Welcome to the Winter 2022 NZWIG Newsletter.
I intended that you would receive a newsletter in March but some health issues got in the way so it hasn’t happened until now. Thanks to those who have supported me and those who have provided information and articles. Enjoy this edition.
Nick provided this article at the end of 2021 so it should be read in that context. Nick is well known in walnut and Tree Crop circles and he was for some time a remote member of the WIG committee, joining in by teleconference before the days of Zoom.
We Have a Sun Recorder Problem cries a headline in the local Whakatane Beacon newspaper. The man who records the weather here cannot believe how bad this spring has been. We usually top the sunshine hours chart, but this year we are nearly 50% down. He only needs to come out to look at our trees to see that his recorder is spot on. The ground is carpeted with all the new leaves shed from blight.
I don’t know that any of us knew that much about growing walnuts when we first got into the game. I certainly did not. All I knew was that I had been wanting to grow walnuts since I was 12 years of age, and by the time I was nearly 30, I was getting old, and I had better buy a block of land and plant some. Whakatane had the reputation of having the highest sunshine hours in the country, so when we found a block we could afford, which wasn’t much, our project finally got off the ground – or should I say into the ground.
In the mid-70’s, I remember getting into a discussion with Roland Clark at the NZ Tree Crops conference in Auckland, where he vehemently told me that my plan to plant seedlings was a dumb idea. I needed to plant grafted stock, AND NOT WILSON WONDERS. My problem was that I could not afford to buy grafted walnuts, Wilson Wonders or not. And I was not sure any of the varieties available were any good. And even if I could pay for grafted walnut trees, I could not procure any for love nor money. It was hard enough finding seedlings to buy; no, it was even nearly impossible to find any walnuts to sow myself.
So we planted seedling walnuts; 900 of them through the scrub on this bony, infertile hillside near Whakatane. We have planted some more every year since. Being a forester, trained on Radiata, I treated my walnut trees like Radiata until they told me different. Well, that did not take long. I very soon found out that most things were different, and that they needed fertilizer big time.
We had heard that it takes ages for seedling walnuts to bear fruit. So we were anxiously watching the trees for nuts; plenty of female flowers, but no male catkins. Being in the middle of nowhere meant there was no pollen coming over the boundary. After 15 years of waiting, I managed to buy a handful of grafted trees. That did it. One of the seedlings produced a male catkin the next year and we had nuts all over. Seedling walnuts can have nuts quite early, (the quickest I have seen is 18 months from seed to flowering), provided there are male catkins handy.
There have been many lessons learnt over the 44 years, which have gone by in a flash, on this walnut journey. I have learnt more in the last 5 than all the rest. All that time I have been measuring; measuring nuts, measuring trees. The object of a seedling population is to find improved varieties, while the trees grow a timber crop. Out of the several thousand trees evaluated, we have actually done over 300 crack-out weighings. People sent me nuts from Alexandra to Auckland.
To do Population Genetics you need to define the population, and we feel we have now done that. Nut size ranges from 3.8 grams to 27.3 grams. Rex is about 10 grams, Shannon is 11 grams, Wilson Wonder is 14.5 grams and Roadside 12 is 20 grams; all well below the maximum possible size, near the population average of 11.7 grams.
When crack-out is recorded, the range is from 5% to 62%. The 5% nuts took several minutes of pounding with a 5 lb hammer to break! I even found one tree that had no shell. Rex and Roadside 12 have a crack-out of 39%, Lara 42%, Shannon 52%, and Tyrant 53%. Population average is 41.2%. Although most of the varieties are above average, there is obviously a lot more to a good variety than just crack-out and nut size.
