By Ivor Traktor, Farming Correspondent (intern)
A Suffolk farm is creating history by successfully breeding pigs and cows together to produce the ultimate ‘meat machine’.
The offspring, affectionately called ‘pows’, yield both beef and pork produce, which means farmers can enter two markets for the price of one.
Experts say this will revolutionise the food industry by creating cheaper beef and pork joints, sausages and bacon for the supermarket.
The breeding programme is being pioneered at Hatchet Farming Estate near Bawdsey, and the pows are getting bigger, leaner and stronger by the day.
Farmer Jeremy Giles, speaking exclusively to the Suffolk Gazette, said: “The pows are fairly big – about mid way between a pig and a cow. We have carefully developed the breeding programme so that the beef and pork joints are in separate parts of the animal. This means the meats are not mixed up.
“We’ve enjoyed terrific topside beef, brilliant bacon, sizzling sausages and gorgeous gammon – all from the same animal. We’re still working on the rear end structure, but we fully expect to perfect rump steak as well.”
So far Mr Giles has grown an impressive herd of 60 pows on his 300-acre estate. He will be presenting them to the Food Standards Agency early next year, and already has the backing of meat trade associations and the Meat Marketing Board.
A retail insider said: “This new animal is unique and solves a critical problem for farmers everywhere – how to diversify their produce with no extra expense.
“By breeding pows they can produce pork and beef products from the same animal, halving their costs. These savings will ultimately be passed on to the consumer, so we can all expect cheaper Sunday lunches within a year.”
Developing the first pow was no easy task. Mr Giles and his team had to find a small cow and a large pig in order to make breeding physically possible.
“We put them together in a cozy sty, put down plenty of straw and turned down the lighting. We then left them alone to let nature take its course. We confirmed within a week that the cow was pregnant, and five months later a litter of six pows arrived.
“The were all pink with black markings with a curious shaped head. We have successfully kept the breeding programme going and the animals are all strong and healthy.
“We’re delighted with the pows. The only odd thing is the noise they make – a combination of a muffled moo and a loud oink.”