Illtud 'Bob' Dunsford - A review of traditional native pig breeds and the processing of value added premium products
My family have farmed in the Gwendraeth Valley, West Wales for over 300 years and for as long as parish records exist. In 2004 my partner Liesel and I moved to Felin y Glyn, our 67ha family farm and set about converting a redundant cowshed into a home. Although I had grown up within an agricultural family, my professional career started within the creative industries, initially within freelance photography and then the film industry working to attract film and television productions to Wales. Over the course of eight years I worked on well over 250 various productions acting as a liaison between land owners, local government and national organisations on a diverse breadth of projects ranging from a zombie feature with a budget of £45 to Hollywood productions such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Food had always been a passion, and the rich food memories born from my Grandmothers farmhouse cooking provided the platform for the diversification of the farm business. We drew inspiration from the family tradition of rearing heavy pigs for curing in the pre-refrigeration method, a tradition kept alive in many Carmarthenshire farmhouses and looked to expanding our curing repertoire to take in Southern European methods. In 2011 we established Charcutier Ltd a small charcuterie business specialising in heritage recipe British charcuterie and Southern European products such as salami and chorizo. Our mainstay of production is the native regional breed; the Pedigree Welsh pig, however we also have a small herd of the Austrian-Hungarian curly coated Mangalitsa pig, famed for its high quality lard.
Over the past four years I have travelled extensively researching whole-supplychain pork production. I studied a professional summer school at the Meat Laboratory, Iowa State University, USA and spent six weeks travelling the Pacific Northwest of North America thanks to a Hybu Cig Cymru Livestock Scholarship. Further research trips have included visits to Spain, France, Germany and Italy and a study tour to Denmark to review the pork industry. Lessons learnt in Denmark contributed to the conversion of a former calving shed into a fattening unit in 2014, which hopefully will provide the basis to a larger pig unit. As part of a Welsh Government Supplychain Efficiency project I work as a Consultant Project Manager for the Pedigree Welsh Pig Society on diverse projects such as an application for a EU Protected Food Name for Traditionally Reared Pedigree Welsh Pork, managing a back fat & weighing project to provide a BLUP for the breed, a growth trial with Harper Adams University and a DNA mapping of the breed with IBERS, Aberystwyth University.