Andrew Freemantle – Red Tractor Pig Farmer, East Devon
Andrew Freemantle, Red Tractor pig farmer
If animal welfare ever plays on your mind, you only need to watch this video to see how well cared for animals in the Red Tractor scheme really are.
Andrew Freemantle produces pigs at Kenniford Farm near Exeter in Devon. He has 360 sows – and that means there are lots of piglets.
“We’re basically running a great big pig maternity unit,” Andrew said. “Being around when a piglet is born is very helpful at enabling that piglet to have the best start in life. What you’re looking to do, as soon as it comes out of the sow, is gently snapping the umbilical cord and then drying the piglet off, because they suffer terribly from chills, so the sooner we can get them dry the better. And then by far the most important part of the process is getting that piglet onto the sow’s teat so she can have some colostrum which is full of antibodies that will set that piglet up for the rest of its life.”
To give his piglets the very best start, Andrew provides enclosures where they can get up and walk around outside, but also snuggle in a warm, cosy environment indoors. “These piglets, believe it or not, have got an underfloor heating system keeping them warm – a network of pipes keeping them at 26/27 degrees all year round.”
Andrew explains that you can trust Red Tractor farmers like him because they are very closely monitored to make sure they’re doing everything exactly right. “The things we have to do to be a Red Tractor pig farmer compared to just a normal farmer are quite onerous and difficult to achieve – basically we have to have our farm open all the time for an inspector to come round, which they do, we have a 35-page set of rules and regulations to adhere to and we have to have the vet round four times a year, whether we need them or not.”
Red Tractor inspections are really important because they check everything in great detail; the farmer’s records are checked, they walk round the farm and they also check the animals aren’t overstocked.
“We’re Red Tractor, the haulier who takes the pigs to the abattoir is Red Tractor and the abattoir that buys my pigs and puts them through the slaughtering process has to be Red Tractor,” Andrew said. “From a consumer’s perspective it’s very reassuring. If I see the Red Tractor on a menu in a restaurant, or on some sausages in a shop, I know, because I’ve been at the thick end, the provenance of those products and it gives me faith in what they are.”