. This is why we visit our farms and bring our team with us.
What impact does understanding provenance have on our team?
Visiting our farms gives us and our team confidence that there are genuinely no smoke and mirrors when it comes to our supply; and we can pass this information on to our customers.
Swapping the butcher’s sturdy boots for a pair of wellingtons and squelching through the farm is a major part of appreciating provenance and supply.
We need our customers to have faith in our selection process, and this is only achieved by knowing exactly where our meat comes from and how it is raised.