Organic Pig Farming Gains Popularity

THAILAND - There has been a rise in the number of organic and free-range pig farms as producers become convinced that grazing herbs and other plants keeps the pigs healthier.
calendar icon 6 May 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Raising pigs in the open and feeding them grass and herbs is increasingly popular among small-scale farms, says Pimpaya Theeranuwat, the co-owner of HP Farm, a pioneering organic pig farm.

She told Bangkok Post that free-range farms with natural ventilation and sunshine not only provide a better environment but also produce healthier pigs and more hygienic pork.

"With these methods, pigs have more space to move around and these conditions are an effective preventative method against risks from disease," she said.

Last year, Mrs Pimpaya and her husband, Suphap Theeranuwat, opened a 13-rai [21,000 square metre] free-range pig farm in Nakhon Pathom province, the country's main pig-producing region.

They have also developed the site as an organic pig farm, applying knowledge built up over many years working at Sampran Farm, one of Thailand's very first free-range and organic pig farms.

"We're not worried much about the existing flu. As our farm is located quite far away from other farms and our pigs are raised with organic methods, their health is great," she said.

Pigs can roam freely around the green site, where they eat grass together with plants like lemongrass and guava leaves that benefit their digestive systems.

Other herbs are put in the pigs' feed to promote growth and prevent various illnesses.

Yuthana Siriwathananukul, a researcher from Prince of Songkla University, found that adding medicinal plants to feed produces high-quality pork without antibiotic residues.

Plants such as fah thalai jone, or andrographis paniculata, are added to feed to strengthen pigs' lungs and livers, while turmeric can promote hygienic, tender and juicy meat. Ms Pimpaya dismissed scepticism among other farmers about pigs consuming grass and herbs.

"If you feed them to young piglets, the animals get used to it," she said.

She claims this diet can protect pigs from common diseases, especially foot and mouth, and reduce antibiotic residues in their meat.

She shrugged off the possibility of H1N1 influenza appearing at Thai farms, necessitating a slaughter of livestock as during the bird flu outbreak, as long as the government imposes effective safeguards, concludes the Bangkok Post article.

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