Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork

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Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork

TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork is meat from pigs that have been reared according to a mode of production which is traditional in practice. The traditional rearing method of production allows for a slower more natural growth rate whilst prioritising minimising stress levels and high welfare standards.

DESCRIPTION

TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork is pork from Pedigree Welsh Pigs that have been reared according to a traditional system of production. TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork carcass is known for its fine cut balance providing good loin eye muscle, long length of loin and well developed hams. It has a high killing out at a minimum 65 % and grades well at all weights. TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork has a propensity to lay down fat but this is not excessive with a minimum back fat thickness of 10mm at pork weight and 14mm at heavier weights (75kgs deadweight). The meat is light in colour as defined by an independent chroma meter analysis which described it as being low in red and yellow values providing a less intense meat colour. This meat colour will darken as the pig achieves heavier slaughter weights and at higher slaughter weights there is visibly high veining of intra muscular fat (marbling) without excessive back fat.

When cooked the meat has a succulent delicate pork flavour and savoury aroma which both develop on maturity. The pork is very tender because of the overall higher fat levels within the meat. Because of the natural higher fat levels of the pork it may have higher cooking losses which will vary depending upon the cut of meat.

Compositional data

Calorific value: >300kcals/100g

Back fat: Min 10mm (at pork weight > 50kgs (deadweight)

Min 14mm (at heavy weights> 75kgs (deadweight)

These distinctive and unique eating qualities are derived from a combination of:

− The long history of the Pedigree Welsh breed and its history of selective breeding for these particular carcass and eating qualities

− The traditional rearing methods of production which priorities minimizing stress levels and high welfare standards and allows for a slower natural growth rate.

While the title refers to the word ‘pork’, this specification applies to all carcass cut pork and offal.

METHOD OF PRODUCTION

TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork is reared using specific traditional practices which are very different from conventional commercial systems of production.

TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork is pork only produced from birth notified Pedigree Welsh Pigs. All pigs must be birth notified with the British Pig Association or a pig breeders association keeping a Pedigree Welsh Pig herd book. Each animal can be identified through its individual ear tattoo, which provides authenticity and a high level of traceability.

TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork pigs follow a traditional feeding regime. The pigs are fed a diet that is low in protein where the protein percentage of purchased feed does not exceed 20% post weaning. Low protein levels in the traditional feeding practice in combination with the natural slower growth rate of the breed contributes to a reduced average daily live weight gain compared with modern systems of production. The propensity of the breed to lay down more fat also contributes to a reduction in efficiency in the conversion of feed to lean meat. The feed used is usually a combination of straight feeds supplemented by composite feeds. Straight feeds, where possible are grown on the farm or if feasible sourced locally. When pigs are kept in a “tyddyn” (smallholding) traditionally their feed is often supplemented by food co-products. These include whey and milk waste from the dairy industry, yeast and brewers waste from the brewing industry and bread waste, cereal and biscuit meal. Diets are also supplemented with hay and forage crops and occasionally the mediaeval tradition of pannage occurs where pigs forage in woodland on acorns and other seasonal nuts and fruit. Wherever possible alternatives to soya should be sourced from the EU such as rapeseed meal, field beans, sunflower meal and/or peas. Synthetic dietary additives and growth promoters are not allowed.

ENVIRONMENT

TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork is from Pedigree Welsh Pigs that comply with the traditional practice of being extensively reared and provided with a natural rearing environment which allows for a natural growth rate and minimal stress

TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork is from hardy pigs that are extensively reared both indoors and outdoors. All rearing systems must adhere to a high welfare standard (to the RSPCA Freedom Food standard or equivalent schemes). In addition each holding must follow The Code of Recommendation for the Welfare of Livestock: Pigs or equivalent schemes.

Extensive Outdoor rearing; - When outdoor reared, the pigs must be kept at a max stocking rate of 30 sows/ha and minimum paddock space of 40 m square per fattened pig (between weaning to finishing).

Extensive Indoor rearing; - When extensively reared indoors sows must be kept in straw yards with a minimum floor space of 3.5 metres square per sow and 1.54 meters square per finishing pig. Rearing on fully slatted pens is not allowed.

HUSBANDRY

All pigs producing TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork must comply with traditional husbandry practices such as;-

Minimum weaning age 6-8 weeks.

Modern intensive husbandry practices including teeth clipping, nose ringing, tail docking only permitted under veterinary advice and not to be regarded as routine treatments.

Castration only allowed following veterinary advice or for heavy pigs destined for traditional products.

