Duke of Berkshire®
The most natural and animal friendly pig life possible
Animal welfare is Kees' number one priority. He believes in the intrinsic value of the individual animal and has dedicated himself to honest, welfare friendly and professional handling of all pigs. His Berkshires live outside year-round and can take shelter form the sun, wind, rain and cold in small, mobile 'pig hotels'. Every time and again, the pigs are moved from one lot to another. So the soil can recover, and so the pigs have a fresh new piece of land to dig and mess about in.
Being outside enables the pigs to show their full natural behaviour. Rooting with their snouts is an integral part of this. The pigs also love to wallow (take mud baths) in one of the mud pools. As pigs have no sweat glands, taking a mud bath on a hot summer day will really help to keep their massive bodies cool. Living outside also helps build the pigs' natural resistance and makes them far less susceptible to infectious diseases. As a result, Kees has been able to reduce his use of antibiotics to zero.
The goal is to farm sustainably and reduce food-waste as much as possible.
For example, the pigs are fed in part by unsold organic bread from the Dutch supermarket chain 'Ekoplaza'. We also try to minimize our carbon footprint and use of arable land for harvesting pig-food.
Kees is also the first farmer to experiment with his own invention; the pig toilet, where he teaches the intelligent pigs to defecate and urinate in different parts of a pen. Collecting the urine is easy this way, and can be used as an alternative to artificial fertilizer.
The solid dung can be composted with leaves, to improve the humus content of the soil. Another massive advantage is that by keeping the urine and dung separate, no ammonia is released into the pigsties.
Marcus Polman (culinary journalist, jury member of MasterChef):
“Scheepens' pigs live in piggy paradise.”
(Het perfecte varken, van boer tot bord, 2013)
Kees's farm is not only organically certified by SKAL, but Kees takes it further by putting more focus on animal welfare. The Dutch Society for the Protection of Animals has given it their ‘***Beter Leven’ stamp. And the Foundation for Pigs in Peril has given it 5 stars. Five-star pig farmers meet even stricter criteria to guarantee a decent life for the pigs. The animals can enjoy the outdoors, root around, and take mud baths. And although they are eventually slaughtered, their lives and their behaviour are as natural as can be.
“Compassion for animals is so natural to us,
that we can become insensitive to their suffering and death
only through traditions or hypnosis.”
The Berkshire pig is one of the oldest English pig breeds and originates from the British county of Berkshire. English statesman Oliver Cromwell was already praising the Berkshire pigs for their excellent meat quality some 300 years ago. He used the pigs to feed his army. The breed later gained in popularity among the English aristocracy, including Queen Victoria.
Branded Pork Chain Concept
Kees has a dual purpose with his Duke of Berkshire® concept; the consumer must get a fantastically delicious piece of meat, and the animal must have a fantastically good life. As the consumer is willing to pay more for a delicacy such as the Duke of Berkshire®, this money can be invested in giving the pigs their higher level of welfare.
"Walnoot & Wilg"
The Walnoot & Wilg Berkshires Foundation was founded in 2015. The foundation's objective is to preserve the almost extinct Berkshire breed and to improve the welfare of farm animals in general, and pigs in particular. The foundation is able to do its good work through gifts and contributions.