The Middle White is thought to have come about from selective breeding with offspring from the ‘Large White’ and ‘Small White’ (now extinct).The Middle White is characterised as a small pig with a ‘puggy’ flattened face and nose and big pricked ears, giving it the appearance of a ‘Vampire’ pig.
The short nose makes it more suited for grazing as opposed to rooting (will still root but not as effectively as say a ‘Tamworth’) The Middle White have often been described as the ‘beautiful ugly’ pig. It small size and early maturing nature enables it to be used for quality pork production from 16 to 18 weeks of age. Such is its renoun for quality of pork the Japanese paid tribute by erecting a monument to the Middle White “for its outstanding eating qualities”
The Middle White are a very docile but ‘talkative’ pig and have a tendancy to ‘climb’ on the gates/fences/each other at feeding times. The females make excellent mothers and the boars are particularly docile and easily handled.
The British Saddleback was recognised in 1967 when the Wessex Saddleback, from the New Forest area combined with the ‘Essex’ from East Anglia due to the rapidly dropping numbers. The resulting pig was a hardy dual purpose pig, a good milky mother with a docile nature.
The appearance was characterised by unbroken white band over the shoulders and a deep & long black body, lop ears and a long snout. The black pigmentation provides some protection against sunburn.
The saddleback makes an idea ‘starter’ pig for the smallholder due to their excellent temperament, being one of the most prolific long lived breeds known. Whether its is the excellent mothering capabilities, friendly nature (they really love their tummy being rubbed) or the dual purpose ‘pork & bacon’ qualities all in all makes the Saddleback a great choice.
The Large Black are the only UK all-black pig, they are characterised by their large lop ears and long, deep body. Despite their size they are a very docile pig and have excellent mothering capabilities often rearing large litters.They are a very hardy pig & very well suited to outdoor rearing even in extreme climates.
Their fantastic lop ears hang down on each side of their face obscuring their lateral vision, so it is best to approach from the front to avoid startling them. They have often been referred to as the ‘elephant pig’ because of the similarity the newly born piglets have to a very small black elephant. When viewed from behind, just after birth they resemble a small baby elephant, with their huge ears and straight little tails.
The current demand for meat produced from traditional breeds of pigs raised outdoors is growing, particularly after the publicity from celebrities such as Jamie Oliver & Hugh Fernley Whittingstall. The Large Black being a ‘long’ pig is particularly suited to producing bacon. It is much appreciated for its succulent taste and quality.
Tamworths are thought to be the oldest pure English breed of pig. They are very distinctive with their rich golden red/ginger coats, long snouts and prick ears. They are often described as the ‘aristocrat’ of the pig world with their elongated heads and long narrow bodies. They are a very hardy pig, with good maternal instincts with an average size litter of eight. Their ginger/red coats gives them a good degree of protection from sunburn, although access to a mud ‘hole’ is always advisable.
The Tamworth is probably one of the liveliest of the rare breed pigs, often described as ‘boisterous’ This should not be interpreted as being ‘nasty’ or ‘difficult to handle’ they are just a big pig that is full of life, very loving & talkative. Combine this kind of personality with one of the longest snouts and they are renoun as ‘professional rotavators’ clearing rough overgrown land very efficiently.
The Tamworth is one of the great ‘dual purpose’ pigs producing stunningly good pork as well as equally tremendous bacon. Bristol University carried out taste tests using both commercial and rare breed pigs in a scientifically controlled experiment – the Tamworth came out top in the best tasting meat.