‘Ethical Farming’ best encompasses a number of our core beliefs around how we farm.
- Sustainable farm practices
- Ecologically sensitive practices
- Organic standards
- Humane animal care
- Improving the land we are caretakers of
- Working with our animals and environment, rather than forcing it to work our way.
We currently don’t, and most likely won’t, brand our products with certifiers and logos, as it is more important to us to find the best standards of flora, fauna and land management, and meet or exceed them, for our farms health, than for bureaucratic or sales purposes.
We are constantly learning and improving, and Cyan does huge amounts of research to ensure we are doing our best.
Both Cyan and I have completed Certificate III in Agriculture (Pig Husbandry) as well as numerous workshops on other animals, flora and land management practices. We are both registered apiarists.
We love our animals, it is as simple as that. They are fun, intelligent, cheeky, and an endless source of amusement, and frustration.
Buy pork or mutton from us, and you can join the RSPCA 'choose wisely' initiative, letting your loyal customers and future customers know you are part of ethical eating.
The way we farm reflects that, and keeping our animals healthy and happy for as long as they are with us is a primary concern.
Our farm is being kept small enough that we can continue to do the diverse types of activities, the way we want. We can look after our animals in ways different to large scale farms where it just isn't necessarily feasible. We don't want to lose that.
So, our ethos is to work WITH our animals, our land and our plants to achieve our goals. It seems counter-intuitive, but it actually works out easier in the long run, if slower initially. But slow is ok. This way puts less stress on them, and leads to happier, healthier animals and systems.
There are tons of standards and manuals that can be used to assist with Humane treatment of animals, many are optional. It takes time to learn, and some of the ways we do things aren't in those manuals, as they are designed mainly for large commercial operations, not small holdings.
We often won't be going for 'certification', as these are often expensive and designed for large scale or full retail operations, however, this doesn't mean we can't do our best to self-manage our operations to meet or exceed the same standards.
Most of the certification and welfare standards are in-line with what our ethos leads us to do anyway.
There are lots of ways to say it, but I am going to pinch an excellent description from a respected animal welfare organisation - the RSPCA. In their standard, it says:
The Standards are based on the ‘Five Freedoms’:
- Freedom from discomfort: by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
- Freedom from pain, injury or disease: by prevention, rapid diagnosis and treatment.
- Freedom to express normal behaviour: by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
- Freedom from fear and distress: by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
Although these ‘freedoms’ define ideal states, they provide a comprehensive framework for the assessment of animal welfare on farm, during transport and for slaughter. These ‘freedoms’provide the framework for the standards in this scheme, presented as follows:
- food and water
- environment, housing and accommodation
- animal health and husbandry (including surgical procedures)
Self-assessmentBeing a qualified risk management professional for my job , I (Martin) have converted many of the standards into spreadsheets so I can assess how we full-fill the requirements of them, and we can close any gaps over time. Self-assessment isn't foolproof, however we believe that it is better than not doing it at all, and it gives us an independent, industry guide to track our progress against. When I assess how we full-fill the standards, one component is to identify a status against each 'element' and 'sub-element' Comply (●), Exceed (●), Not Applicable (●), Not Yet Compliant (●)
RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme - Pig StandardsWe are NOT approved by RSPCA pig standard, as they have advised our small size makes it impractical for them and us. However, we love their fantastic program and endeavour to meet or exceed it anyway, our self assessment below is our interpretation of how we think we go.
|RSPCA Pig Standard sections and info||Total||Comply||Exceed||N/A||No|
|# of total||133||72||36||22||3|
|% of total applicable to our situation||111||65%||32%||3%|
|1. Pig supply||4||2||0||2||0|
|2. Food and water||11||4||6||1||0|
|3. Environment, housing and accommodation||36||19||7||10||0|
|4. Stocking density||14||4||9||1||0|
|5. Husbandry and surgical procedures||8||6||2||0||0|
|6. Management procedures||18||8||7||3||0|
|7. Vet health plan||6||2||1||0||3|
|8. Cleaning and hygiene||2||2||0||0||0|
|9. On-farm euthanasia||4||3||1||0||0|
|10. Handling and Transport||15||10||2||3||0|
|11. Slaughter and Processing||14||12||1||2||0|
Bunyip Hollow is an extension of our own passions and beliefs.
