We are first and largest breeders of Large Black pigs in West Wales and have a proven, prize-winning Majestic Eagle boar, the registered homebred daughter of our original foundation sow from the Fashion line (Twiggy sadly died recently), a very rare Bess sow, one of only seven in existence, and an equally rare Queen sow. According to the breed society "With lop ears and a long deep body, the Large Black is Britain’s only all black pig. They are extremely docile and hardy and suited to simple outdoor systems. The Large Black is also much appreciated for its tasty succulent meat and eating qualities. It is superb as pork but also excels when traditionally cured as bacon." Surprisingly, the meat has a normal white rind, not black as might be expected. Large blacks are one of the rarest native pigs, listed as "Priority" by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust with less than 200 active registered breeding sows. We are proud to be doing our bit to help this wonderful breed survive.
We were finalists in the British Pig Association Pedigree Breeder of the Year Award 2023, in the New Pedigree Breeder category. The judges had this to say about Black Orchard:
“Stephen and Sue are promoting their Large Black herd with an holistic slow reared approach that is yielding fantastic results. They have been able to get their pork products into some of the top sporting events in England. The panel noted the hard work they have put into their animals and it was good to see that they are using their experience to help others on their journey too. They have had a complete career change from the military to keeping pigs. Developing the business, running courses and writing a book in such a short space of time is a tremendous achievement and they have done a great job.”
We enjoy passing our knowledge onto prospective pig owners through our Pig to Pork course, and also through this book to which we are very proud to have contributed:
Uniquely Ethical Pork
Our pigs are entirely free-range and meet their ends at a tiny, third generation, on-farm abattoir just 23 miles away where they are treated with care and respect. They have wonderful lives snuffling and rooting to their hearts’ content; their food is supplemented with our own wildflower meadow haylage and locally grown barley, plus local carrots and swedes, and windfall apples kindly donated by the local community. Their paddocks are regularly resown with a special pig mix of grasses and vegetable which are deep-rooted to preserve the soil and provide both food and enrichment for the pigs. Being a small enterprise we know all our animals and can give them the individual attention which they deserve and enjoy. Our breeding sows, Arianrhod, Blodeuwedd and Cerridwen, and our boar, Bran, are cherished members of the Berllan family. We know there are plenty of other farmers producing rare breed pork to similarly high welfare standards, but here at Berllan we believe that the ethics of meat production goes beyond just animal welfare, and that our pork is uniquely ethical.
So what makes Black Orchard pork so different?
Our pigs are fed food entirely grown and produced in the UK. They have no soya (and therefore no GMO) whatsoever, thereby reducing their carbon footprint and not contributing to the loss of rain forests for soya production.
Our pigs graze and eat forage unlike most pigs. As well as being good for the pigs, acting as a form or enrichment and stopping them feeling hungry between meals, feeding forage has been shown to produce a "significant increase" in a-Linoleic Acid (ALA)*. ALA has been proven to give many health benefits to humans, such as preventing heart attacks, lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol and reversing the hardening of blood vessels.
*The study was a 2021 project sponsored by Farming Connect, Menter Moch Cymru and Forest Coalpit Farm
They are housed in arks made from recycled farm waste, so are as kind to the environment as possible.
As far as we can we source all our farm needs from local suppliers and not national chains, thus contributing to the local economy.
Our rare breed pork truly is "rare breed" and pedigree, not crosses of two or more breeds. As well as meaning that every batch of pork bought from us will be consistent and not vary as to the cross, the Large Black is one of the country’s rarest pigs, classed as “Priority” by the Rare Breed Survival Trust with under 200 active registered sows; this makes them rarer than giant pandas or Siberian tigers. The piglets we breed who are excellent examples of the breed go on to become breeding sows or boars, and those not up to the breed standard are fattened for meat. By eating them you are helping to keep this wonderful breed alive.
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Free Range? Outdoor Reared? Outdoor Bred?
What is the Difference?
Whilst trying to source pork before we had our own pigs, we found that there is much confusion between the terms "Free Range", "Outdoor Reared" and "Outdoor Bred" with many people thinking that they are the same thing.
Outdoor Bred: these pigs are born outside to sows in an ark. On weaning, often as early as four weeks of age, they are taken inside to an intensive unit until they are sent to the abattoir. They therefore experience barely any time outside and independent before being shut in, never to see daylight again.
Outdoor Reared: these pigs are born outside to sows in an ark in a field. They have around two months outside, although the last four weeks of this could be in a concrete yard rather than a field. They are then taken inside to an intensive unit, never to see daylight again.
Free Range: These pigs can be born outside in a field as in Outdoor Reared, or, as we do, the sows can be brought inside into a comfortable, warm, protected area where they can be carefully supervised during farrowing and helped if necessary. As soon as the piglets are strong enough they go back outside. On weaning they are moved to another paddock where they live as pigs should, rooting in the soil and enjoying a wallow until they are ready to go to the abattoir.
These systems are all considerably better than the way the vast majority of pork is raised in this country, with pure intensive housing systems and farrowing crates, but personally we feel that Outdoor Bred or Reared is nowhere near as good for the pigs as Free Range. Rest assured that Black Orchard pork is very definitely Free Range and will always be so.
Anyone that wants to see for themselves how our pigs are kept would be most welcome to visit. Just give us a call first so that we know when to expect you.