Teen bringing home the bacon – Benjamin sets up pig farm aged just 16

Young pig farmer Benjamin Wreford with some Oxford Sandy and Black pigs

Young pig farmer Benjamin Wreford with some Oxford Sandy and Black pigs

MOST lads Benjamin Wreford’s age like a lie-in and to spend all night playing on their X-box.

But not this 16-year-old, who came up with the idea to launch the pig farming business when he was just 14.

Benjamin grew up on his parents’ arable farm and it was his idea to start up an ethical rare breed pig farm.

Now Benjamin, who has a passion for welfare farming, is a new addition to Hartlepool’s Farmers’ Market, held in the car park of Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience.

He said: “I’ve always had an interest in pigs and we had a spare bit of land so I asked if I could have it to rear some pigs on.

“Pretty soon into it I realised we could make it into a business.”

Benjamin lives with his parents Rachel, 40, and Nigel, 45, and 15-year-old sister Kitty on their farm off Salter’s Lane in Shotton Colliery.

A pupil of The Academy at Shotton Hall, in Peterlee, he is studying for his GCSEs and will be going to Durham Sixth Form College in September to study maths, physics, business and PE.

But he will continue to get up at 6am every morning to feed his 48 pigs and keep the business going.

Benjamin said: “It needs a lot of commitment.”

He gets up at 6am without fail and is at school for 8.30am.

Then after school, he goes home, gets changed and tends to his pigs.

He makes sure they have clean bedding and makes the pig feed, which his family grow on the farm.

The meat Benjamin will be selling at the market this Saturday will be from his outdoor-reared British Saddleback and Oxford Sandy and Black pigs.

He says pigs can go off to the abattoir at 30 to 35 weeks although breeding sows can live to about seven years old.

But he said: “We try not to get too attached to them.

“The only ones we really give names to are the breeding sows.

“But because we know they have had a happy life, it’s easier to part with them.”

But it’s not all work for Benjamin – he meets up with his friends about three times a week.

He said he likes to play football and basketball, but “the farm does come first – the pigs need to be seen to and they rely on me”.

Benjamin plans to eventually take over the family business and extend it to a wider range of animals, including sheep, cattle and chickens and maybe open a farm shop.

The farm has been in the family since 1952, when it was run by Benjamin’s great-grandfather, Frederick Brown Wreford, and was a dairy farm.

Mum Rachel said: “We all pretty much agree it’s quite unusual to have a pig farmer this young.”

The market, which has been running since 2004 and is open from 8.30am-2.30pm, will feature 20 other stalls including Hodgson’s Fish, Mellanby Veg, The Gingerbread Mam and Durham Game.

Market manager Nigel Davison said: “We want to encourage younger people with a passion for food to be part of our market.

“We are always on the look out for new stalls, which sell produce different to the current ones, to join the market – however stall holders can be any age of course.”

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