Use of gestation and farrowing crates is prohibited.

TRANSPORTATION

Animal transport systems for the TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork are designed to ensure livestock are not caused unnecessary distress or discomfort. Animals must be transported directly from the farm to the abattoir and not transported with pigs from other holdings. Transport and handling must be kept to a minimum and the pigs must be slaughtered at the nearest suitable abattoir to minimise stress.

SLAUGHTER/BUTCHERY

Pedigree Welsh Pigs for the production of TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork are killed as close as possible to where they are reared, preferably in small scale abattoirs and the animals must not endure any unnecessary distress or discomfort prior to slaughter. Stunning/killing equipment must be designed and maintained to ensure rapid and effective stunning or killing.

TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork carcasses must be hung for a minimum of 2 days from slaughter before cutting (but preferably for longer) in chilled storage at a temp below 4 degrees centigrade.

Natural variance in the breed from differing bloodlines and varying systems in which breeders finish their stock can produce a variation in carcass composition and back fat levels. This natural variation requires traditional butchery skills and experienced cutting when processing the carcass. TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork carcasses are butchered using traditional methods, including ‘on-the hook’ cutting, and traditional block cutting.

Minimising the stress for the pigs by adhering to high welfare standards during their extensive rearing, in transport and prior to slaughter plus the breed's docile nature and no known genetic predispositions to stress (such as Porcine Stress Syndrome - PSS) provides low recorded instances of pale, soft, exudative (PSE) or dark, firm, dry (DFD) meat. This is reflected in the tender eating quality of TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork.

METHOD OF PRODUCTION

The Pedigree Welsh Pig has a unique standpoint within the spectrum of British native pig breeds being one of the three major breeds on which the modern pig industry was built. Its carcass confirmation shares the attributes of more modern developed pedigree breeds such as the Large White or the Landrace while retaining the flavour of traditional less improved native pedigree breeds such as Berkshire, Tamworth and Gloucester Old Spot. These specific traits to the breed have derived through careful selective breeding over the past century. Although carcass characteristics such as well-developed hams have improved, the breed retains its traditional phenotypic and genotypic traits such as a natural slower growth rate and a propensity to lay down fat. This in conjunction with its traditional extensive system of rearing, results in lighter coloured meat, recognised for its tenderness with a higher calorific value and succulence on cooking.

When compared to modern crossbred or hybrid conventionally reared commercial pork TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork has:

− less developed muscle colour (lighter)

− increased tenderness

− a more delicate pork flavour

− greater back fat thickness

− higher overall percentage of fat

− greater calorific value

− succulence on cooking

When comparing growth rate; a Pedigree Welsh Pig can take a minimum of 154 days to reach slaughter whereas intensively reared commercial pork can take as little as 126 days. This slower growth is due to a combination of the slower natural growth of the breed coupled with the lower protein feed and the extensive method of traditional production. Lightness in meat colour due to less developed muscle colour and an increased tenderness and delicate pork flavour can all be attributed to this slower growth.

The breeds’ natural propensity to lay fat and its reduced efficiency in the conversion of feed into lean muscle provides a carcass with a higher level of fat compared to modern conventional commercial pigs. TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork has a back fat measurement at pork weight in excess of 10 mm in comparison to commercial pork which has a target back fat measurement of 8mm. At high weights average back fat measurements for TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork are often greater than 14mm. In addition to higher back fat, there is also a higher overall carcass composition of fat, this provides an average calorific value greater than 300kcal/100g as opposed to an average value of below 200kcal/100g associated with more commercially reared pork. This increased level of fat results in increased succulence on cooking.

TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork also provides a defined point of difference compared with pork from other less improved native breeds with:

− less back fat thickness

− better grading across heavier weights

− well-developed hams

− larger loin eye muscle

− superior length of loin

− high killing out percentages

Traditional less improved pedigree breeds have an average back fat measurement in excess of 14mm at pork weight compared to TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork which grades at a minimum of 10 mm at pork weight. At heavier weights less improved native breeds would have back fat measurements in excess of 20mm and often as large as 30mm whereas the TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork grades well at a minimum of 14mm at heavier weights.

The selective breeding of the Pedigree Welsh Pig over the last century has resulted in a carcass that provides larger loin eye muscle, superior length of loin, more developed hams, higher killing out percentages and better grading across heavier weights in comparison to the less improved native breeds. These combined traits contribute to the historical recognition of the TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork being an ideal butcher’s carcass.

