15 February 2019
Christchurch Men’s Prison - Piggery has a profoundly important purpose. This purpose is much more than its role as a supplier to Freedom Farm and its general contribution to the wider primary sector, although both of these are commendable achievements in their own right. The farm’s primary significance lies in the people who work and train there, and the role it plays in creating happier families and communities.
The piggery represents a new beginning for men in prison who receive a potentially lifechanging opportunity to work on-farm. It helps to equip them with qualifications, skills and the right aptitude for productive work to facilitate their successful reintegration into society and supports with securing employment on release.
The piggery is managed alongside the prison’s adjacent beef, sheep and cropping operation. Consisting of two piggery operations - breeding pigs and grower pigs - the farm covers 804ha with the piggery 106ha in size. Pig numbers are close to 8,000 and made up of approximately 875 sows, 60 boars and 70 unmated gilts, with growers making up the balance.
Since the beginning of October 2018, the site moved to an artificial insemination system. The pig breeding units are run as a series of radials which are rotated around different areas of the farm every three years.
While the piggery faces some operating constraints given that it is a prison, it also sees the benefit of near ideal topography for an outdoor pig farm - flat, light, free draining soils and no water bodies.
The judges were impressed by the farm’s strong financial footing and noted the commitment to biodiversity. Rodent and pigeon pest control programmes are in place with minimal water use on-farm other than stock drinking water.
Prisoners across the farm operation are provided with training to enable them to work both safely and effectively within the piggery while obtaining desired employment skills.
Christchurch Men’s Prison - Piggery Principal Instructor Warren Chilton says of the decision to enter this year’s awards, “We are pretty proud of what we have done on the piggery over the years and what we have achieved.
“We thought we had something to showcase and it has been humbling to make it to the finals. It’s been a lot of hard work and as we are not a ‘normal’ farm and have a different purpose and focus, many are intrigued by what we do.”