Growing pigs is a relatively new thing for the Castle family at Koallah Farm. In fact it was only last year, after our on-farm abattoir received its pork licence that we introduced pigs to our property for the first time.
Until that point we had relied on other reputable free range growers for our online pork sales and for our Simply Free Range butcher shops in Mt Waverley and Rosanna.
While we still rely on six other free range pig producers to breed our Koallah Farm approved animals, we’re now successfully raising the pigs right here on the farm.
We currently purchase 16 piglets every fortnight when they are weaned off their mothers at about 6-8 weeks of age. The piglets are brought to Koallah Farm and tended to daily in large paddocks where they have access to shelters and are free to do whatever they like and to grow at their own natural rate.
We’re lucky to have some stony rises country at Koallah Farm where underlying volcanic rock provides grazing areas that are less likely to become wet and boggy. This is important to us, because it means we can farm pigs without them causing long term damage to vegetation and the natural environment.
Access to pasture plays in important role in the diet of pigs. Aside from the succulent fresh grass, pigs forage beneath the surface where the soil and plant matter contains all sorts of natural minerals and proteins that keep them healthy. We also supplement their feed with a vegetable-based meal.
Depending on their individual growth rates, the pigs spend between 3-4 months at Koallah Farm until they reach processing weight. Each week, we process eight pigs in our boutique abattoir for your online orders and for our butcher shops in Melbourne.
At any one stage, we are now raising about 100 pigs at Koallah Farm. Controlling the environment they are grown in, their nutrition and they way they are cared for is important to us and to the quality of our pork products.
Ingredients2 kilograms of marrow bones cut into roughly 50mm pieces 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar 1.5 kilograms of meaty chuck, brisket or rib bones 3 onions 3 carrots 3 celery stalks 2 leeks (white part) 3 thyme sprigs 1 teaspoon of crushed black peppercorns 1 whole garlic bulb, cut in half across the cloves 2 handfuls of parsley stalks
MethodPlace the marrow bones in a stockpot or very large saucepan, add the vinegar and about 4 litres of cold water - or enough to cover the bones. Let it stand for one hour. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. While the marrow bones are soaking, place the meaty bones in a roasting pan and roast for half an hour, or until well browned. Then add the roasted bones and the vegetables, roughly chopped, to the stockpot or saucepan containing the marrow bones. Transfer the fat from the roasting pan into a saucepan and add one litre of water. Place it over a high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to make sure that no lumps coagulate. Then add this liquid to the bones and vegetables and add more water if required to cover the bones. Bring the stock to the boil, skimming off the layer that rises to the top. Reduce the heat to low and add the thyme, peppercorns and garlic. Simmer the stock for at least 8 hours. The longer you cook the stock the richer and better it will be. Just before the end of this period, add the parsley and simmer for another 10 minutes. Strain the stock into a large container. Cover and cool in the fridge. Remove and discard the congealed fat that rises to the top. Transfer the stock to smaller, airtight containers and place in the fridge, or for longer-term storage, the freezer. The stocks will keep for 2-4 days in the fridge and three months in the freezer.
More and more consumers are quite rightly starting to question the term 'free range chicken'.
Rather than venting how many producers fall well short of meeting customers' expectations, we thought we'd just let you know what the term means to us at our farm.
The team at Koallah Farm is now growing our own meat birds on our property near Camperdown in south-west Victoria.
All our poultry live in our paddocks - protected from predators by Saydi our trusted Maremma (pictured below). The chickens can do whatever they want, all the time. We don't even lock them up at night time.
This means our chickens are genuine 'pasture-raised' chickens as they can eat grass and roots and forage for bugs, worms, larvae and more. They also benefit from lots of natural sunlight.
Although we still provide a feed pellet for additional nutrition, the natural proteins and minerals from our rich volcanic paddocks are essential in growing healthy, fully-feathered chickens with thicker skins and darker, stronger-flavoured meat.
It takes us a full 12 weeks to grow our chickens and it's worth the wait. As you can see, they develop quite differently with much more muscle in the legs from roaming around.
There's no doubting you can taste the difference. Pastured chicken is much less watery, not quite as soft and has a distinctly earthier and more gamey flavour.
If you cook it a bit slower you'll release all the natural flavour and we think you'll love it.
Keep an eye on the website for more Koallah Farm-listed chicken products. At the moment, we've started with whole birds, but very soon we'll be able to provide all your favourite cuts as well.