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Photo: Jan Riephoff

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Stress-free swine

Sausage and meat products from Petra Bulwin

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"Gut Glüsig" is a farm where dozens of pigs lead a comfortable life under the patronage of a charitable organization. They are cared for by agriculture engineer Petra Bulwin, who respects the dignity of these animals up until the end of their lives.

Curly tails wagging, two pigs poke their snouts deep into the feeding trough. Minutes later, they head outside to join the other farm animals. "Our pigs – along with our 25 cows, 11 sheep and our goose – have plenty of open space", says Petra Bulwin. "They are free to move around, play and eat whenever they want."

Two years ago, Petra, 55, took on the managing director position at Gut Glüsig GmbH near Magdeburg. She has been working in and around the nearly 800-square-metre property for the past twenty years. The massive stone walls attest to the estate's past as a Cistercian monastery. And the frugal furniture points to the fact that this was state owned property back in GDR times.

The burly woman with a practical short haircut is responsible for much more than managing the company. She cleans out the stalls, feeds the animals and ploughs the fields – under strict conditions. Her employer, Caritas Magdeburg, which took over the land after German reunification, wants the farm to meet social and environmental standards. The animals are fed exclusively with home-grown, organic feed. Fertilizers and chemical sprays are strictly prohibited. Even the spices for the 40 different types of sausage produced on the farm are free of non-organic substances.

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Caring for the animals is what agriculture engineer Petra Bulwin likes best.

Photos: Jan Riephoff.

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Bulwin heads from the stables to the slaughterhouse next door. "Our animals die a relatively pleasant death", she says. "No loading onto trailers, no transport, no stress." The animals are anesthetized with electricity. Fresh meat is produced twice each week. The sausage and meat products are sold from the farm as well as in health food shops and restaurants.

As the sun sets on the horizon, Petra closes the heavy door of the slaughterhouse and heads to the office. "I need to finish up some paperwork", says the woman from Saxony-Anhalt. But caring for the animals is what she likes best. As a child, she kept horses.

She always wanted to do "something with animals" as a profession – although her parents advised her to choose a different career. Still today, Petra likes to spend her spare time with animals. Her son is an active equestrian show jumper and Petra often accompanies him to tournaments throughout Germany – and takes care of his horse.