For most of us, a delicious glazed ham will be the centerpiece of our Christmas table – but where does our ham hail from? It’s certainly the season to find out. Linley Valley Pork is Western Australian’s largest pork grower, operating five pig farms across the state including two in the Northern Valleys area – one in Mogumber and one in Gingin. Collectively they supply approximately 3000 pigs per week to their own processing facility Linley Valley Pork abattoir in Wooroloo, 40 per cent of production in WA. The brand is just one belonging to family-owned agri-business giant, Craig Mostyn Group.
Andrew Mostyn, Executive Director of Craig Mostyn Group says the decision to go into live production was one of opportunity, “Having started up the Linley Valley abattoir in 1999 we needed pig numbers to be not only sustained but also grow. So when one particular farmer wanted out of the industry we stepped in and purchased our Gingin and Mogumber farms to ensure these pigs continued to be grown.”
The good news for consumers is that all fresh pork available on our supermarket shelves is grown in WA, as fresh pork cannot be imported into the state. However, buyers must beware when purchasing frozen meat, including Christmas hams. “To ensure your ham is made from 100 per cent Australian pork, buy a bone-in ham or look for the pink PorkMark logo,” says Australian Pork Limited’s Mitch Edwards who is behind ‘Australian Ham Week’ which runs this week, finishing on 6 December.
In the Northern Valleys region, our very own home-grown hams are well underway. At Mogumber they are thriving under the careful supervision of farm manager Kevin Whyatt – a man who really knows his pigs. Kevin has spent the last 36 years working with pigs, gaining his experience from farms in UK, USA, Portugal and now Australia.
“It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle, your hours are dictated by the animals.” he says. “As a kid, I wanted to work with animals, and I just took a liking for pigs.”
His affection for his animals is no more evident than in the boar-house where the massive males grunt raucously as they rush to greet him, eager for a scratch. He has
invested a lot of time in these boars, as the farm relies totally on artificial insemination for their breeding program – and even has their own lab where they can monitor the viability of each collection.
Using frozen semen from South Australia for their nucleus herd also means no live pigs have ever entered the property, just one of the stringent bio-security controls
in place to protect this animal asset from disease. Kevin was farming in the UK when the foot and mouth disease tragically hit, and he says its something he hopes he’ll
never see again – the isolation of the farm at Mogumber offers huge security.
Australia’s disease-free status is one of our key potentials in the industry – coupled with the ever-increasing protein demand from our Asian neighbours, who are but an
overnight air-freight delivery away. Linley Valley Pork are striving to stay ahead in the higher welfare race, anticipating consumer demand to drive changes in the way animals are raised.
‘Sow stall free’ is the latest catch-cry of Coles and as their primary supplier in WA, Linley Valley Pork have invested heavily in systems which support the wellbeing of their animals. Although not yet required by legislation their expanding farrowing houses have been designed to incorporate the ‘freedom crate’ system, which allows the sow more room. With a focus on ‘building for the future’ the renovations currently underway at the Mogumber premises also include group housing for pregnant sows – something they anticipate will become mandatory in the near future.