Slide Show from Pipie Smits van Oyen
Two years ago we decided to keep some pigs as addition to our organic farm in the Netherlands to be
able to offer pig meat as well as our grass-fed Aberdeen Angus meat. Although outdoor pigs are
almost unknown in our country, we decided to take the plunge and looked to British pig keeping for
inspiration. After much looking around on the Internet and in books, we somewhat undecidedly chose
for the Oxford Sandy and Black breed, primarily because of its good outdoor qualities, meat quality
and inclination not to put on too much fat, and last but not least, its pretty looks. Since then, we have
fallen in love with the breed and the pigs have become a favourite on the farm, amongst ourselves,
employees and visitors alike.
With luck, we were able to purchase our first pigs (two gilts and two boars) from Taco van der Louw,
who had just imported them from Britain. We kept them over the summer and come winter, sent the
boars off to slaughter. We were stunned by the meat’s taste, from mincemeat to roasts, and have since
not gone back to buying other pork again. We fed those first pigs a finisher diet in their last few
months, which led to a substantial layer of fat, but this has not been a problem since we have been
finishing on a normal sow diet. We held on to the two sows for breeding, and they are now the basis of
our small herd.
The herd was expanded last year by the boar Luke, who was again imported from Wales with the help
of Kim Brook. After a shy start, he is now feeling very at home and has been doing his job
successfully while enjoying the grass and mud! The number of OSB keepers has been slowly growing
in the Netherlands, but with such a small population it is important to watch out for inbreeding so the
import of stock from other countries remains essential.
At the moment we are keeping the two sows and boar, with 20-30 piglets and finishers. We bring the
pigs to a abattoir, who butcher and package the meat, after which we sell it ourselves directly to
customers or to small retail or restaurants. The meat has proven very popular, with our customers
praising the full, “old-fashioned” taste. With an increasing number of pigs in the future, it will prove a
challenge to widen our customer base to be able to sell the extra meat. However, if no one else, the
pigs have made us happy from the first day they arrived. They are social, clever and beautiful animals,
and a minute spent with the pigs is never wasted!