Kyle Holford and Lauren, Forest Coalpit Farm

‛‛Menter Moch Cymru has been instrumental in helping us access a wealth of information from various pig experts allowing complete novices to farm well and expand our business.
They have helped us grow and sustain our business for the future.’’
 
Background
Kyle Holford and Lauren Smith moved from London to Forest Coalpit Farm, a 20 acre holding in the Brecon Beacons, in October 2014.
With no prior agricultural experience, but a keen interest in food, and how it is produced, they bought their first saddleback weaners in January 2016. These were finished and marketed through direct sales to family and friends.
In April 2017 the on-farm processing unit opened and the business was set to take off.
 
The pigs
Selecting the most appropriate breed of pig to keep was a process of continuous assessment. Saddlebacks, Berkshires, Large Whites and Tamworth x Mangalitsa were all tried for ease of management, growth rate and their suitability to the outdoor rearing system adopted on the farm.
The appearance and eating quality of the meat produced was a key factor in their final decision to choose Large Black and Duroc, which are crossed to produce a finished pig that has good sized carcass with the required amount of fat.
The pigs are kept permanently outside on 12 acres of pasture and woodland. The area is divided into paddocks by electric fencing with each paddock having a water supply and pig arc. The fencing system allows for regular rotation of the pens and reseeding of areas which are badly churned up.
Piglets are weaned at 6 weeks and batched in groups which are fed a proprietary diet adlib until they reach a weight of 50kg. At this point the boars and gilts are separated and fed at different rates to ensure continued growth but without excess fat deposition. The target finishing weight is 85kg to give a 60kg carcass.
Careful management of the land ensures that the pigs have access to grazing as long as possible in the year. Kyle believes this is a major selling point of the pork and adds to the distinct flavour of the product.
The herd currently stands at 10 breeding sows producing 70 finished pigs a year but have plans to expand to 20 sows producing 160 finished pigs by the end of 2018.
 
Marketing
All the meat is cut and processed on the farm by Kyle and Lauren. Lauren participated in the pig butchery and meat processing courses and Kyle, a charcuterie course – both delivered by Menter Moch Cymru. As a result of this training a better understanding of cutting pig and product was gained.
Initially Forest Coalpit pork was marketed locally by word of mouth or by using advertising posters but now 90% of their produce is marketed directly from the farm to London chefs.
In order to further develop a sustainable, efficient and transparent supply chain between chefs and Welsh food producers Kyle and Lauren hosted a visit to the farm for a consignment of London chefs. The visit was part of a pan-Wales trip organised by Menter Moch Cymru, in association with HCC and Foodchain. Expansion plans are now being made for the herd to fill the developing market that has been identified as a result of the visit.
Participating in a local Menter Moch Cymru producer group has enabled Kyle and Lauren to meet other pig farmers who share a similar ethical and sustainable approach to pork production. Collectively they are looking into the options available to reduce costs, add value to their product and new marketing opportunities.
Attending numerous veterinary based meetings held by Menter Moch Cymru over the year has given Kyle and Lauren understanding of the importance of biosecurity and disease prevention, correct nutrition and management of the breeding herd. Having completed the AI course at Harper Adams Kyle now has the skill required to use AI to introduce new genetics in to the herd whilst minimising the disease risk.
Kyle also participated in the Menter Moch Cymru study tour to Cornwall where his interest in forage feeding to pigs was furthered with an insight into the whole farm sustainable approach adopted by one of the farms visited.
 
“The study tour was inspiring. I gained many helpful tips and ideas that I will apply to my farm. I also made some great contacts with similarly minded farmers.”

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