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Our Free Range Pigs

Our Pig Heard

Oxford Sandy and Black Pig

The Oxford Sandy & Black Pig sometimes referred to, as the “Plum Pudding or Oxford Forest Pig” is one of the oldest British pig breeds; it has existed for 200-300 years. It is traditional farmers and cottagers pig, of the middle part of the country, especially around Oxfordshire. It seems to be closely linked to the old Berkshire and Tamworth. Did it diverge from them? Or was it the result of crossbreeding between them? Or crossbreeding with an entirely different breed no one is entirely sure.

The Oxford Sandy & Black or OSB has reached crisis point at least twice in it’s past when numbers dropped so low that extinction was a real possibility. Unfortunately it had no Society or herd book to look after its wellbeing. As long ago as the 1940’s boar licensing had dropped to one or two a year for OSB’s but for a few dedicated breeders the breed would surely have been lost. In 1973 the Rare Breeds Survival Trust was formed giving hope for the breed, but the Trust decided not to recognise the OSB. Once again the dedicated breeders were on their own. The decline continued to the brink of extinction when in 1985 the current Breed Society was formed following contact with all known breeders of the OSB by the Societies founder secretary Steven Kimmins ably supported and helped by Andrew J.Sheppy Chairman and Geoffrey Cloke President. The breed owes a great debt and it’s survival to them.

There were 29 herds listed in the first herd book with 15 Boars and 62 Sows. Sadly some of the bloodlines have been lost, but today’s dedicated and enthusiastic breeders are determined to save the remaining lines.The current picture is very encouraging with the rarest bloodlines hanging on and slowly increasing. Hopefully the Breed is at last safe (although still relatively few in number) Recognition by, and transfer of herd book management to the BPA from the Oxford Sandy and Black Society has already brought the hoped for benefits of increased publicity and opportunity to compete in the shop window of BPA
recognised shows.

Our Pig Heard Bloodlines

Boars: Alexander, Alistair, *Clarence, Jack * From which our prize-winning boar comes from.
Sows: Alice, Alison, Clare, Clarissa, Cynthia, Dandy, Duchess, Elsie, Gertrude, Gloria, Iris, Lady, Mary, Sarah & Sybil

The breed has many good qualities, particularly it’s excellent temperament and mothering abilities. Prolific and hardy it is particularly suited to outdoor systems, being good foragers and as they are a coloured pig with a good coat they are far less prone to sunburn. The ground colour should be a light sandy to rust with random black blotches (not spots) with a white blaze, feet and tassel. A medium to large pig with good length and a deep body, good quarters and fine shoulders, strong legs and feet and well set on, giving a free and active gait. A moderately strong head, straight or slightly dished with lop or semi lop ears.

Middle White Pig

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The Middle White was first recognised as a breed in 1852 in most unusual circumstances. At the Keighley Agricultural Show in West Yorkshire, Joseph Tuley, a weaver by trade, exhibited several of hisfamous Large White sows along with other pigs. The judges could not agree, as some of the animals were not considered sufficiently large for the class, and “asthe merits of these pigs were so extraordinary, entirely forbidding recourse to disqualification, a committee was summoned, whereupon the judges declaring that, if removed from the Large White class the pigs would not be eligible for the Small White class”, it was decided to provide a third class and to call it the “Middle Breed”. In this way the “Middle White breed was established.

The Small White had been developed for showing and derived from crossing the local pigs with imported Chinese and Siamese pigs, from which it inherited the dished face, so much the characteristic of the Middle White.

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In further establishing the Middle White breed, Tuley took a second cross with a boar of the Small White breed and females from the best type of Large White in his herd. The resulting progeny were as heavy as the pure Large White, although in type and lightness of offal and head they much resembled the best of the Small White breed. The Small White breed became extinct in 1912.

Due to the “new” breed’s eating qualities, its early maturing and its very easy management, the Middle White went from strength to strength. When the National Pig Breeders Association was founded in 1884 the Middle White along with the Large White and Tamworth were the three foundation breeds and their first Herd books were published that same year.

The Middle White remained very popular with butchers everywhere, particularly in London where the breed was known as “the London Porker” as the carcases could be cut into the small joints favoured in the first part of 20th Century.

The Second World war and meat rationing until 1954 led to a concentration on the “bacon” pig and the specialist pork pig was sidelined. Along with other “pork” breeds the numbers of Middle Whites declined sharply during this period. Fortunately a number of dedicated breeders ensured the continuation of the breed. In recent years the demand for meat with good eating qualities has once again led to Middle White pork appearing on the menus of top London restaurants, with “glowing reports” regarding its outstanding quality.

Middle White breeding stock has been exported world wide, and the breed is particularly appreciated in Japan where they are known as “Middle Yorks”. The Middle White has many assets. It is very easily managed. It is docile and can make a contribution to cross breeding programmes to improve eating quality.

The Middle White Pig Breeders Club established in 1990 has as its Patron the well-known chef Antony Worrall Thompson whose enthusiasm for the breed has led him to breed his own Middle White pigs.

Landrace Pig

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The first Landrace pigs were imported into Britain from Sweden in 1949 (4 boars and 8 gilts) with other imports to follow from 1953 onwards, these came into Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

The British Landrace Pig Society was formed to create a herd book for the first offspring born 1950, from the 1949 importation, and anevaluation scheme was created, with the first Pig Testing Scheme for daily gain and fat depths, a testing station was built at Stockton-on-Forest, York. This was a first example of pig testing in the UK, and a testament to the foresight of the founder members of the Society, as to the future needs in commercial and pedigree pig production.

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With an eye on the development of the pedigree pig industry and the need for a national herd book for all breeds, the British Landrace Pig Society joined forces with NPBA now the British Pig Association in 1978.

New bloodlines were imported into England, Scotland and Northern Ireland from Norway in the 1980s and some new bloodlines into Northern Ireland from Finland and more recently from Norway. These new lines were imported, and assessed, and used to broaden the genetic base of the breed, allowing development, and making the British Landrace pig unique amongst other Landrace breeds throughout the world.

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The British Landrace breed has expanded rapidly to occupy its present position as one of the UK’s most popular breeds of pig. With Landrace breeders being acutely aware of the need to improve commercial attributes of the breed, carrying on from the 1950s, with testing and selection right up to present days, keeping up with the demands of the ever changing world of commercial/pedigree pig production.

The British Landrace is a very versatile breed, performing well under either indoor or outdoor systems of management. Sows have the ability to produce and rear large litters of piglets with very good daily gain and high lean meat content, in a superbly fleshed carcase, which is ideal for either fresh pork or bacon production.

The greatest strength of the Landrace is its undisputed ability to improve other breeds of pig when crossed to produce hybrid gilts – over 90% of hybrid gilt production in Western Europe and North America uses Landrace bloodlines as the foundation for the profitable production of quality pig meat.