From the stable to your kitchen

Here's what sets us apart from the rest.

The production of pork takes time and effort, and when product quality, productivity and animal welfare are all equally essential, there can be no short cuts.

Maltese farmers use tried and tested farming techniques on their small, traditional farms which have been upgraded as necessary to meet all EU standards.

Modern devices, materials and detergents have been introduced to provide comfortable and hygienic environments, but nothing can replace the daily attention of a farmer or their family.
We farm modern genetic lines of traditional breeds to maintain a balance between productivity and welfare while producing the type of pork preferred by local consumers.

These are selected from the most reputable breeding centres around Europe and multiplied locally from the Great Grandparent generation onwards.

Local breeding improves environmental adaptation; a must for Malta’s unique blend of long, hot summers and brief but chilly winters, with high humidity throughout the year.
Our litters of about 12 piglets aren’t the largest in the world, but they ensure that piglets are born as big and strong as possible and that sows can produce enough milk for their litters for the full lactation period.

The farrowing room must provide hygienic, safe and comfortable conditions for both sows and their piglets. Sows can weigh over 200kg and must be kept cool to maintain appetite and body condition. Piglets weigh about 1 kg at birth and must be kept warm so that they can use their energy to feed and socialise. Their dietary requirements also vary greatly, so sow feed is best kept out of reach of the piglets, and vice versa.

The most common solution is the split farrowing pen, where piglets have feed bowls and localised heat sources which only they can access. This division restricts the movement of the sow, decreasing the risk of piglets being injured when the sow lies down, as they are less likely to be underneath her at the time. This system also allows farmers to access piglets regularly to provide dietary supplements or administer vaccines, without constant interruptions from the sow.
While EU law allows piglets to be weaned as early as 21 days of age to maximise productive efficiency, Maltese farmers wean at 28 or 30 days, when piglets are heavier (8 to 10 kg) and more accustomed to dry feed. The increased weight at weaning has been shown to reduce stress and disease after weaning.

This prioritisation of animal welfare is typical of small-scale farmers who visit their own animals daily and hate to see them sick or injured. This is worlds apart from the sub-contracted factory-farming systems which continue to expand and dominate global markets.

As of weaning, young pigs are referred to as weaners. They are moved into group housing structures called Weaning Pools, where litters are pooled together to form larger social groups. Shelter and warmth continue to be provided and their food contains highly digestible proteins similar to those from milk, ensuring a smooth transition from their milk-based diet.

Healthy, comfortable and well-fed weaners can grow by up to 1kg every 3 days, reaching a body weight of 30 kg by 3 months of age.
Pigs are moved out of the weaning pool at 3 to 4 months of age (30 to 45kg), depending on the design and management of the particular farm.

Beyond this age pigs become much better at keeping warm. They deposit some fat under their skin and their body surface to volume ratio changes. They also use their proximity to eachother to control their body temperature; huddling for warmth or spreading out to cool down. This is one reason why pigs must be kept in social groups but with enough area to lie down seperately.

In Growing and Finishing structures, the challenge changes from keeping the pigs warm enough to keeping them cool enough. Optimal management and conditions throughout this phase provide productive efficiency without any down-side to the animal.

A healthy, comfortable and well-fed pig can grow from 30kg at 3 months old to 120 kg by 6 months old; an average growth rate of more than 1kg per day! The pig’s ability to convert a plant-based diet into red meat at this remarkable rate is what makes pork the most widely consumed meat in the world, providing valuable proteins and fats to rich and poor communities alike.
Pig feeds used in Malta are milled locally from imported cereals.

Local milling ensures that safety controls throughout the supply chain can be enforced locally.

Only the best quality cereals are imported to Malta to begin with, thanks to the strict standards set for purchasing. They arrive at Malta’s only grain terminal, where quality is confirmed through testing and where conditions of storage and distribution are well monitored. From there they are distributed to just a handful of feed mills, allowing for regular checks and controls of all potential sources of animal feed.

Local milling also allows the same cereals to be used in the feeds of many animal species, such as cows, chickens, horses and small ruminants as well as pigs. So despite Malta’s small size, we can import cereals in relatively large loads in the holds of specialised ships. This is far more cost effective and uses a lot less energy than bringing in sacks of cereals or ready-milled feeds. Also, no refrigeration or packaging are required to import or distribute these cereals locally. So although local production of meat and animal products does require importation of raw materials, it is far less wasteful and polluting than the importation of products which need to be packaged and refrigerated, or even frozen, during transport.

Piglets get most of their nutrients from their mother’s milk until the day they are weaned, but within 1 or 2 weeks of birth they are ready to start exploring solid feeds. Their first feed formulation is offered at this stage, known as Creep Feed. It is rich in very digestible nutrients.

The piglets start off by playing with the feed, but soon they begin to eat some. By three weeks of age their dry feed intake should supplement their milk intake and take some pressure off the sow, who may have to provide milk for up to 16 growing piglets. By weaning, piglets should be eating enough dry feed that they can be weaned without issues. The delayed 4-week weaning age, used as a standard in Malta, allows more time for the piglets to adjust to a solid diet.

As pigs grow, so do their appetites, their nutritional requirements and their ability to digest nutrient sources. We change their feed formulation as they grow so that at each stage they get just the nutrients they need by eating their fill.

Weaners tend to go through another two diet formulations by the time they reach 30 or 40 kilos; one for pigs between 10 and 20 kilos and another for those between 20 and 40 kilos.

Growers and finishers will eat between 1 and 3 more different diets between the weights of 30 and 120kg, depending on farm management and design and even climatic conditions. In the hottest summer months pigs tends to eat less, so we revert to a more nutrient-dense formulation to ensure sufficient nutrients from the reduced volume.

Sows are fed two different diet formulations according to whether or not they are producing milk for a litter of piglets, as their nutritional requirements change significantly during lactation. The aim is always for the sow to wean a litter of big, healthy piglets without losing too much weight herself.