'A happy pig is a healthy pig': The Dutch farm putting animal welfare and sustainability first

 De Goedge Gevulde farm
De Goedge Gevulde farm
By Igor Arabaolaza & Olatz De Solaeche
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Meet the Dutch pig farmer putting animal welfare and sustainability first


Since 2018, Dutch farmers Heimen Vos and Inge Vleemingh have been running 'De Goed Gevulde', a nature-inclusive recycling farm.

The 17-hectare farmstead is located in an idyllic spot between Mariënvelde and Halle-Heide, along the Veengoot river in the east of the country. 

The green-fingered farmers pride themselves on putting animal welfare and sustainability first, prioritising circular agriculture.

What is circular agriculture?

Circular agriculture is a form of farming which focuses on minimising the impact on the environment - farming with nature, rather than against it.

It involves working with natural cycles, reducing energy consumption, implementing organic agricultural practices and ensuring the well-being of farm animals.

De Goed Gevulde farm is home to boar and grass chickens. They also grow grain, rapeseed, black cumin and alfalfa. 

Heimen and Inge feed their animals entirely with waste products, which they collect from local supermarkets, bakeries and greengrocers. 

They ensure the welfare of their animals by allowing them to walk around outside and grow more slowly, which they believe results in "healthier, tastier meat." In regular stables, pigs are slaughtered at six months, while at De Goed Gevulde pigs live to be one and a half years old. 

“Actually, I’m a very bad pig farmer because I don’t know how to really optimise everything," said Inge. "I don’t know how to get 20 piglets from a mother. I don’t know how to raise them as fast as possible. But I do know when I see a happy pig and a happy pig is a healthy pig.” 

The farm has no manure pits, so the manure and urine of the animals fertilises the meadow. This helps to reduce the emission of nitrous oxide and methane from the soil, and increases the biodiversity of the surrounding area. 

Watch the full episode by clicking on the video player above.

Rural Rebels is a series that brings you stunning stories of food and drink producers around Europe who are rejecting industrial agriculture and modern lifestyles and instead embracing traditional and sustainable practices.

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