Facts about Free Range Pork

It was Australian Ham week last week and with Christmas only a few weeks away now we certainly know all about it with busily preparing our hams! Australians love pork products, and more and more people are becoming aware of the importance of purchasing pork that has been ethically raised and is truly free range. That said, there’s still a lot of confusion about free range pork – confusion which is mostly created by ineffective labelling.

Is it really Free to Range?

A term you are likely to have seen is “Bred Free Range”. This means that whilst the pig may have been conceived outside, the sow’s piglets are not raised free range. Once the piglets are removed from their mothers, they are raised either in eco shelters or penned in sheds. The term bred free range tends to be misunderstood by consumers. The actual pork product that is produced from this system is not free range, only the sow (or mother) was. Bred free range is not free to range.

Genuine free range pork is generally grown by family farms, not massed produced. Free range is more labour intensive and small farms just do not have the economy of scale that the intensive piggeries rely on. Therefore for it to viable, a free range producer needs to receive a premium for their product.

Our pigs are:

  • free to graze pasture during the day
  • free to experience sunshine, wind and rain
  • have access to clean fresh water and good feed
  • free to express instinctive behaviour
  • free of pain, discomfort and disease
  • free from fear and distress
  • protected from predators
  • able to nurture their young
  • free from hormones, growth promoters and antibiotics

Did you know?

  • Pigs do not sweat and need to roll in mud to keep cool.
  • Pigs squeal so loudly they can hurt your ears! They can reach 115 decibels.
  • Pigs cannot lift their heads to look up at the sky, instead, they must turn their heads on one side so that the eye points upwards.
  • Pigs have a curly tail but when they are unhappy or not well, it goes straight.
  • A sow is pregnant for 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days.
  • Sows build huge nests to have their piglets in.
  • Pigs can grow to a very large size, around 300 kilos.

Source: www.australianpigfarmers.com.au


What say you – do you find pork labelling confusing? 

bred free range, free range pork, Newsletter - November 2013, pork labelling

Ben Clinch

Ben Clinch has a strong background in agriculture and has experience in operations and project management. Before starting The Free Range Butcher he worked as jackaroo, camel handler, barman, security guard, handyman, and tiler. These days he manages the day to day running of The Free Range Butcher business, and you can usually find him out the front of the farmers market stall; often telling bad jokes, or offering samples to vegetarians. He’s also the go to guy for sales, corporate enquiries, events, and silly questions.

Comments (3)

  • Hello Ben
    The family was so impressed with the ham I bought from you at the markets last year that I’ll be there next weekend to order another for this Xmas. Lots of family staying over the Xmas/NY break and having a ham in the fridge for quick salads and sambos will make life so easy.

    • Thanks for the great feedback and glad the Hams are such a hit.

      Don’t forget the 10% discount on hams ends Saturday 30th Nov and if you can’t make the market you can always order online.


  • I have bought the Free Range Butcher hams for a few years now.

    It is popular with young and old, so much so I think Ill get a whole one this year.

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