A while back Heather North asked me how we are managing Phytophthora? My reply was that it was just a nuisance for us. But that was before hidden springs started to burst out of our hills. It killed quite a few trees, so we established a Phytophthora trial in a killing field. Several interesting possibilities emerged, and now we routinely use Juglans nigra rootstocks
When we retired the tree nursery, which is how we earned our living while playing the walnut games, we were able to use the ground for variety productivity trials,. That was the only flat, actually just not steep, ground on the property. As the results started to come in, I found I had a dilemma. People are not stupid, so why have so many planted Rex, when this variety is rubbish on my place? Heather’s recent write up of the WIG trials resolved that for me. Rex obviously does quite well down south. But another problem emerged as the varieties that did well are yielding four times the best ones here.
Next challenge; is it the infertile site? could it be lack of winter chilling? or is the climate too wet here? does my pruning for timber delay nut production that much? or maybe something else. Spraying for blight would obviously help. We gave up copper spraying our seedlings because the response was not enough to pay for it.
There is still heaps to learn. Right from the start I wanted to grow walnut trees for timber as well as nuts, but that is a whole other topic.
As to the wet spring? We have learnt that every season is completely different; – next year…
Pictures of Nick’s property showing the steep terrain.
John Hollings has been at his neat and tidy handiwork again and made this stylish walnut storage shed from a container. The big features are the extended roof and the corrugated iron cladding which will insulate the container from the excesses of hot summer sunshine.
By Heather North
Here we discuss projects undertaken in recent years, with the value that we think they provide for growers. Where possible we have noted the funds invested by NZWIG in these projects. These funds are essential to making the projects happen, but please also remember the significant investment of time and expertise contributed on a voluntary basis by members of the research committee, trial block owners and other helpers – in many of our projects, this is by far the biggest contribution.
(investigating varieties for import, helping organise screening of candidate varieties, providing briefing information to multiple grower meetings, sourcing grafted walnut trees, arranging import documentation, contracting quarantine facility (Plant & Food Research), organising budwood collection, etc.).
(screening candidate varieties, locating trial blocks, cutting budwood for grafting, defining layout plans and measurement methods, doing some of the measurements and organising students to help with others, carrying out data entry and analysis, writing up results and reporting to grower meetings)
…and trial block owners
(planting and caring for the trees for 15 years, working around the inconvenience of having a mixed-variety block, carrying out some of the measurements).
Kevin Parish, the new General Manager of Walnuts NZ, feels at home at the walnut factory in West Melton. As a child he grew up on Yaldhurst Road and back then it was much more rural and the factory on Tricketts Road with its tree filled orchard environment reminds him of his younger days. Kevin remembers visiting a neighbour’s house which was a mini two-acre farmlet with an array of animals and birds. In those days there was plenty of outdoor activity, biking to school, fishing, skiing, and other sports. He still manages to strap on the skis and get out for the odd game of golf or tennis. Cycling the many trails of the South Island is his latest passion. After returning from China, he decided to see the country in a different way and so one of his first big purchases was a good gravel bike. A few classic adventures have been had since, check out the photo of his Alps to Ocean (A2O) ride in 2020.
His career has taken him far away from Canterbury, he worked in Hong Kong for three years and then moved to China for a further four years. He talks of significant cities like Chongqing that few in the West have heard of and the nuances of life in China. Kevin’s wife comes from a rural village near Kunming in Yunnan province. Yunnan is in many ways the breadbasket of China with temperate climate and fertile soils. It’s a beautiful province with high mountains that shares a border with Tibet, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Incidentally, the population of Yunnan is 48 million and most homemakers have walnuts and walnut oil in their diet. The last figure that we have is that 800 thousand tons of walnuts are produced there annually. They certainly know what walnuts are!
When he last lived in Christchurch Kevin was the Regional Manager of New Zealand Trade & Enterprise’s office with responsibility for Canterbury and the West Coast. He then became New Zealand’s Trade Commissioner in Hong Kong and was involved in promoting trade and building strategic relationships for New Zealand.
