Big boar, by snapdragongallery.co.uk
Meet Wiltshire's award winning wild boar farmer
Simon Gaskell is a wild boar breeder from Chippenham, discover why he decided to set up farm in Wilsthire.
Sheep, cows, pigs, deer, rabbit are all animals you'd expect to find in the lush countryside of Wiltshire, but Wild boar? Surely they should be roaming around a forest in France not rooting around the rolling fields around Chippenham.
Simon and boar, photo by snapdragongallery.co.uk
But that all changed in 2005 when Simon Gaskell decided to start a Wild Boar Farm.
With 20 acres of woodland Simon decided he wanted to use it more productively. He began testing the water with Guinea Pigs, then Gloucester Old Spots, and after a year of research he decided to breed Wild boar. Starting with a completely blank canvas, bringing in water, putting up barns and fences and applying for a dangerous wild animal license.
Simon currently has 30 boar on his farm, originally from Poland and German they live in two family groups (known as sounders) with one boar per sounder. Boars differ from pigs in several ways, they stand larger at the shoulder than at the haunch, their tails don't curl and they take up to eighteen months to mature.
Feeding time, photo by snapdragongallery.co.uk
Simon has always had a passion for pigs, as a child he helped look after the pigs on his parents farm, but Wild boar have a completely different character. Known in the business as aggressive and dangerous, they are not the ideal farm animal. But that didn't put Simon off, he said: "Our mostly wooded land is the perfect habitat for the boar and I really wanted to make a 100 per cent British dry-cured sausage, which boar is the perfect ingredient."
Now that dream is realised and Simon is celebrating after recently winning the Gold Three Star Award from the Great Taste Awards 2008, the Oscar of the food world. With their first and only entry, wild boar salami with red wine. Simon said: "I am absolutely delighted, the boar are the stars and Andrew and Charlie our butchers make a mean salami! It is very exciting to have the product recognised."
The farm now produce five types of salami and his boar being supplied to restaurants and farm shops around the world, Simon said: "We hang the meat for ten days, then make the salami at a local butcher's, adding seasonings and red wine. We then cure it for two days in high humidity to grow the yeasts that give the flavour. After that the salamis are air dried for up to seven weeks before they are ready to eat, depending on the weather."
With 20 organic acres to roam among the boars among cherry, ash, lime, oak and apple trees, rooting for seeds, tubers, nuts, fungus and worms under the trees, Simon also gives them a supplement feed necessary to tame them.
last updated: 16/04/2009 at 15:21
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