Farmer Jo and Husband Andrew are a wife and husband team that started Happy Valley Free Range in 2011. Along with Son Jesse, they run and manage all aspects of the business on their picturesque property ‘Autumn Farm’ in Wandin North, Yarra Valley, Victoria. A combination of red and brown soils and nice gentle slopes, the property copes well with pigs.
Farmer Jo has managed horses and cows for many years and understands the importance of paddock rotations; manure management and vegetation cover to farm land in a sustainable way.
So how did the switch to pig farming occur?
Well, Farmer Jo got an email from International Fund for Animal Welfare (IAWS) in 2009 about the sow stalls and it horrified her. How could farmers be so cruel to pigs? After some research on breeding and raising pigs free range, she decided that Autumn Farm and its team should start a small free range pig business.
So off to NSW Husband Andrew and Farmer Jo tootled twice to do their free range pig courses with Australian Pig Farmer and Lee McCosker. They proudly achieved their Certificate In Free Range Pig Management and Handling and got a very sound understanding of how to manage pigs free range.
Australian Pig Farmer is certified with Humane Choice, who are the leaders in pushing for sensible free range farming rules for all animals. Lee is a fantastic spokesperson for free range farming and gives intelligent, honest and unbiased advice. Farmer Jo has appreciated her support as there are very few free range pig farmers around Melbourne to turn to for advice!
And so now to the current twenty-one breeding sows at various ages and one ‘as happy as a pig in mud’ boar! Around 60-80 grower pigs at different sizes are spread across a number of paddocks. The stables have been converted to cater for the cool room, freezers, utilities and pig feed and the mobile cool room has taken over the horse float car park!
Farmer Jo is pretty serious about providing the best pork she can to consumers and to provide as many options to buy it. Happy Valley Free Range sell at various farmers markets around Melbourne, offer farm gate sales most weeks, and have a home delivery service.