The breed’s long history and its natural traits in conjunction with its traditional rearing method of production provides the distinctive and unique specific character of TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork. The key components of a traditional rearing system is to provide the following;-

Natural growth rate

The underlying priority with TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork is for the pigs to have a natural growth rate with a minimum 154 days to slaughter. This is achieved through a low protein diet, of below 20% post weaning which should be sourced locally where possible. Feed can be from straights or composite feeds and can be supplemented with alternative feed stuffs and food co-products from food production and forage. Synthetic dietary additives and growth promoters are not allowed.

Extensive rearing

TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork can be reared in both outdoor and indoor systems but must be natural environments of a high welfare standard (to the RSPCA Freedom Food standard or similar). Stocking rates whether reared indoors or outdoors must enable pigs to exhibit their natural behaviour and if the pigs are reared indoors they must be kept in straw yards and not in fully slatted pens. Intensive commercial husbandry practices such as weaning at 4 weeks the use of gestation crates, farrowing crates, teeth clipping, nose ringing, tail docking and surgical castration should not be routine treatments and are only permitted under veterinary advice. Castration for pigs destined for traditional products requiring heavy pigs is permitted following veterinary advice.

Minimal Stress

The traditionally reared system is designed to minimize stress to the animal throughout its life. TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork pigs are killed as close as possible to where they are reared and preferably in small scale abattoirs. Transport and handling is kept to a minimum to ensure that the pigs do not endure any unnecessary distress or discomfort prior to slaughter. Animals are transported directly from the farm to the abattoir and not transported with pigs from other holdings.

Traditional Processing Practices

TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork carcasses must be hung for a minimum of 2 days to mature, this process develops flavour and tenderises the meat. Traditional cutting methods are used to cut the carcass by processors who have the experience to deal with a traditional product.

HISTORY

The specific characteristics of TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork is supported by extensive historical data, and has been analysed through a program of compositional and organoleptic testing. The study objectively proved that TSG Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork provides a point of difference both in heritage, quality and taste.

The long history of the Pedigree Welsh Pig breed:-

Pigs have a long standing connection with Wales and is noted throughout Medieval Welsh literature. The 11th Century Mabinogion speaks of “small animals whose flesh is better than beef. They are small, and their name varies. They are called moch.” These creatures (pigs) are said to have been introduced to the modern world by Arawn, the King of Annwfn (King of the Underworld). Welsh Arthurian legend also features the enchanted wild boar the Twrch Trwyth and the ‘white-tusked chief of boars’ Ysgithrwyn Benbaedd as well as the oracular white sow Hen Wen.

There is little history of intensive commercialised pig keeping in Wales, for the most part pigs were kept indoors or allowed to forage seasonally outdoors. The heritage and tradition of the Pedigree Welsh Pig breed is largely part of a ’tyddyn‘, (smallholding) or peasant Welsh tradition. There is also a tradition of small-scale urban rearing in the industrialised towns where the twlc mochyn (pigsties) were common place in the gardens of many terraced houses. Dry stoned corbelled pigsties were also a noted form of vernacular Welsh architecture especially in the South of the country.

As a grass growing nation, lamb and dairy production are prominent in Wales. Traditionally smallholders would sell their lamb and beef animals at market as they would command far higher prices, this allowed them to keep their pigs for themselves; making pork the dominant meat for home consumption in rural areas. The tradition was to rear pigs through summer and autumn and to cull seasonally in winter on-farm. Each rural area would have an itinerant slaughter man who would provide a killing and cutting service, often in ad hoc spaces in barns, outbuildings or even outdoors. The annual kill would be a social occasion with all members of the family contributing on the day. Fresh products such as ffagots (faggots) would be made from the plwc (heart, liver and lungs), the head would be brined to make brawn, the intestines would be cleaned to be used as casings for fresh sausages, fresh meat would be shared locally and the sides and hams would be cured and preserved to provide meat for the coming year.

The Pedigree Welsh breed can be traced back to an indigenous white lop eared breed of pig kept in Wales for as long as records exist. The breed has provided a huge contribution to modern day agriculture being one of the three breeds on which modern hybridized pig production was based. However, with the unrelenting drive towards intensification, leaner pork and bacon carcasses were required, regardless of the importance of flavour. The larger breed companies that dominated the market did not favour the Pedigree Welsh Breed and this resulted in a dramatic decline of pigs kept. In 2002 only 82 Welsh Pigs were registered within the herd book, in 2005 the breed was declared an endangered species and has since been classified as a rare breed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

Reference: DEFRA