In his last position in China, Kevin was the founding CEO of Primary Collaboration New Zealand (Shanghai) Co Limited (PCNZ) based in Shanghai. He was in this role from 2015 and established PCNZ on behalf of the New Zealand shareholders: Scales Corporation, Sealord, Silver Fern Farms, Synlait, Villa Maria, Bostock NZ, Freshmax and Kono. In 2018 he was involved in the establishment of the New Zealand Business Roundtable in China (NZBRiC) and was voted in as the inaugural Chairman.
Kevin’s wide range of experience also includes running his own business in New Zealand. He has a Bachelor of Commerce from Canterbury University and has studied leadership at Otago University and completed an executive programme in Food and Beverage at Monash University in Melbourne. He says that he was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the 2016 and 2017 Te Hono Bootcamp’s at Stanford University and is part of the Te Hono alumni. This initiative involves leaders from across the Primary sector and aims to move the sector from volume to value.
Having someone with this impressive background leading the work of taking our walnuts to market is a huge asset. When asked about what he’s learned more recently in his career Kevin talks about the strengths of business collaboration and the connections he has with potential clients in Asia.
Like a lot of us he’d never thought about walnuts as an industry but now he’s committed to his new role and building the profile of walnuts. Kevin sees opportunities in nutritional oils and other niche products. He wants to bring a consumer centric approach to how the Co-op can grow and deliver more value for its shareholders.
We wish Kevin every success, for success of the factory is success for everyone who supplies walnuts to the co-operative and the wider industry as a whole.
This machine is certainly quick and efficient at shaking walnut trees. It belongs to Jo and Andrew Horsbrugh whose Tunlaw Farm orchard produced the largest crop in New Zealand this year. 61 Tonnes in total.
This machine was imported from an almond orchard in Australia
Click on the panel to the right to see the video of it operating.
Dave Malcom reports that he bought this Feucht tree shaker for the 2022 season.
It cost about $3500 and worked really well. He could use it by himself but it was quicker with one other person helping. With two people (one on the tractor and the other attaching the sling and cable) it was about one minute per tree.
This is a realistic option for a smaller orchard.
See it operating in this video
Angela and Pete Collier had some experience with walnut trees, but hadn’t thought much about walnuts as an industry until they came across the opportunity to buy 142 Tricketts Road in September 2019
Jenny and Malcolm Lawrence who established the walnut orchard and built the house and factory, decided to sell. Walnuts New Zealand Co-operative had already taken over the walnut processing business and were tenants in the factory building.
No strangers to a challenge!
In 2007 the couple had moved from town to 5 acres on Old West Coast Road to live in a shed while their little house was built. Angela was 8 months pregnant at the time and they welcomed yet another baby before they moved into the house two years later.
When a second son, Hamish came along they had outgrown the house and started to look for something bigger which was when they found Tricketts Road. They really liked what it had to offer in terms of income and something new for them to try with a view to the future and eventual retirement. They say they have a habit of diving headfirst into things and working out all the finer details later and figured out that trees had to be less trouble than sheep in the long run, so they took the challenge.
There are four children in the family, James 17, Sophie 15, Rebecca 13.5 and Hamish 6.5. The older three are at Rolleston College and Hamish is at West Melton School.
The block is 4 hectares with 203 Trees made up of Blenhiem 150s, Meyric, Rex and a few stray Stan trees who like to make a nuisance of themselves. Who knew there were so many types of varieties of walnuts? As well as this there’s the innovative house and the factory building.
Both Angela and Peter are Christchurch born and bred and have been living in West Melton for just over 15 years, so they guess they are ALMOST locals. All the children have gone to West Melton Playcentre and School and have been involved in local groups. Mum, Dad and the kids are keen volunteers when they can be and like to support local.
Their Old West Coast Road property had just eight walnut trees and they had only heard about a factory in the area, but had never gotten to harvesting the nuts and taking them there.
At Tricketts Road, their initial harvest was during the first Covid lockdown so it was a real baptism of fire. They were lucky as Jenny and Malcolm helped a lot and Malcolm’s sister and husband are also big fans of harvest, so they were able to lend a hand under strict no-contact Covid rules. The first harvest was the biggest so far and a VERY steep learning curve. They have been making adjustments each year and they’re developing a less labour-intensive processes, particularly as they both have to do some work off orchard during harvest. Pete is a self employed locksmith and Anj works part time in admin, as well as running the busy household.
