PORK PASSION: Producers making a name for themselves

Eumungerie producer Michael Hicks started a family business Extraordinary Pork in September 2014. PHOTO: Alexandra Hicks

Eumungerie producer Michael Hicks started a family business Extraordinary Pork in September 2014. PHOTO: Alexandra Hicks

Central west pork producers are reaching new heights with their free-range produce, not only selling their respective products direct to customers at local markets or butchers, they are also passionate about what they do and the part they play in Australian agriculture.

Eumungerie producer Michael Hicks, with his wife Alexandra, started their business Extraordinary Pork in September 2014.

"I've been a farmer my whole life. It was something we always wanted to do" Mr Hicks said.

"We realised no-one else from the area was doing pork, so we bought a few sows and slowly built the business to where it is today."

Those first few sows have now gone up to 14 and produce about 250 growers (a pig between weaning and sale or transfer to the breeding herd, sold for slaughter or killed for rations) each year.

Extraordinary Pork has customers from Dubbo, Narromine, Wellington, Orange and Coonabarabran and produces free-range Berkshire sows.

"The Berkshire sows are black, which means they don't suffer from sunburn," Mr Hicks said.

Berkshire pork produces a marbled meat, meaning the meat contains various amounts of intramuscular fat, and their most popular cut is bacon.

"Bacon would have to be our biggest seller. It's very popular, very sweet and the Berkshire marbling adds to that flavour," Mr Hicks said.

The Hicks travel to the Dubbo Farmers' Markets regularly to sell their products, where they can get up to 250 customers a day, sell boxed meat to buyers, or through their website.

They are in the process of organising customers to come down to their property and see first-hand the work they do with the sows.

"Customers then get a close connection with the food and farmer," Mr Hicks said.

"It also helps us gauge sales."

Each week the pigs move to a new paddock with fresh grass to eat and new dirt to dig.

Mr Hicks said he and Alexandra were passionate about improving their landscape, applying a range of techniques to achieve this including holistic management and and stress-free stock handling.

"That is very important to us. We want to have a positive impact," Mr Hicks said.

"We've been here for three years now and there are things I'm still learning about the farm. But the day you stop learning is the day you die."

Tickled Pink Pork in Narromine is a family-run business operating just outside Narromine in NSW.

With more than 30 breeding sows and three bores, Tickled Pink Pork can have up to 100 pigs running free on the property at a time.

Tickled Pink Pork producer Michelle Welsh and her partner Matthew Cowley, together with Matthew's parents, operate the business which has been running for just over a year.

Tickled Pink Pork producer Michelle Welsh and her partner Matthew Cowley, together with Matthew's parents, operate the business which has been running for just over a year.
Photo: GRACE RYAN

Tickled Pink Pork producer Michelle Welsh and her partner Matthew Cowley, together with Matthew's parents, operate the business which has been running for just over a year. Photo: GRACE RYAN

The name was an idea Ms Walsh had, but it took a bit of convincing to get Matt on board.

"I thought it was very catchy," she said.

"Matt was a bit nervous at first, but I think it was because he was worried he'd have to wear pink every time we went to the markets.

"But overall we've had some really positive comments about our name."

Ms Welsh said it was a very special sight to look into the paddock and see more than 100 pigs at a time roaming the paddock.

"It's a very unique opportunity. They're free range so it can be very funny to look at them in the paddock when you're used to seeing sheep or cattle," she said.

Tickled Pink Pork predominately have large whites, but they also have Berkshire pigs.

They supply to Bourke Street Butchery in Dubbo and almost always sell out of product at the Farmers Markets.

"As it's gotten cooler customers have picked up at the Markets," Ms Welsh said.

"We can sell up to two pigs (at the Farmers Markets) that are about 60 kilograms each."

Ms Welsh said in the short time they've been supplying their cuts of pork to the markets they have had a good response form customers and have repeat buyers.

"That's our biggest compliment," Ms Welsh said of repeat customers.

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