Farmers Weekly Awards: Pig Farmer of the Year

Harnessing high welfare standards and a strong regional identity to market fresh pork to clients, helping generate a £900,000 turnover from a 28ha (70-acre) holding, requires drive and determination.

And that is precisely what Andrew Freemantle has done with the Kenniford Farm, Clyst St Mary, Exeter, that serves processing, retail and catering clients with pork from the farm’s 280-sow herd.

High welfare is a cornerstone of the indoor system. Visitors can watch as in-pig sows have free access to a paddock area thanks to a novel pig bridge. Free range farrowing pens also feature. “I’ve always believed in having high welfare and it’s served me well,” says Andrew.

It proves small can be beautiful. While others can only clamber for the cool factor with customers, Kenniford Farm ticks all the welfare and environmental boxes with RSPCA Freedom Food and LEAF certifications.

But it’s the synergy in sales that matters most. “I started out selling weaners and built up slowly until the pig price crash in the late 90s. That spurred me to open a farm shop on a shoe-string, and despite foot-and-mouth closing it temporarily, we’ve built up a strong following locally,” he explains.

Maximising returns for all pigs sold is key. A growing hog roast service – that saw more than 240 events last year alone – uses overweight or oversize pigs that would be penalised by processors.

Catering vans – including three sited at local Countrywide stores and open daily – help address the issue of carcass balance using up less-favoured cuts of pork. “I’ve tried to make the most of any opportunity that’s opened itself,” he adds.

With six full-time and many part-time staff, the business makes a significant contribution to the local economy and is thriving. Andrew’s input is tremendous it is a success story driven out of sheer determination.

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