This story, like all good legends, begins with the dream of just one person.
Ian Jackson, a Scot by birth, was raised in England on a pig and poultry farm where he says he was not interested in the poultry, and graduated from Usk Agricultural College where he specialised in pigs.
After working in the UK in the pig industry, he set off to see the world. He traveled overland from the UK to New Zealand working on various pig farms, and when he arrived in New Zealand he worked on many more. All along, he was hatching plans for his own farm and formulating how he would do things when the time was right.
When he set his eyes on this piece of stony ground at the foot of the Hunter Hills in South Canterbury he knew he had at long last found the place to make his dream a reality. The fact that there was a house on the property was of no consequence to Ian, he would have lived in a tent if it had been necessary because he knew this place was the place he had waited all his life to find – he was home. A little while later when he met the love of his life, Linda, the place became “Havoc”.
From his travels and work experience Ian knew he was going to breed his pigs outside in the open air where they would be free to display their natural behaviour, have plenty to eat and drink, and room to frolic at will. From his life experiences he always knew how he did not want to run his farm. The process of how he does run his farm can best be described as continual improvement. This is achieved by trying to out-think the very innovative and sometimes plain crafty pigs that make up the breeding herd at Havoc.
Back at the beginning in 1991, Ian was considered a bit of an oddity to be farming his pigs outside, but he persisted and now in the South Island of New Zealand it is quite common to farm pigs outdoors.
Linda, a human-resources consultant, had spent most of her life in Auckland. She learned patience when she came to the farm, because pigs do things in their own time.
They called the farm “Havoc” because havoc happens occasionally. Like when the piglets get drunk on the ripe cherry plums (despite all efforts to keep them away), or when a sow decides to farrow in an unusual place. Or there was the time when Yuri the boar jumped the gates. Or the time they had to call in a pig hunter to shoot a wild boar that had come on the rampage. Ian and Linda are now known as Lord and Lady Havoc.
Ian’s policy has always been minimal intervention, no antibiotics, and no growth promotants – just a good old healthy diet of locally grown grain and a few added ingredients such as garlic and cider vinegar to keep the pigs happy and healthy. Ian mills all his own feed on the farm and takes pride in saying “I would not feed my pigs anything I would not eat myself”. The health of the pig herd is also attributable to the fact that weaning of piglets at Havoc is very late by industry standards. It is common practice in the industry to wean as early as three weeks, but at Havoc weaning takes place sometime between week six and eight depending on the time of year and how Lord Havoc is feeling on any given day.
Ian takes his pigs to be turned into pork and bacon in his own specially designed truck, known as the “Havoc Hog Hauler”. This is to avoid the risk of disease from stock trucks on the farm, and minimise the shock of transportation on the pigs.