Downlands, South Canterbury
In the shadow of the Hunter Hills just outside of Timaru lies Highgrounds, a 370-hectare farm raising free-range pork for Harmony.
For Highgrounds’ owners, the Cottle family, the pigs’ welfare is as important as the family’s and no expense is spared in treating them like royalty. From the luxurious purpose-built heated yurts for the sows to farrow (give birth) and keep their vulnerable piglets safe, to on-demand feed and 1500m2 area for each group of 150 pigs (roughly 100m2 of pasture for each pig) to roam around in, this is ethical and free-range farming at its finest.
The Cottle family is passionate about sustainable farming and share Harmony’s values around giving animals their best life.
“The freedom to roam and express their natural behaviours also complements the rest of our farming operation where we can grow crops after the pigs have been in the paddocks – it’s a soil and nutrient centric approach,” says Hamish Cottle.
Lounging around in the shade or lying in the cool dirt, Harmony pork is raised in a low stress environment. No barns, cages or concrete floors, instead fresh air, sunlight, and lush open fields.
“We set the scene for the pigs – plenty of bedding, ad-lib feeding, access to grass, feed and shelter should they choose it. Keep them comfortable with the sun on their back and dirt between their toes. They do the rest.”
The Cottles use a rotational grazing model, where groups of pigs are kept together and rotated around the farm. As it takes five or six years until pigs are back grazing the same pasture, the soil and plants are given time to regenerate, providing a constant supply of fresh greens.