CLEAN green pork is the focus at Mayfield Farm, a humane choice certified small farm at Hernani.
Siblings Ian and Sandra Bannerman have been producing pork, beef and lamb at “Mayfield” for more than 10 years, with the main focus on pork production.
“When we purchased the farm we were told it would run a larger number of cattle, but we then thought about what we could do on 350 acres (140 hectares) that would be financially viable to support the two of us,” Ms Bannerman said.
“From the cattle we got two sows and a boar, which we initially got for our own use, and it grew from there.
“The paddock to plate idea came with the pigs, because it’s impossible to make a living with conventional farming on 350 acres.”
Their decision to become humane choice certified has paid off with customers, and while the farm isn’t certified organic, Ms Bannerman said
“Humane choice certified means that animals are raised ethically and can practice their natural behaviours.
“Even on our first farm at Kempsey, we didn't use chemical fertilisers or superphosphate, and cattle were drenched minimally.
“Because we eat our own food we like it to be safe and clean, and we find that our customers prefer it.
“We have open days twice a year, so I think the fact that we don't have organic certification isn't a big issue because people can come and see what we're doing.”
The Bannermans started providing locals with pork, but made it the focus of the business seven years ago.
They now sell pork through farmer’s markets and businesses at Armidale, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour and Sydney.
The Bannermans currently have 27 sows, two boars and 150 offspring.
“We don't castrate the males so they’re sold before they develop boar taint,” Ms Bannerman said.
“They go when they’re about 20 weeks or younger, usually between 60 kilograms and 70kg and the gilts are normally 70kg to 80kg.”
The pigs are productive breeders, with litters ranging from eight to 16.
“We keep the sows for four to five years, but we’ve got one that’s six or seven and she’s raising 12 piglets again.
“We’ve split the farm into one hectare paddocks with electric fencing and four sows farrow in each paddock.
“Each sow gets a A-frame hut on skids moved around paddocks as needed.”
Ms Bannerman tries to have one sow farrow each week.
“We wean sows and piglets at eight weeks and the sow normally cycles four to five days later,” she said.
“Her piglets go into a weaning paddock and as each sow is served she then goes and joins the dry sows.”
Beef and lamb is sold through the markets, with the Angus and Angus-cross cattle processed from 250kg.
The Bannermans run 15 ewes, with mainly Romney Marsh sheep.
”We started with Dorpers but they didn't suit the wet climate with their foot problems.”
All stock are on mineral blocks and are rotated regularly.
“The sheep get a mix of diatomaceous earth, garlic, sulphur and seaweed meal monthly and have access to mineral licks,” Ms Bannerman said.
“The paddock rotation also deals with any worm problems.
“The pigs aren't rotated in the same way as the sheep and cattle, but their paddocks are spelled for six months which certainly breaks the parasite cycle.
“The grower pigs are on self feeders with a special genetically modified free formula made for us by Riverina Stockfeeds.
“And because the pig manure is so nutrient rich, we can make grass hay from the paddocks they've been in which is good for the cows.”
The Bannermans keep 250 hens with eggs sold through stores at Bellingen and Dorrigo as well as the farmer’s markets.
“They’re fed organically with a layer mix and they have access to pasture from daylight to dusk in a confined space which electric chicken fencing,” Ms Bannerman said.
The Bannermans also sell potatoes through the markets.
“We’ve got really good support from the markets because the customers are foodies and want to know where their food comes from,” Ms Bannerman said.
”We have customers who only buy their meat from us, so they'll come and buy enough meat until the next market they'll be attending.”