Bryan Hickman was born and raised in Wiltshire, England, where following his college education he went on to become head stockman for Lord Radnor at the prestigious Longford Estate. Encouraged by his parents to see a bit of the world, a working holiday brought him to Australia, and he has never looked back.
Whether it was the landscapes or the community, Bryan kept gravitating back to Manjimup during his backpacking days. Where he comes from is beautiful, but he believes the Southern Forests is on another level. Bryan is here by choice. He could live anywhere in the world, but he chose to live in Manjimup. His visiting family enviously commented, ‘where do you go for a holiday that is better than this?’. Bryan has never had a problem realising how good it is here. The supportive and friendly community was a major drawn card for the Englishman.
On his scenic 110-acre property in West Manjimup, Bryan has focused on raising livestock in an ethical manner and owns one of the few pasture-raised pork operations in the state.
Bryan’s breeding program ensures all the pigs are cross-bred with 50% English heritage breed, Berkshire. Berkshire pork is described as the Wagyu of beef as it is the only pork that has marbling throughout the meat. The pigs may not grow as fast, but they sure do taste the best.
Bryan is committed to raising his pigs in gentle way, allowing them to roam free in the paddocks all the time. The only exception being when the sows are expected to birth, where they are provided with a protected enclosure for their own safety.
The piglets are protected from chilly temperatures with a warm infrared light at one end of the enclosure, keeping the litter in one safe place.
Bryan is not prepared to operate like an intensive piggery and have the sows birth in restrictive pens just to get consistency. In a commercial piggery the sows will have 2.2 litters per year, whereas at Yanmah Pasture Raised Pork the sows only have 1.7 litters with more time to recover.
Another stark difference between a commercial operation and Bryan’s is that the piglets grow at a slower, more natural pace. Commercial pigs grow to ideal size in 18 weeks, but at Yanmah Pasture Raised Pork they do not reach size until 25 weeks of age. A huge 7-week difference.
One of the key innovations on the farm includes a series of feeding gates with adjustable gaps in them. As the pigs grows and their dietary needs change, they can only get access through the adjustable gaps to specific foods based on their size, and subsequent age and needs.
With a rise in consumer awareness and demand for pastured raised pork, the farm will be gradually increasing its production from 600 piglets to around 1,500 piglets per year.
The pigs at Yanmah Pasture Raised Pork, are some of the most well exercised pigs around. With 40 acres to roam, they sure do walk a lot. Pork that you might find in the supermarket labelled as 'free range' comes from pigs that are given about 8m² each - whereas Bryan's pigs each get about 600-700m². This eventuates in great muscle tone and combined with a targeted diet, consumers end up with a genuinely tasty product. One of the butchers Bryan supplies with pork even has a wait list for the beautifully textured ham.
Yanmah Pastured Raised Pork can be purchased via Bunbury Farmers Market, Dirty Clean Food, Crafty Meats (The Swiss Butcher) and Ruby’s Organics.
Bryan Hickman has seen much of the world, but has no doubt in his mind, the Southern Forests is a great place with great products coming through here. Bryan is a proud member of the Southern Forests Food Council and supporter of the Genuinely Southern Forests regional brand.
Photography by Tristan McKenzie for Genuinely Southern Forests.