Customers continue to expect that they can demand specific numbers of piglets, of specific sexes, on specific dates to suit their busy lifestyles.
Let me be simply and robustly clear:
- I cannot time a litter to be ready for collection on an exact date specified by a customer.
- I cannot predict the exact farrowing and weaning dates, even if I have seen the boar serving the sow and counted forward 114-115 days from that date.
- I cannot predict how many piglets will be farrowed.
- I cannot predict how many piglets will be boars and how many will be gilts.
- I cannot predict how many piglets, of each sex or in total, will survive to weaning.
- I cannot predict how many customers on the waiting list will change their minds.
- I am not a prophet and I cannot force nature to defer to the wants of the modern consumer.
Traditional breed pigs reared on a small scale are not production line items churned out in their thousands and available off the shelf whenever a customer decides they have a want that must be fulfilled—NOW.
Nor are pigs craftsman-made items with a predictable production time that can be fitted to a customer’s hectic and demanding schedule.
Pigs produced on a small scale like ours are subject to a huge number of variables that we can allow for but never control in the same way that a production line is controlled.
Yes, it would be very useful to have a magic sow that will farrow 33 gilts and two boars, have them all survive to 10 weeks old, and have that 10th week expire precisely on Easter Sunday when all 16 waiting customers want them.
Unfortunately, I don’t have that magic sow. Nor a pig boutique with a magic piglet factory churning away behind it. Nor do I have flying pigs for that matter.
I just have a small herd of sweet-natured pedigree Berkshires, that produce litters of varying sizes, on varying dates, with varying rates of survival, and that happen to produce some of the best damned pork there is.
If, as many customers tell me, that is not acceptable then they should go for a product that does meet those consumer wants: commercially produced meat that’s always on the shelf when wanted and has a carefully crafted image to flatter the customer’s ego into believing the product truly is a life-changing experience hygienically sealed in plastic wrap.