Farmer's happy campers serve up a tastier sausage

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The Independent Online
A herd of Oxfordshire pigs is camping in luxury tents in a farmer's bid to produce tastier sausages. Mick Eadle is convinced his porkers are of a superior quality when reared under marquee-style canvas.

Mr Eadle, of Redways Farm, Beckley, has two of the 15ft tents and each can accommodate 100 pigs.

Robert Bishop, the pig manager at Redways, swears by his motto - "a happy pig is a more flavoursome one".

He said: "They are similar to wedding tents. It's a much more natural and healthier environment for them. Our pigs taste the best. They have fresh air and are not in a horrible dark place where food is pumped to them the whole time.

"They grow more slowly because they burn off more energy, being outside, and are not forced to eat. Also they have the best grub available."

The tents enable the pigs to shelter from bad weather but still breathe fresh air. They are slaughtered at 20 weeks, which is 10 days later than if they were reared in controlled conditions.

Mr Eadle was inspired to put his pigs under canvas after seeing a Danish pig tent. They can be dismantled in an hour and moved to other sites.

The canvas forms the roof of the tent and the surround consists of straw bales. One side opens on to a run.

"Without the bale sides the pigs would rip the tents to pieces. We can alter it be moving the straw. We put more in in the winter and take some away in the summer when it gets hot. The pigs love it," said Mr Eadle.

With the tents, the 30 acre farm is harping back to a system in operation 50 years ago.

"It might be old fashioned but our customers like it," said Mr Bishop. "The housewives want to know how the pigs are reared. It's a welfare friendly system. They can run around and then sleep in deep-bedded straw."