ABOUT LANCING COLLEGE FARM
Lancing College Farm is an educational farm run on a not-for-profit basis where highest welfare pork and lamb is naturally reared.
Situated at the foot of the South Downs managed by Jon Hutcheon, a farmer with a wide range of experience in arable and livestock farming of all types who also hosts educational programmes covering rural, farming and conservation issues. Jon is also an active contributor to many journals and author of books covering rural management.
Lancing College Farm was originally established in 1983 as an offshoot to the school. However, since then, the farm has developed and Jon works incredibly hard to continue and build good farming practices and has conservation and animal welfare rooted firmly at the core of his work. The farm works closely with the South Downs National Park Authority to manage the woodland, ditches and rivers adjacent to the farm and monitor wildlife on the 70 acre site. Jon’s farming ethos is to demonstrate that the balance between farming and conservation is interdependent when managed consistently and is an effective method of land management.
REARING AND FEEDING
The sheep and pigs reared on the farm are a central element to traditional land management and an essential factor in conservation. Jon rears a mixture of rare breed pigs such as the Tamworth X Gloucester Old Spot and also Duroc (a more well known breed for pork) along with Welsh X Gloucester Old Spot. The pigs are woodland reared and have freedom to roam in roomy runs over an 8 acre area with access to plenty of mud, dry area, shelter and food.
The benefit to the woodland area is that the pigs are free to forage which naturally keeps the area clear of bracken and overgrowth. The land is ‘poached’ (ie disturbed) with limited numbers of pigs which ensures a ready supply of worms, beetles and other insects at the surface, which constitute a valuable part of the pigs’ diet and food for wildlife. The hedgerow provides a source of berries and, of course, foraging allows the pigs the stimulation of enjoying their natural behaviours, exercise and living in social groups and of course, access to mud. Incidentally, it’s a fallacy that pigs enjoy vast amounts of mud. Pigs enjoy just enough mud, but they are sensitive to their environment and need warmth and dry space for respite and to stretch out to sleep, which is provided and maintained – with Jon working long hours during the last stretch of very wet weather to remove mud and give the pigs drier areas to roam. They have natural shelter in the woodland and also their hay-filled runs provide a clean and warm resting place.
Jon collects donated seeds and veg plants to grow which supplement the natural foraged diet for the pigs and ensures they have access to nourishing, tasty food all year round. The veg is obviously varied and seasonal, depending on what is available and of course, just grown in totally natural conditions.
ORGANIC / NON ORGANIC
Lancing College Farm is not certified organic. However, Jon’s natural farming methods are undoubtedly gold standard. Traditional farming is highly labour intensive and a 24/7 lifestyle choice. Jon farms his small team and volunteer support and usually is found at the farm every day, including weekends, his kids are also often involved with feeding, cleaning the pig shelters and refilling with hay. Jon’s farming philosophy is very much prevention rather than cure – so through keeping the animals relaxed, well fed, nourished and exercised, the risk of illness and disease are minimised. Any illnesses are quickly picked up and dealt with, avoiding unnecessary suffering to the animals and ensuring that only medication is given when needed and not routinely.
Sheep are incredibly sensitive and can be more vulnerable to changes in temperature conditions so Jon ensures they are protected through using good nourishment, and not through routine medication, to keep the flock as healthy as possible.
So, although the meat is not certified organic, welfare is always paramount, caring and respectful.
The animals spend their life on the farm although some animals are welcomed from other farms where their life hasn’t been as natural or as free to forage. In addition, compared to industrial farming cycles, the pigs are kept for longer and also free to roam in their social groups.
Jon takes equal care of the animals in preparing them as humanely as possible. Their transportation trailer is brought into the pen for them to access with food and hay provided so they can become accustomed to the environment.
The processing is also as humane as possible. The pigs travel in pairs or a group of three to Henfield, where the processing takes place under strict veterinary supervision (there is a permanent onsite vet). The short journey minimises stress to the animals and also keeps food miles and greenhouse gas emissions from vehicle transportation to lowest possible levels.
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Call us on 07966 972530