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Sheep, cattle ... pigs

By Han Bingbin (China Daily)

09:20, May 08, 2012

Clockwise from top: Black piglets roam free in fenced grassy paddocks, are pampered and fed a mixture of wheat, peas and vegetables. Photos by Han Bingbin / China Daily

Australia is known as a country with almost as many sheep as there are people. It is also increasingly well-known for its quality Wagyu beef. Han Bingbin discovers there is yet another meat that is attracting attention.

A decade ago, antiques dealers Warren Smith and Linda Smith bought a piece of land close to the pristine shores of Coffin Bay, Eyre Peninsula, South Australia, and started thinking: "Why don't we raise pigs?"

From that incidental brainwave, they started with three pigs, two sows and a boar.

Six years later, strictly adhering to their basic principles of rearing happy, healthy animals, their free-range pig farm is now at a whole new level. They currently have a total of 350 pigs, with four stud males and about 60 breeding females producing about 120 litters a year.

Their pork now retails all over Australia and it's proudly featured on the menus of high-profile local restaurants such as the Oysterbeds by Coffin Bay. In the Channel Seven show Mecurio's Menu filmed at their Minniribbie pig farm, their leg steaks was marinated, pounded and stuffed in a new recipe by celebrity chef Paul Mecurio.

Daily life at the Smiths' 225-acre (90 hectare) farm is a pastoral idyll. Black piglets closely follow their mothers as they roam free in large fenced grassy paddocks. They wallow happily in mud pools, and go home to fresh straw in their shelters.

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