The property is certified organic but this wasn’t something they had thought too deeply about before. They always limited the use of chemicals and sprays on the previous block (unless Pete got them out when Anj wasn’t looking). As a mum Anj has always been keen on doing what she could, to lessen their impact on the world and is conscious of recycling and reusing where possible and limiting too many nasties in their food. The family are big fans of op shops and garage sales too, for bargains and giving things a second chance at life. The Colliers are loving learning about it all and watching the info about low carbon footprint with interest.
This season they just bit the bullet and bought a MacMaster mini mac 1.6mtr harvester which goes on the front of the tractor. It made the picking up so much easier and quicker this year, but of course created a challenge with the washing and sorting stage. Being a problem-solving tinkerer, Pete has put his head together with his equally practical brother and come up with some solutions – so watch this space
When asked if they’d had any funny experiences since living there the reply was, “Oh my goodness so many ….. mostly involving rodents appearing out of nowhere, we all know rats love walnuts! Lots of challenges and learning experiences.” Another experience was trying to explain their brown hands after not realizing the real reason you wear gloves when you are harvesting is to avoid the black stain from walnuts.
Living on the orchard has been a learning curve. Becoming commercial landlords as well as trying to renovate and raise a family has been a challenge. Having an established income generating orchard is a plus and they often talk about how much blood sweat and tears must have gone into making the property what it is. The sunsets through the big lounge window are amazing, as are the views of the alps which change with the seasons. It is always calming for the Colliers, walking through the trees during the various seasons and watching the nuts develop while speculating about how good the harvest will be. This really is a piece of paradise for them.
They have a cat called Chicco who is a very good hunter and often brings in rodents and rabbits as presents. He looks friendly and is very fluffy but don’t pat his tummy, or he will take your arm off.
Their 2.5yr old black lab, Dora, likes to live up to her name by exploring and has a very shiny coat from all the walnuts she cracks, shells and eats from the paddock (and the pantry).
There is also a wee flock of chooks who like to free load and not produce many eggs but clean up the scraps.
The family reckon “we now know more about walnuts than we knew there was to know”, but love learning and are keen to learn more now that they have really settled in, and life is slowly getting back to normal post Covid.
They are a very busy growing family. James is a big tropical fish fan and has several tanks. He also loves heading to the gym and plans on heading to Massey for Vet Science. Sophie and Rebecca are both keen Netballers playing for both Rolleston College and West Melton Netball Club, while Hamish is enjoying his first season playing Rippa Rugby. Pete enjoys tinkering with vehicles, fishing and four wheel driving when time allows and Anj is currently studying for her Real Estate license as well as baking, lawn bowls in the summer, ‘sometimes successful’ flower gardening and enjoying the occasional novel when time allows.
They are keen on involvement in what is a good low carbon footprint business and really looking forward to learning more about the industry and experimenting with different equipment and techniques.
To conclude, the family says they have always enjoyed being part of a growing community although they do have concerns about current rates of growth in terms of its impact on water and infrastructure in the area. West Melton is the only home the children have ever known and they are lucky to have a community that is full of lots of different people who make it what it is.
They have been really impressed with how welcoming everyone has been to the ‘Nutters Club’ and how helpful everyone has been with sharing their knowledge. They are looking forward to continuing to get to know others, learning more and being part of this growing industry.
by Dave Malcolm
On the 12th of February 23, 2022 the Open Day for new growers was held at Andrew and Jo Horsbrugh’s property. 45 people attended including some reporters. The attendees listened to presentations on the walnut industry overview (myself), how to grow walnuts (Heather), financial information (Victoria Westbrooke), Carbon footprint (Steve Thomas), nutritional value (Caroline Lister), and processing and marketing (Andrew). Russell Hurst also talked about his reasons for choosing to grow walnuts.
