ShapeShapeauthorShapechevroncrossShapeShapeShapeGrouphamburgerhomeGroupmagnifyShapeShapeShaperssShape

Free-range pork by post

by 5m Editor
29 July 2004, at 12:00am

UK - A Suffolk farmer has set up a mail-order business to meet the growing demand for his special free-range pork.

JSR Genetics on ThePigSite.com

Blythburgh Free Range Pork is produced by Jimmy Butler from pigs roaming free under a unique system on light, sandy heathland around Blythburgh, near Southwold on the north Suffolk coast, which provides some of the best land for outdoor pig-keeping in the whole of the UK.

Until now the pork has been sold through specialist butchers and caterers throughout the south and east of England. It has proved so popular - Delia Smith specifically requested this pork for her catering chef at Norwich City Football Club - Jimmy had to think of a way of making it readily available to consumers in other parts of the country.

Unlike most free-range reared pigs, Jimmy Butler's spend all of their lives outside and have 80 times more space to run around in than conventionally reared pigs. This, he says, is reflected in the quality of the meat.
What makes this pork so special? Well, Jimmy Butler gives a number of reasons. Firstly, unlike most free-range systems - where growing pigs, destined for meat, range freely. He's calculated that they have 80 times the space of conventionally-reared pigs and are not confined to huts and runs. Instead, each group of 80 have an acre in which to roam.

They make good use of it, too, he says. "They gallop around the paddocks like miniature racehorses and I'm sure this contributes to the muscle development and tenderness of the meat."

The breed of pig adds to the flavour, he says. JSR Cotswold Gold sows are a blend of lines, including traditional breeds, specially bred to thrive under outdoor conditions. Jimmy runs 1200 of these sows on 120 acres in addition to the 75 acres utilised by the growing pigs.

Going national - Pauline and Jimmy Butler with a pack of free range pork products in their Suffolk farmhouse. Demand has been so great they are now offering it through a mail order service.
The pigs are fed a natural diet containing no antibiotics or growth promoters. They are grown about 20 per cent slower than normal pig production which makes the animals more mature at slaughter - which again contributes to the juiciness and flavour of the meat.

Being exposed to the sun and weather maintains the pig's skin in better condition leading to superior crackling on roasting joints, he says.

Finally, particular care is taken at slaughter. When the pigs reach 105 kg they are sent to a local independent abattoir in Norwich where they are rested in strawed pens overnight to ensure they are not stressed. After the carcases have been allowed to 'set' they are sent to Bramfield Meats - an old established family firm, just three miles from the Butler's farm at Mells, near Blythburgh - where they are skilfully and hygienically processed.

With the help of a 310,000 grant from the Meat and Livestock Commission, Jimmy Butler thoroughly researched the market and the specially-insulated mail order packs contain an 8.5 kg (18.7 lb) mix of particular cuts including joints, chops, steaks and processed meat, such as bacon and sausages. One of the clear messages from this research was that consumers wanted traditional, prime sausages - not 'fancy' recipes.

"We've had terrific feedback from butchers stocking Blythburgh Free Range Pork, who've told us it has a distinctive, 'old-fashioned' flavour," said Jimmy. "One butcher's customer even claimed it changed his children from being vegetarians!"

Additional Information

Blythburgh Free Range Pork is available from Jimmy Butler, St Margaret's Farm, Mells, Halesworth, Suffolk IP19 9DD.
Tel: 01986 873298
Fax: 01986 875272
email:[email protected]
website: www.freerangepigs.co.uk

Each Blythburgh 8.5 kg pack of Blythburgh Free Range Pork pack contains: 1 stuffed leg (sage),1 stuffed shoulder (apricot) 2 x 2 pork chops, 2 stir-fry strips, 1 pack back bacon, 1 pack streaky bacon, 1 pack diced pork, 4 packs sausages, 4 pork and apple burgers, 1 pack minced pork. Free packs are available to cookery writers planning to give coverage.

For further information contact:

Jimmy Butler
01986 873298
Blythburgh Free Range Pork

Source: BHR communications on behalf of Blythburgh Free Range Pork - 23rd July 2004

5m Editor