Helen Browning’s Organic has won the Health and Welfare Award for Pigs in the 2010 National Pig & Poultry Awards. The Awards were celebrated at the London Haymarket Hotel where guests were joined by food writer, chef and regular on BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen, Lawrence Keogh.
“The overwhelming view of the judges was that Helen Browning’s Organic demonstrates traditional systems with outstanding welfare and biodiversity benefits,” says Dick Stocker, chairman of the judges and Director of RS Hygiene, award sponsor. “Helen Browning and her team put the animal centre stage and this shows in the end product with the benefits of a stress-free life being passed on in the quality of the meat.”
Helen has been farming organically since 1986, and her popular Speedy Sausages and bacon are sold in Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s. Her award winning pub and restaurant The Royal Oak, at Bishopstone, near Swindon, is listed by Michelin in their top 500 food pubs 2010.
“Of all the benefits derived from organic farming – the wildlife, the landscape, the delicious food – what motivates me more than anything is allowing our animals to have as good a life as possible,” says Helen Browning. At Eastbrook Farm, we aim to put the animal first, to understand what she or he wants and needs to be able to fulfil her potential as a pig, a chicken, a cow or a sheep.”?
The native breed pigs at Eastbrook Farm live in family groups and the piglets enjoy late weaning so that they are robust and independent by the time they leave mum. Life for a pig at Eastbrook means living outdoors with lots of space and fresh ground to rootle in on a regular basis. It has never been necessary to cut the piglets’ teeth or dock their tails because with an active and stress-free life they don’t bully each other. Their noses are not ringed so the pigs are free to forage in the grass and mud in all weathers with the option of going home to their dry, warm, straw-filled arc when they have had enough.
The pigs are not given free access to antibiotics which can contribute to antibiotic resistance in human medicine. One of the major observations Helen made when she first converted the farm to organic methods was the elimination of disease build-up due to the healthy lifestyle of the livestock.