There were a lot of positive comments from people attending and also a great article in Farmers Weekly and a great interview that Heather gave on Rural Exchange programme on Magic Radio. Attendees went away with a 16 page handout giving summaries of the presentations.
The work that went into the Open Day will be very useful for our industry. The carbon footprint research done by Steve Thomas at Plant and Food Research, has shown that walnut growing results in very low carbon emissions and possibly sequesters more carbon than emitting. The financial budgeting work done by Victoria Westbrooke and myself has shown that walnut growing is profitable (gross margin of $2773 per hectare) in the long term when the price is $3 per kg and yields are 2.3 tonnes per hectare. Caroline Lister’s presentation on the nutritional benefits for walnuts brings to light a whole range of benefits confirming walnuts as a superfood. I recommend you have a look at the new webpage about the open day. There are videos of all the speakers and a copy of the handout which was given to attendees. See our website https://walnuts.org.nz/thinking-about-commercial-walnut-growing/
I would like to thank the presenters who gave their time on the day and put in many hours researching. A big thank you must also go to Andrew and Jo Horsbrugh for setting up their property for the venue, to Basil Meyer for his work on publicising the event and to Heather North for the countless hours organising the event.
It was great to see walnuts on national television news a month ago. The article was about a partnership between NIWA and CropX (a company making digital decision and planning tools including soil moisture monitoring equipment) and was filmed at Andrew and Jo Horsbrugh’s orchard.
Andrew also reports that Country Calendar will be doing a feature on walnut growing soon and will be screened later in the year. This is all good publicity for our industry.
By now your harvests will be over and your walnuts will be dried and stored. Growers have reported a bumper harvest and with good weather for harvesting and drying. I acquired a tree shaker from Feucht Obsttechnik which was really effective and was easy to use.
I wasn’t able to attend our seminar at the Lincoln Events Centre in May but in my place, it was ably chaired by Sonja Olykyn. Presentations were the same as given on the Open Day in February. There is a report from Sonja in this newsletter.
Many of you, especially our members who are too far away to attend our annual general meetings, may be interested to know how NZWIG funds are spent each year. The financial reports presented at the annual general meetings are available for members to view on the NZWIG’s website.
Here is a general outline of our 2021 income and expenditure. All figures exclude GST.
Last year we generated revenue of $10,671 (2020: $6,606), with approximately 50% of this income coming from your membership subscriptions ($5,096; 2020: $4,644), a portion of AgMardt research funding ($4,348; 2020: Nil), and the remainder from interest earnt on the term deposit and sales of walnut grower manuals. On the expenditure side, NZWIG spent $2,245 on accounting and audit fees (2020: $2,245), research expenses ($6,750; 2020: $2,780), NZ Horticulture Export Authority levies ($500; 2020: $250) and website expenses of $2,821 (2020: $2,047). There was also some minor spend on venue hire for meetings and a membership to the NZ Tree Crops Association. Please note accounting fees previously included an annual $2,000 honorarium paid to the Treasurer. Our current Treasurer, Kaylene Fenton, is voluntarily undertaking this role unpaid.
NZWIG holds three bank accounts and the balances as at June 20th are as follows:
Equipment for sale
Selwyn and Jeanette Adams have a small walnut orchard at Darfield and now that Selwyn is 85 they’ve decided that it’s the time to sell and move on. So the following 4 items of equipment are for sale.
It’s not our policy to publish email addresses or phone numbers so if you wish to enquire about these items please use the ‘Contact Us’ button at the top of the page. Please put, attention Selwyn Adams.
Walnut washer recently engineered to eliminate drive wheel slipping. $1800
Plywood box dryer with fan to force dehumidified air through nuts. $800
Auger with reduction gear box. $600
Horticultural drying trays. $1 each
Please use the ‘Contact Us’ button in the above menu if you’d like to enquire about these items and put ‘Attention Selwyn Adams’
Not all mowers do the same job. If you’re mowing less often to save diesel and carbon emissions you may have found that you’re left with large amounts of long unmanageable grass on the orchard floor. Or it may be your mower just won’t cut it!
