Naturally raised free range pigs and free range chickens

Te Rata News

December 2014

We've had a busy year, with chickens laying and the pigs producing.
We raised calves for the first time and discovered how intensive that can be, but very rewarding.
We have had a steady stream of Wwoofers working with us this past year. All of them have loved being here and learning new things. It is a pleasure to share our patch of paradise with them.
We want to take the opportunity to wish you all a wonderful Christmas, remember, God's gift of Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas.

Summer time at Te Rata Family Farm - February 2010

With the beautiful sunshine and warm temperatures, we have enjoyed a beautiful summer this year. The rain in the last week of January topped up the water tanks and has greened up the pasture (ever so slightly) too.

The lambs all headed off the farm before Christmas to be fattened on other farms and the rest of the sheep departed in early February. It will be strange not to have any sheep on the farm, but with the pigs, chickens, cattle and wild goats there's no shortage of livestock - or work.

The farm now has 80 breeding sows, producing lots of lovely piglets who are enjoying being out and about in the sunshine. The sows are being good mums and choosing sheltered places under the trees to farrow (give birth). Within minutes of being born the piglets are up and feeding and within hours they are heading over to meet other piglets and look around at their new environment.

The bigger pigs are enjoying wallowing in the mud to keep cool. They do this because pigs don’t sweat, so to regulate their own temperature they cake themselves in mud; the mud keeps them cool and as it dries it also works are thick sunscreen. Maybe we can market this concept for the health conscious urbanite - free sampler pack with every meat order!

We’ve also been extracting the most yummy honey from the bee hives, so far we reckon we've tasted manuka, clover and pennyroyal. We'll be giving away free samples at our next open day on the 27th March 2010.

First Farm Open Day - 28 November 2009

Bacon and Eggs Au Naturale / Mangawhai Focus

Following on from their very popular appearance on TV’s Country Calandar in May, the Borger family of Te Rata farm at Paparoa held their promised open day last Saturday to allow friends, neighbours, interested parties and natural farming converts to see their progress first hand.

You may recall this former corporate couple who left the big smoke behind in favour of a block of harsh northland land. This, they have turned into a style of life which works for and with them on a natural-cum-organic basis well outside the square of local farming practices with poultry and pigs taking precedence over traditional sheep and cattle.The first noticeable improvement was the growth of the operation. Met by a very jovial yet very pregnant Rebecca, there was no hiding the fact that she is but a month away from adding a fourth little member to her brood. Brood being the operative word – perhaps
it’s a ‘chook’ thing. Nontheless the current three are happy, healthy Kiwi farm kids who have their respective chores to do as Kiwi farm kids have done for generations.

For newcomers this was a day to see how such an operation could be successful, and ask a lot of questions. For previous visitors like myself it was a progress report on the growth and development of their ideas. Numbers on the day were well over a hundred and included mums, dads, grandparents
and kids. It allowed everyone the chance to get up close and personal with the hens, collect some eggs, come within metres of a whole range of pigs in their natural state and purchase some of Te Rata Farm’s fine products.

The poultry side of the farm is as it was with 9000 rusty-coloured egg factories doing what they are bred and fed to do. The main expansion has come in the pig department, the success of which has actually created it’s own dilemma. Bert Borger has adopted a natural breeding programme with his Berkshire pigs, and litters over a dozen piglets are not uncommon. He has also recommissioned the local butchery to market his products together with farm-raised beef. Although he has some city outlets for his bacon and ham, supply is now outstripping demand.

“We recently sent some product to the Browns Bay Market which was very successful,” said Rebecca, and like many niche-market products, this may be where the success of Te Rata Farm smallgoods lies.

Visitors came generally from within the Whangarei, Warkworth and Dargaville triangle but this open day also attracted a Korean television crew. As a result of Mike King’s appearance on the Sunday programme last May in defence of factory-farmed pigs they were looking to inform and promote an alternative to a country where factory farming is the norm.

Run by Bert and Rebecca plus a willing band of Wooffers, future open days will be well anticipated as the word spreads.

Numbers are limited, but another open day will be held in March. Registration is at, and strong, clean footwear is essential. The farm is in Porter Rd, which is off the Paparoa-Oakleigh Rd. If travelling from Auckland, turn left on to State Highway 12 at Brynderwyn and go through Maungaturoto. As you come into Paparoa, turn right on to the Oakleigh Rd. Porter Rd is the second road on the left.

Spring Piglets Galore

Spring at Te Rata arrived with the loud squeal of many piglets. The last week of September and the first week of October were full on with 19 sowsSpring piglets galore farrowing all in quick succession. Litters ranged in size from a modest seven to the largest ever at Te Rata of sixteen. Some mothers were better than others at selecting good farrowing spots, with quite a few piglets needing rescueing and returning to their mums after a bit of drying and warming. Due to the wet weather and the last of the winter mud we ended up building simple tent-like shelters for many of the litters just to keep them dry and warm. At last count we had over 200 piglets running riot and having a ball, with some of the smarter ones feeding from several sows (and growing extra fast).