• Woodfired Kitchen

Why We Love Free Range & Berkshire Pigs

Berkshire pork graces the menus of some of the fanciest restaurants across the world. It gets its name from the English county it hails from and the breed was discovered over 300 years ago. You may also see it called Kurobuta, this is the Japanese for black pig, where the Berkshire is highly popular.

The Berkshire pig is known for a lot of things – it’s rich texture, the marvellous marbling, and juicy, tender meat in deep flavours. Some would say it is to pork what Kobe is to beef. While regular pork is mild, the Berkshire pig is packed with flavour. Considering they were originally bred to supply the King of England with meat, it shouldn’t be so surprising that they are so delicious. Or, highly sought after.

It doesn’t look or taste like other pork. In colour, it’s darker and features heavy marbling that you don’t generally see in pork. This is why it’s so tender and juicy.

Berkshire pigs eat a specific diet. While traditional pigs eat soybeans and corn, the Berkshire pig is more special than that. They are fed fruit, fresh vegetables, molasses, and oats. There’s a good reason for this. The fat that pigs eat is redistributed to their muscle fibre. So, pigs are what they eat, so what they eat is majorly important to how they taste.

There have been studies, there’s been research, there’s even big taste tests. All of which lead to the answer we already had for ourselves. Berkshire pigs are genetically predisposed to produce the best meats. Thanks to the marbling and short muscle fibres, this juicy, stress-free animal is a culinary gift. It shows in our pork belly, too. Animals who live in stress produce tough, dry meat. Berkshire pigs roam free, enjoy a tasty diet, and live a great life.

Thankfully, due to increased interest in food and heritage breeds of pigs, more farmers are raising Berkshire pigs. Many of the farms that do this are doing it on a small-scale, which allows for the pigs to receive the diet, care, and attention that they need to produce the meat that has long been associated with it.

There are two big reasons why we prefer free range.

· The Environment. Raising pigs in a warehouse produces tonnes of waste. This is drained into lagoons and as it fills, it also must be emptied… which is generally done by blasting it from a cannon to fertilize the land. Except that once it’s in the air it’s drifting into nearby water sources and into the living spaces around. So, it’s increasing the risk of health problems.

· The Consumer. The end product from free range pigs is far greater than what you would have from a pig raised in a tiny space in a warehouse filled with other pigs. Bacon is delicious because the salt content and fat make it so. Other cuts of the pig are often bland in taste. That is entirely down to how they are raised and what they are fed. So, for us choosing free range makes sense, when our customer sits down to a plate of pork belly or any other cut, we want them to really taste the right flavours.

We get our Berkshire from Little Cattle Creek Company. Established as a mixed farming enterprise in 1962, today they produce some of the best Free Range Berkshire Pork in the country. Based in the Limestone Valley, near Yea, these happy pigs roam free across 80 acres. They are the real deal……. Born in the paddock, raised in the paddock and finished in the paddock. The flavour is amazing. Come and try it for yourself!


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