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What do the various terms mean?

Outdoor bred, outdoor reared, organic, free range…. you may see various descriptions on pork and pork products, especially when shopping in supermarkets, and it’s not always clear what they mean or what the difference is.

We think it’s important to be clear about exactly how the pork you eat is reared, so here’s an explanation about each of these descriptions written by Alastair Butler of Blythburgh Free Range Pork.

Outdoor bred – this means the pigs are born outdoors but moved indoors after about 28 days, and will spend the rest of their lives intensively reared indoors. Outdoor breeding herds are common in parts of East Anglia and easily identifiable by the half moon tin arcs in which the breeding sows are housed. There is a perception built that all pigs live outside but in these circumstances it is only the adult breeding animals and not the pigs where the pork comes from.

Outdoor reared – this means the pigs spend some of their lives outside and are typically moved indoors to be finished, in some situations the pigs will spend all of their lives outdoors but the pigs are still intensively reared in huts with limited space equivalent to indoor production.

Organic – these pigs are required to be fed on organic feed in order to be certified organic. Organic rearing may or may not be outdoors and / or free range, in fact many organically reared pigs will spend large parts of their lives indoors.

Free range – to be truly free range, pigs should have been born and lived its entire life outside, with access to open space and have the opportunity to display natural behaviour. This is the only way in which Blythburgh Free Range Pork has ever reared its pigs.

Sausage King note: As regular readers will know from my account of my Food Safari experience in Suffolk – Free Range Pig in a Day; I tasted Blythburgh Free Range Pork first hand and it is incredible and it makes so much sense. The pigs clearly lead happier, more relaxed lives, and I am absolutely convinced you can taste this in the meat.

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