A flail mower with grass mulching blades could be the answer. The mower shown here belongs to Andrew and Jo Horsbrugh. They leave the grass until it’s longer, cut it with this mower and find their blocks can be harvested not long after.
Flail mowers normally cost more and use more horsepower but they can handle most swards and chop it up finely. The result is grass that dries up quickly and mulches down into the soil more easily.
Mowers of this type often have heavy ‘hammer’ type blades (flails) for breaking down prunings and hedge clippings but these can normally be replaced with cutting mulching ones.
See the results in these pictures
Spinning disc mowers will cut almost any kind of grass quickly, cleanly and efficiently.
However these mowers will leave a sward of intact grass lying on the orchard floor which may be difficult to remove. After all they are designed to keep the crop intact for hay and silage.
Rotary toppers and slashers. Quick and easy to use unless you let the grass get long. Then you may have to slow down and take several passes. The multi spindle topper is great if you like to cover a lot of ground, mow often and keep the place tidy. The single spindle slasher type is best for ‘rougher’ work.
Zero Turn rotary mowers. Quick, efficient and manoeuvrable, great to get around trees and keep the place looking like a park. Better if you like to mow often, not so suitable for long grass.
By Sonya Olykan.
On a lovely Sunday afternoon in late May a keen group of walnut growers gathered in the Habgood Room at the Lincoln Event Centre. Some growers had travelled from afar, including Russell Hurst from North Otago and Kate and Rob Wardle from Alexandra.
Before the presentations Kevin Parish, the new General manager for Walnuts New Zealand Coop, took the opportunity to introduce himself to the group.
The first presenter was Dr Victoria Westbrooke who is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Land Management and Systems at Lincoln University. Her area of research is agricultural management with a focus on developing improved farming systems to enhance farm profitability and sustainability. Her presentation was “Financial Budget Information – income, and costs for setup and operation” and outlined the establishment costs of setting up an orchard, ongoing capital expenditure, the expected production from the orchard as it matured, and the associated revenue.
lThis was followed by Dr Heather North’s presentation “Results from the 2005 and 2011 walnut cultivar trials”. Heather has been very involved in the development of the walnut industry in New Zealand. She was a founding member of the NZ Walnut Industry Group and has been active in walnut-related research for over two decades. Based on the 2005 results, for those of us with established orchards, it is reassuring to know that Rex is ‘pretty good’ and came in second. Early results from the 2011 trials show Lara and Rex trees growing and producing the best so far. It will be interesting to see how the other varieties, such as Howard and Tulare, stack up in the years to come.
Dr Steve Thomas, a Senior Scientist in Climate Smart Systems at Plant and Food Research, rounded out the afternoon with “Environmental Impacts of Walnut Orchards”. Steve and Dr Sam McNally (Manaaki Whenua) undertook a research project for the Walnut Industry Group investigating ‘Carbon emissions from New Zealand walnut orchards’. Steve’s presentation covered this research and also looked at water usage and nitrate losses from growing walnuts.
Throughout the presentations there were questions, discussions, and sharing of experiences and knowledge.
Dave Malcolm was unable to attend so the seminar was ably led by Sonya Olykan.
For more information, please visit the ‘Members’ library section on this website. https://walnuts.org.nz In the ‘Research’ section are two of the topics presented: ‘Cultivar trials’ and ‘Carbon emissions from NZ walnut orchards’.
A few years ago I was wondering what to do with our reject walnuts after harvest. It must have been a bad year for undersized nuts. Then I started thinking about raising pigs after someone telling me that you never go back to eating bought pork after having home raised pork.
The famous Jamón ibérico (Ibericon ham) is from pigs that graze on acorns, chestnuts, herbs and roots. An internet search of whether pigs eat walnuts found that wild pigs in North America feed on wild walnuts. Various vet sites say that farmed pigs are not affected by walnut shells when eaten. They actually discard the shells out the side of their mouths and eat only the kernels.
