I’ve been thinking about the environment lately and what more we can do help it.
Although the well-being of the pigs that live on our land is always our number one priority, we also have a responsibility to look after the planet as a whole.
I’ve had arguments with many an embittered vegan over the environmental pros and cons of raising animals on an industrial scale.
I firmly hold the belief that an animal can enjoy a rich and satisfying life before going to slaughter, but I do still have to concede the vegan’s point regarding waste and gas emissions. UK farms are constantly reminded to keep environmental best practices at the heart of their day-to-day activities. We’re no different here – recyclable materials are meticulously collected and the animals’ waste is collected to be used for manure.
However, I always have the nagging feeling that there’s something more that we could be doing.
During the winter months, our overheads often end up rising significantly, due to the cost of heating our workshops and offices. Not only do we currently use oil, which is terrible for the environment, it’s also costing us a fortune. As we are a relatively large organisation, with a lot of buildings to heat, I’ve decided that we should take the plunge and invest in renewable energy. By ploughing a large amount of money into the initial setup costs, we may well lose in the short term, but within 20 years we should hopefully start seeing the returns.
Although we have the space to install a small wind farm, I don’t like to think about the disturbance the installation would bring to our pigs, who would be sheltering beneath them. Instead, I’m electing to put some money into Bio mass fuel, more specifically, wood pellets. In addition to installing wood pellet burners throughout the farming estate, I’m also going to be planting my own coppice of Willow. In 5 years times or so, we’ll be able to heat our buildings with completely sustainable energy.
To begin with we’re going to have to make do with simply purchasing wood fuel pellets online. They’re relatively cheap and at least we’ll no longer have to pay more money for gallons of oil to be delivered every few weeks.
We own around 20 acres, here in Essex, although we only keep pigs on half of the land at any one time. The meadows are rich and unspoiled, just begging for a more diverse batch of plants to be introduced to the ecosystem.
Part of our plans for 2017 is to introduce around 20 new types of wild flower, shrubs and bulbs to our meadow land. Before we think of planting anything, we’ll need to consider the effect that these myriad new organisms will have on our local ecology and ensure that there aren’t any plants that might be poisonous to our pigs. Hopefully, within a few ears time, we’ll be able to encourage more natural wild life to share the pastures with our few hundred pigs.