Sheffield, South Yorkshire
PIGS, SOUTH YORKSHIRE: Stephen's family have farmed in the Moss Valley for over 100 years. Stephen and his wife Karen farm 220 indoor sows and 200 acres (81 hectares) of crops to make their own animal feed. The farm produces 5,800 Duroc pigs annually, reared from piglets up to five-and-a-half months old that are then sold for meat. The males (boars) are sold to a large meat processor and the females (gilts) go through Stephen’s butchery. His pork, bacon and sausages are sold locally to restaurants, hotels, cafes and farmers’ markets. The farm's produce has won the business a number of accolades, including being voted Made In Yorkshire food producer of the year 2022 and Yorkshire Post Rural Business of the year 2022.
In many commercial indoor systems, like Stephen's, the sows give birth in farrowing crates. This prevents them from lying on their piglets. They spend about a month in these pens. The piglets are weaned at 26 days old and the mother is then mixed back into loose pens with the other sows. After 5 days, she will come on heat again and will be artificially inseminated by the farmer. A sow is pregnant for three months, three weeks and three days. On average, Stephen's sows have 2.3 litters a year each.
Recently the farm has become more self-sufficient in energy by investing in wind turbines, a straw burner, and solar panels.
The hot summer of 2022 led to an increased number of house flies in some of the pig sheds. It was uncomfortable for the pigs and everyone who works on the farm, but Stephen did not want to use more chemical sprays to control them. Instead they opted for a biological control – predator flies. The larvae of the Orphyra fly feed on the larvae of house flies. Conveniently for pig farmers, they hatch in the muck underneath the slats and stay down there throughout their adult lives without bothering the pigs. It has considerably reduced the number of flies in Stephen’s sheds.
Member of NFU (local branch treasurer and former local branch chairman). Member of the National Pig Association (NPA) and Made in Sheffield.
International, national and local radio and TV; national and local press; farming press