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Northland Farmer Demonstrates Pigs in Paddocks

November 13, 2009

A Northland farmer is opening his farm gate to the public to prove that pigs can be farmed successfully outdoors.

Bert Borger, of Te Rata Family Farm, raises heritage Tamworth pigs.

In May, comedian Mike King and a film crew from TVNZ’s Sunday programme broke into an indoor pig farm in which pigs were kept in crates, sparking debate about the ethics of pig farming in New Zealand, and the viability of farming them outdoors.

Bert and his wife, Rebecca, operate one of the country’s largest free-range egg farms, and have recently moved into pigs.

A forester by training with strong feelings about land management and the way in which animals are kept, for Bert it is a bottom-line that the pigs are farmed as naturally as possible – and that means living outdoors their entire lives.

“There’s been a lot of talk recently about what’s possible and what’s not, and what free-range truly means,” he said.

“That’s something that every farmer has to address for himself or herself, but for me, keeping them indoors at any stage of their lives – even for finishing before they go to be processed – just isn’t on. I want them to have as natural a life as possible.”

Te Rata Family Farm is a 400-acre property at Paparoa, on the Northern Kaipara Harbour, and in May featured on TVNZ’s Country Calendar programme.

As well a pigs, the farm features 9000 free-range organic hens, and cattle, sheep and goats.

The pig operation is not certified organic due to a national shortage of certified organic feed, but Bert farms with organic practices and avoids using chemicals.

The Borgers have their own butchery in Paparoa, where sausages, bacon and hams are made, and also supply pork to selected outlets in Auckland and Northland.

The open day will be held on Saturday, November 28, from 10am to 3.30pm. Admission is free but visitors will be invited to make a donation to the Tearfund Gift for Life Project (http://, which provides training, basic materials, seeds and livestock for farmers in developing countries.

Numbers are limited, but another open day will be held in March. Registration is at, and strong, clean footwear is essential. The farm is in Porter Rd, which is off the Paparoa-Oakleigh Rd. If travelling from Auckland, turn left on to State Highway 12 at Brynderwyn and go through Maungaturoto. As you come into Paparoa, turn right on to the Oakleigh Rd. Porter Rd is the second road on the left.


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