Dream of better life led to free range business

Passion for Berkshires driving Squealing Pig Farm's free range operation


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FARMING FAMILY: Pork producers Jason Bartholomew and Grace Lindsay, with Cheyenne, 2, and Hunter, 3, at their Emu Creek property.

FARMING FAMILY: Pork producers Jason Bartholomew and Grace Lindsay, with Cheyenne, 2, and Hunter, 3, at their Emu Creek property.

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A city couple who dreamt of a more sustainable life have been growing a free range pork business on the Darling Downs.

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From living in the city and dreaming of a more sustainable lifestyle to running a growing free range Berkshire pork business, Jason Bartholomew and Grace Lindsay are the first to admit that their journey over the past few years has taken them a long way.

The idea for Squealing Pig Farm was born when the couple was living in Brisbane, Mr Bartholomew working as a diesel fitter and Ms Lindsay as a beauty therapist.

After finding out Ms Lindsay was pregnant with son Hunter, now 3, the couple shifted to the Darling Downs in pursuit of their dream life, planting vegetables and starting with two Berkshire pigs.

They registered the name Squealing Pig Farm in 2016, as interest in their business grew, fuelled by a strong social media presence.

They now have seven breeders and aim to turn off about 70 meat pigs each year, selling the meat directing to a growing, predominantly city-based clientele.

The pigs are grown out free-range, with a baseline diet of Kewpie Pig Grower, to reach a 65kg live weight and a carcase weight of about 44kg.

The couple has now bought a 120 hectare block at Emu Creek, which they say they will let them grow the business even further.

"For a Berkshire, the more land you can give them with a basic grain diet, the better they will be because they're walking, they're using their muscles, they're building mass rather than building fat," Ms Lindsay said.

Mr Bartholomew, who still works full-time, said they had put in a lot of hard work in pursuit of the life they wanted and taken calculated risks.

"The first two pigs we bought paid for the breeders and from there, we changed a bit of blood through and just slowly kept the ball rolling," Mr Bartholomew said.

"We started with nothing, it's just a love affair."

Breeding stock at Squealing Pig Farm, Emu Creek.

Breeding stock at Squealing Pig Farm, Emu Creek.

At the moment they also have black Angus and Texas Longhorn cattle on agistment, but they will also be brought over to their new block. They have also run lambs in the past.

Berkshires are a heritage breed and their marbled meat, sometimes referred to as the Wagyu of the pork world, is prized for its tenderness, juiciness and flavour.

"They are generally naturally foraging, they would just keep walking and eating," Mr Bartholomew said.

"It just changes the meat so much, it's darker and got more marbling and intramuscular fat."

Ms Lindsay said they felt a real connection with their customers.

"People really enjoy that we're the people dropping it off, they see our kids grow up and that helps sell the meat because it has a story," she said.

"People give us Christmas cards and birthday cards."

Susan is one of the breeders at Squealing Pig Farm.

Susan is one of the breeders at Squealing Pig Farm.

Catering success tastes sweet

Grace Lindsay and Jason Bartholomew's foray into the catering world, which keeps them busy most weekends, came about largely by chance.

After buying a female pig that didn't get pregnant within 12 months, the decision was made that she had to go, inspiring the idea of a party to thank their supporters.

To cook the 220kg pig, Mr Bartholomew built a smoker.

That first event was a raging success.

Under the name The Wofty Possum, they have now catered CMC Rocks twice along with a range of weddings, festivals, private events and their own family-friendly bush parties.

The couple also plans to use their new location to run an on-site butchery event where a steer will be broken down to educate customers about different cuts of meat and how to cook them.

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