Another pig bites the dust at 'Fishy'

Another pig bites the dust


Fish Creek's Amber Creek Farm has grown in popularity since starting its pasture pork operation six years ago.


FISH Creek pork producer Amelia Bright wrangles her two daughters as she poses for a photograph beside some of her pigs at Amber Creek Farm.

It's a day in the life of the mother of three who, with her husband Dan, run Hogs & Logs, a pasture pork and salvage sawmill operation in South Gippsland.

The contrast between the sawmill - which processes 750 tonnes of timber a year - and the pasture pork operation which includes about 180 head - is astonishing.

But surprisingly the pair work hand-in-hand.

"About six or seven years ago we started with six pigs and we wanted to be in control of our product," Ms Bright said.

"We started with them to see how things would go and we sold half of them directly to customers.

"I wrote letters to our friends and family and it snowballed from there because within that year we had 120 pigs and we were away from there really."

The herd consists of a dozen to 16 sows at any given time, two boars, 40 weaners and 40 growers across 70 hectares.

The Brights have established a good reputation and a strong client base, processing pigs at Orbost each month for small goods at Rosedale and fresh meat at Foster.

"It's been a huge learning curve. I had a background in allied health before I became a pig farmer so I had no marketing experience, no hospitality experience, no farming experience but Dan grew up on the neighbouring block," Ms Bright said.

"Our size is limiting and we're also not in a pig-centric area so it's hard to get a specialised pig vet out.

"As far as challenges in distribution of the meat, to make it economical for us, we have to do it because we don't have that size to split margain over a number of parties."

Bi-products from the sawmill, like sawdust and unusable wood, are chipped and used as the pigs' bedding.

"Once that's loaded up with pig poo and split feed and everything we compost it and and spread it on the paddocks and that becomes fertiliser," Mr Bright said.

He said the carbon from the sawdust allowed the soil to hold more moisture, boosting fodder productivity in the warmer months.

The Brights also use a holistic grazing approach, limiting pigs to a small area of the farm for a handful of days.

"It's a system where you have the animals in intense numbers on a section of grass for a number of days and they eat a third, they smash a third and a third of the pasture is left and then they get locked off that pasture for a long period of time," Mr Bright said.

"Our rotation is anywhere between 30 and 90 days where they're off the grass and they'll be on a section of grass between two and four days.

"The idea is you keep the grass plants in an optimal size range where they have a large root mass underground so they can regenerate very quickly so you'll have 40 pigs on roughly 1000 square metres ... they graze it intensely then they they get locked off."


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