After spending 20 years maintaining his backyard vegetable garden which evolved into a farm empire, Emile DeFelice decided in 2003 that it was time to branch out into raising animals, specifically pigs. With minimal experience in pig farming, Emile sought the expertise of Dr. Chuck Talbott, animal science professor at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Dr. Talbott, currently retired, known for his research with pigs, took Emil under his wings and gave him an education; they visited 80 different hog farms, he had access to academic literature, and attended seminars and workshops on pasture based pig production. With the help of Dr. Talbott, hard work and dedication Emile was able to start his thriving pasture- based pig farm, Caw Caw Creek, in Columbia, SC.
Emile states that farming is a continuous learning process filled with ups and downs. Emile uses a “Wild Management System” for rearing his pigs, which mimics the varying terrain encountered by wild pigs; high ground, forest, and pastures. The pigs are encouraged to embrace their natural abilities; root, wallow, graze on pasture, and sleeping in herds. Because he understands the negative impact that the pigs can have on land management, Emile does not allow the herd full access to the grazing pastures 100% of the time. Instead he uses a rotational grazing system which is an asset with Healthy, Happy Pigs; Crossbred Large Black, Spotted Poland China, Old
Line Duroc, and Mulefoot make up the pig population at Caw Caw Creek Farm and have access to 200 acres. The pigs are carefully monitored by Eufren, the swine herdsman who loves pigs. His appreciation for pigs is demonstrated in the way he cares for the animals. He has even taken pigs home when he thinks they need extra care.
When asked about his reason for applying to the Certified Humane Raised and Handled® program, Emile replied “I had canvassed what was available and I found Certified Humane® to be the most stringent, serious, believable program. I was interested in content and substance not the label. It was either Certified Humane® or nothing.” Since joining the program he has noticed a significant increase in his sales, and the vying attention of numerous media outlets. Currently Caw Caw Creek Pork is available at numerous farmers’ markets within the vicinity of Columbia, SC and shipped all over the nation.
Reflecting on his experiences as a pastured pig farmer Emile provides these words of advice for people considering exploring a new career in farming “In addition to how you raise your animals you should approach farming as a business. In order for Sustainable Agriculture to grow up we must move beyond romanticizing.” As if owning and operating a farm were not enough, Emile owns and operates a year round farmer’s market that offers baked goods, seafood, meat, and produce. Emile has done this by opening a year round farmer’s market in Columbia, SC. Please visit www.stateplate.org for more info.
To learn more, visit their website at: www.cawcawcreek.com
For information on where to find other Certified Humane® products in your area, visit the “Shop” page of HFAC’s website.