So it is only natural that our aim is to have a sustainable, organic and ‘ethical’ farm and vineyard. We will be growing what we like to eat and buy.We are Certified Organic with Visionary Organics.
We comply as a minimum to the National Standard for Organic and Bio‐Dynamic Produce from the Australian Government – Dept Agriculture & Water Resources and try to exceed wherever we can.
Our animals are being organically raised, grown and fed, in the most ethical way we can. We do have to kill some of the animals, but we want them to be as healthy and ‘happy’ as they can be, and not the really young age so common in commercial farming.
We are restoring our ‘Billabong’, ‘Fens’ and ‘Lagoon’ areas to natural condition.
We are using a more ‘passive’ method of farming (read: lazy?), meaning wherever possible we will work with what the local environment and plants can deliver rather than trying to force it to give us what we want.
The term ‘organic’ is thrown around a lot, and we find that often people don’t really know what it means. Whilst we are certified organic, that doesn’t really tell YOU what we do to meet the standards, and become certified, and whether that meets YOUR expectations.
We can’t put all the information here, as the National Standard is 69 pages long, but we will put below the broad things we do to meet (and exceed) this standard. It is a long list of requirements, more than 300 of them.
Anything blue is above the standard.
- Soil testing – We have soil tests that test parts per billion, and can pick up any residual chemicals or contaminants in the soil, even from 5-10 years ago! This is one of the most direct, non-bureaucratic ways of checking we are organic and our soil is healthy, cause anything our plants or animals are having will show up in the soil, and visa-versa. This is done where our animals and crops are grown, and by an external person.
- No use of Genetically Modified (GM) or Nano technology plants or products
- No pesticides used.
- We only use organic feed and ‘inputs’ of human grade
- Animals are not sold if they have been treated with antibiotics, and they will only be used if a vet deems it necessary
- Our seeds and seedlings are from certified organic suppliers to ensure they have no GM origin
- We have organic management, biodiversity and landscape management plans
- 50% of our farm is natural uncultivated state (trees, grasslands, wetlands and waterways) -requirement is 5%
- All our pest removal (plant and animal) is humane, sustainable and organic
- Soil biodiversity and health
- We are protecting our native habitats and even have some rare and uncommon animals breeding on our farm
- more to come..
Standards and PracticesWe follow the principles of the standards and practices below, and try and exceed them wherever we can. Due to our small scale, or our organic basis, some standards exceed others. Links to the information or the organisations are below if people want to learn more (be ready for LOTS of reading).
All Farm or multiple animals
- National – Organic and Bio-Dynamic Products Standard (AS 6000)
- National – Farm Biosecurity Manual for Grazing Livestock
- National – Standard for Organic and Bio-Dynamic Produce
- Victoria – Improving the Welfare of Animals (DRAFT)
- Victoria – Livestock Management Act
- National – Beekeeping Guide
- National – Biosecurity Code of Practice – Honey Bees
- National – Biosecurity Manual for Bee-Keepers
- National – Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle (not yet regulation until 2018-19)
- National – Companion Handbook to Model Code of Practice for Pig Welfare
- National – Environmental Guidelines for Piggeries
- National – Farm Biosecurity Manual for Pork Production
- National – Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals – Pigs
- National – RSPCA Pig Standards
- Victoria – Pig Welfare Standards and Guidelines
- National – Farm Biosecurity Manual for Poultry Production
- Victoria – Code of Accepted Farming Practice for the Welfare of Poultry
- National – Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Sheep (not yet regulation until 2018-19)
- Victoria – Code of Accepted Farming Practice for the Welfare of Sheep