Stages of pork production
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Every day, Australian pig farmers raise and produce some of the finest pork on the planet. We’re proud of what we do and the animals we raise.
From piggery to plate, we care deeply for our animals and the lives they lead while in our care. Learn more about the different stages of Australian pork production.
Mating and pregnancy are the first steps of the pork production cycle.
They follow a general pattern starting with the female pig (known as either a gilt – a female that has never had a litter of piglets, or a sow – a female that has had at least one litter of piglets):
During this time, pig farmers carefully manage their pregnant sows. They provide them with an environment that helps to prevent bullying and fighting between sows, whilst ensuring all the needs of the sows are met.
A week before giving birth, pregnant sows are moved into the farrowing sheds or paddocks where they will give birth. When it comes to giving birth:
When piglets are 3-5 weeks old, it’s time for weaning. This means they are removed from their mothers.
Once slaughter weight is achieved, the pigs are transported for slaughter. This is typically at around 5 to 6 months of age.
The pigs are calmly moved in small groups through the receiving and holding yards towards the slaughter process.
Approximately 85% of pigs are stunned with carbon dioxide (CO2) gas while the remainder receive electrical stunning. The pigs are checked for unconsciousness before being exsanguinated (bled out).
The pigs are then processed to the highest Australian food safety standards, providing Australian customers with some of the best pork in the world.
Once market weight is achieved, the pigs are transported to the abattoir. This is typically at around 5 to 6 months of age.
It is important to keep pigs calm along their journey. Producers transport pigs with a lot of care and extra consideration. This includes:
Pigs are processed to the highest Australian food safety standards. These standards ensure Aussie pigs provide customers with some of the best pork in the world.
At the abattoir, pigs are unloaded from the trucks on arrival and walk down ramps into pens. This area where the live animals are received is called “lairage”.
In lairage, pigs are allowed time to relax and rest. They stay within their farm groups for traceability. Here, pigs have access to plenty of:
Good lairage practice is to move pigs off trucks and into pens with the minimum of noise and without sticks and electric goads.
Pigs generally settle quickly and stay rested until they are processed between two and 24 hours after arrival. If they remain longer than 24 hours, they are provided with food.
There are two ways that pigs lose consciousness at Australian abattoirs:
Pigs are checked for complete unconsciousness before being slaughtered quickly and painlessly with a sharp knife.
While pigs are unconscious, they do not feel pain. They are then bled out, dying humanely without regaining consciousness.
There are around 75 abattoirs that process pigs in Australia.
Some abattoirs further process the pigs after slaughter. Processors can also be stand-alone enterprises.
Processing can include:
The pork, processed or whole carcass, is then delivered to supermarkets or butchers for sale.
Butchers are an important part of our pork supply chain. They act as a representative between our industry and consumers.
A whole or half carcass is broken down to meet customer requirements. De-boning and marinating particular cuts can add more value to the meat.