An accidental venture into pig farming has put the Milestone-duo on the map.
Making the move to Ireland seven years ago to Claremorris, Co. Mayo has proven to be a worthwhile journey for Dave and Diana Milestone.
Setting base at a small holding in Brickens, the husband-and-wife-duo, have starting to make waves in the pig production industry.
‘I always had some interest in pigs. I had a number myself while I was in England. My wife had never owned a pig, so I guess it was a new interesting journey for us both.’ Dave told That’s Farming.
To get up and running, the first pig of the farm ‘Doris’ was purchased for the holding.
Getting off to a patch of bad luck, Doris died two days later, leaving the Milestone couple with seventeen piglets to take under their wing.
‘All were sold apart from Thelma and Louise. Despite the fact they are getting on years, they are still producing piglets to this day.’ Dave added.
Not stopping in their tracks or daunted by the challenge, the couple felt it was ideal to expand their stock-numbers.
The identification of the perfect breed to produce a product to fill the niche in the gap was a challenge for recently-grounded farmers.
Investigation into different breeds took the form of A.I. trailing for two years, using a total of five different breeds of boar on the farm’s sows.
A Hyroc boar, Harry a cross between a Duroc and a Pietrain became the exceptional result, selected for his carcass quality.
The couple have built up approximately one hundred and sixty-pigs of breeds Large White, Landrace and Duroc.
The focus is on producing pigs in the natural environment, with a dedicated commitment to ethical farming practices.
‘We take pride in our animal welfare standards. They are truly free range, are of a healthier nature and love more active lives; for us that has proven to produce a higher quality meat, of an affordable price to place on tables.’ Dave added.
Velvet Pork and bacon products are one of several products, the farm produces.
The full operation is completed on the farm, making the Milestones, very different producers.
Overall general animal husbandry is a core element of the Andarl Farm philosophy.
‘They are bred and fed on the farm. They are slaughtered in a local abattoir. The carcass is then brought to our butcher shop to get it ready for sale. For us, the focus is on farm-to-fork traceability.’ Dave added.
With stockists based in Mayo and Galway, the Milestone entrepreneurs have started to push outside the Mayo border, with a deal in negotiations with a Dublin-based retailer under wraps.
The farm produce now tops the menus of some of the leading restaurants and hotels in Mayo and Galway.
Gaining traction worldwide, through orders that can be made through their eCommerce site, costumers are also based in the U.K.
The commitment of Dave and Diana has been recognised widely, now boasting four awards under their belt following two years on the road.
The West-of-Ireland based pig farm has been awarded a very prestigious title in the farm animal welfare discipline.
Earlier this year, they were the second in Ireland to make history, by becoming the recipient of a Good Pig Award 2017 by Compassion in World Farming.
This award is issued on the grounds of specific criteria; no confinement during lactation or the dry period, no tail docking, teeth clipping or surgical castration, and for the provision of manipulable material and bedding throughout the animal’s lifetime.
Winding back the clock to 2016, the couple were recognised by the McKenna’s Guide and went on to achieve the 2017 Beginning title.
Dave and Diana were tapped forward by a panel of local chefs for a joint All-Ireland Euro-toques Award.
The future is looking very bright for the now Mayo-based duo.
Placing emphasis on shopping local and supporting these enterprises, Dave stressed how the support of the consumer is needed in order to make his sized-business like others, sustainable.
Dave and Diana will continue to focus on producing a quality product, along with expanding their share of the market.