One of the biggest tasks one may encounter is taking a risk to make a difference to the world. For Daniel Todd, that risk fabricated as a pig farm. Daniel’s endeavour has evolved, from taking action on the very emotive consequences of commercial farming to; finding a balance between the volumes he produces, while retaining the “home grown” feel, along with communicating and educating people on farming in a real and natural way.
Daniel and his wife Claire live on a free range pig farm on the outskirts of Levin. Having disliked factory farming for years, he wanted to use his marketing and logistics knowledge to help free range farmers reach their customers directly. To do this Daniel created a website to enable farmers to sell and promote their products online. After talking to many busy farmers who were reluctant to undertake the extra workload he then thought, why not go the whole hog and prove it can work by establishing his own pig farm and selling online.
With a background in marketing and sales Daniel already had some of the skills required to own and run his own business. However, Daniel didn’t actually know anything about pig farming. A weekend course on pig farming, followed by a ten-day introductory course on general farm management and Daniel jumped right in.
Starting with just 9 weaners and a plan to grow to 12 sows Daniel confesses, “it took over me and now we have 25 sows, three boars and about 150 pigs on the farm”. It has been two and a half years since Woody’s began and it’s clear that over this time Daniel’s passion for his animals and industry has flourished. All of the pigs on farm are kept outside and as a result the breed of pig resembles a lot more of what you’d see in wild New Zealand. The breeds, Devon Large Black and Berkshire are known as ‘heritage breed’ pigs and have a slightly different body composition to the typical pink commercial pig.
The difference in the pigs is not just seen in the paddock, but also on the plate. Due to the environment in which the pigs live, they are antibiotic and hormone free, the composition of the meat is different to your standard bacon in terms of fat to muscle ratio and the taste also differs partially due to breed, but also due to the pigs’ diet. Daniel is very proud to stand by his product as he has seen it through from piglet to pork-chop.
Woody’s Free Range Farm is an ideal enterprise, servicing a niche market with love and attention to detail. Daniel started out selling all of his cuts at farmers markets in Feilding and in Thorndon, Wellington. The weekly markets suited Woody’s as the fresh meat could be sold the same week it was processed. However, the flooding that occurred in June 2015 meant that Daniel and Claire couldn’t attend the markets and needed another way to sell the meat they had on hand. Forty nine minutes after Daniel had compiled a number of meat packs and posted them on the Woody’s website, they were sold out. Daniel still heads to the markets once a month, but the majority of their meat is now either sold online, or directly to restaurants.
To maintain their home-grown feel Daniel would next like to do some of the processing on farm with pancetta and prosciutto now on the horizon for Woody’s. Daniel understands the importance of value added products, for his business and his customer base, and wants to see the number of these products grow.
No matter how the product gets to the customer, Daniel has handled and overseen the process one hundred percent of the way. Being able to communicate that with the customer is a really important and unique feature of Woody’s Farm. For customers to further understand and appreciate the what the company do, Daniel is opening up his farm for a public field day in May 2016. Find out more about the farm, the open day and the products on their Facebook page or at woodysfarm.co.nz.