What Free-Range Pigs really mean

Lexi Gugger

As we researched and looked into conventional Pig farming practices in Australia, it stood out to us that conventional Pig farmers tend to have minimal or no photographs of the conditions their pigs are raised in. In fact, you'll find much more footage about Pig farming in Australia from Animal Activists using hidden cameras!

According to Sustainable Table, Unfortunately, there is currently no legal definition of free-range for pigs in Australia, however late last year the ACCC cracked down on the misuse of the term, which is a positive step in making our food system a little more transparent

In 2015, there was a lot of talk about Farmers and Retailers using the term Bred Free-Range with people believing they were buying Free-Range Pork. But what this really translates to, is that piglets are born and raised outdoors with their mothers, who spend their entire lives outside (to Free-Range Standards), but at 3 4 weeks old are weaned and moved indoors to open-sided sheds where they spend the rest of their lives. The ACCC found Bred Free-Range to be misleading. Now, the term most commonly used for this type of farming is Outdoor Bred. Raised indoors on Straw, which gives customers a much better understanding of what type of Pork they are buying and what type of farming they are supporting through their purchases.

What Free-Range means at its core is that the pigs from the day they are born until their last days are kept outdoors on paddocks with access to shelter and plenty of room to roam around. Free-Range means something slightly different to every certifying body, so it is best to understand the different requirements each certifying body has. For instance, the RSPCA have requirements about the amount of space each pig should have. These measurements vary depending on the size of the weight of the pig. For example, a 10kg pig requires 22cm2 and 1.16m2 is required for a 120kg pig. Those numbers are actually quite generous when comparing them to conventional farming where pigs can be given down to 0.66m2.

But, if Free-Range Pork is what you are after, PROOF and Humane Choice approved products in our eyes stand out above the rest. We have found that (without naming and shaming) other Free-Range certifying bodies, tend to have lower standards than those of PROOF and Humane Choice. The standards other Free-Range certifying bodies do have, are probably below what you would imagine Free-Range to entail.

At Sunshine Coast Organic Meats, all our Pork is sourced from PROOF or Humane Choice Certified Farms, to ensure the best quality meat for you and the best quality of life for the Pigs. If you would like to read more about this, please refer to ABC Rural and Sustainable Table.

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