Once establishing that it was safe to feed pigs walunts in-shell, I then began reading up on how to raise pigs. As pigs are social animals, they are happy with the company of other pigs, meaning at least two. They need only a small space. We raise ours in an area about 15 metres by 8 metres. They need shelter, so I built a pig hut 3m by 1.5m by 1.6m high with a wooden floor up off the ground with a generous bed of barley straw. I even used building paper on the walls, which soon got ripped off by the ungrateful occupants. To complete their needs, a water trough with a stop cock and a sturdy feeding trough for feeding them bought pig nuts, crushed barley and food scraps. (We don’t just feed them walnuts). Pigs will also enjoy digging up the ground with their powerful snouts for grubs and worms. All this variable diet gives the pork a delicious flavour. It is not a good idea to feed pigs too much carbohydrate food like bread or potatoes as this makes them put on more fat than meat onto their bones.
We thought the fencing was adequate until we discovered they easily escaped through or under the standard fencing in a few hours, so we hastily erected a three reel electric wire fence held up by standards. They very quickly learned to keep away from it!
Local pig farmers often advertise weaner pigs, 4-5 week old piglets that are weaned. These cost around $90 each. They are available at any time of the year. After a few days settling in they soon get their appetite back and quickly start to put on weight. At this stage, feed them as much as they can eat, called creep feeding. We don’t feed the weaners walnuts in shell but instead run the walnuts through our cracking machine. After about 6 weeks their teeth are strong enough to break open walnut shells. There are specially made feeds for young pigs which can be bought from stock food suppliers or farm supply stores like Farmlands. The commercial pig farms can fatten pigs from birth in 5 months for pork and 6 months for bacon. I have found this to be the case with the Landrace breed. If you leave them any longer they just add more fat onto their carcass and it’s a waste of money buying food for no extra gain in pork. I have put excess fruit from our fruit trees in the freezer for our pigs and you can ask your local baker, supermarket or restaurant for waste food they throw away.
Pigs don’t need any treatment for health issues. They are usually vaccinated as weaners before you take them. Two males can sometimes fight, often over food and one may get injured, so I prefer to get females. Some people say their meat tastes better.
Once the pigs have gained sufficient weight (approx 5 months from birth) then it’s time to book in their demise with a homekill butcher. The person killing them will know if they are big enough. We don’t actually weigh them but you can ask the homekill butcher after they are killed. They will engage someone to come to you to kill, gut and remove the hair from the pigs. You may need to dig a hole for the offal. This can be a challenging time for the owners so it pays not to get too attached to your pigs. Definitely don’t call them by affectionate names, give them names like chop or bacon. Our first pigs were called Donald and Kim! (Trump and Jong-un). You will need to decide on what cuts of pork to tell the butcher, or sausages, bacon or ham. This is then returned to you in frozen packages ready for the freezer. You will need to have sufficient freezer space.
I have calculated that our home grown pork costs about $5 per kilogram after taking off the costs. Which are approximately:
Weaner purchase: $90 each
Feed $140 (two pigs if supplementing with walnuts)
Killing charge $80 per pig
Butchers charge $200 – $1.20 per kilogram (bacon, ham and sausages is extra)
Total $680 – divide by 140kg (dressed weight of two pigs) = $4.86 per kg of pork
Pigs are easy animals to farm. They are friendly, clean (when not wallowing in mud) and intelligent animals. They put on weight really fast and can save you a lot on those increasing expensive supermarket purchases. And feeding them your reject walnuts saves you money instead of the local rats getting fat and happy!
Invisible ecosystem under our feet!
A science mission is set to explore one of the final frontiers of untapped knowledge on the planet – the fungal networks in the soil beneath us.
English Young Science Writer of the year 2022, Zara Hussan, 14, writes about friendly fungi.
2022 – A great season in Canterbury
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