Rare Breed Pigs
These breeds may have fallen from favour once, but interest in them has now turned full circle. People today are interested in both the quality and the provenance of their meat – its breed, how it was raised and fed, the 'food miles' and last but not least, the flavour and texture of the meat.
Buttle Farm is currently home to 6 different native rare breeds - producing succulent pork, and tasty bacon, ham, salami and pancetta. They are:
British Saddleback - rated 4 on the RBST Watchlist
One of our most recognisable breeds, the British Saddleback has a black head and neck, a clearly defined belt of white extending over the shoulders and continuing down the front legs, the rest of the body should being all black.
Traditionally docile, noted for being great mothers, they are also very hardy and excellent grazers – with a particular fondness for dandelions. A good dual-purpose pig – producing both delicious pork as well as ham and bacon.
Oxford Sandy and Black - rated 4 on the RBST Watchlist
The Oxford Sandy & Black Pig, one of the oldest British pig breeds have grown in popularity in recent years and numbers are slowly recovering.
The breed has an excellent temperament, particularly suited to outdoor systems, a good forager whose colour can range from light sandy to rust with random black blotches. A particularly good pork pig, but the bacon is also excellent!
Large Black - rated 3 on the RBST Watchlist
Appropriately named, large and black with huge lop ears, the Large Black is well suited to life outdoors. They are our slowest growing breed making them less economic to rear - a fact that has led to them becoming one of the most endangered breeds.
Originally from the West Country, the Large Black is related to the black pigs of Spain, used in the production of Iberico jamon.
Large Blacks are sometimes called the Elephant Pig – not just because of their size but also because the piglets bear a strong resemblance to a small black elephant with their big ears and swishing tail. They produce great pork but they are probably best known for the excellent quality of their ham and bacon.
The British Lincolnshire Curly Coat died out in 1972. However, a large number of animals had been exported to Eastern Europe where the meat was highly prized, and they were crossed with the local Mangalitzas. In 2006, all 3 colours –Red, Swallow Belly and Blonde – were reintroduced back to the UK.
Their coats grow long and shaggy in the autumn, looking more like sheep than pigs and then they moult by the handful in Spring. Short and sturdy with pricked ears, Mangalitzas have small litters and the piglets are striped – just like wild boar.
The meat has a higher proportion of fat to lean meat than other breeds, with marbling throughout, which makes it perfect for charcuterie – a rare and premium animal producing excellent pork but also making the best ham, bacon and salamis.
Tamworth - rated 3 on the RBST Watchlist
The instantly recognisable ginger pig is the closest relative to the now extinct British forest pig. That long snout makes them excellent diggers - think environmentally friendly rotavators!
With long legs and lean look, they are smaller than some other breeds but the meat is highly acclaimed. In a taste test at Bristol University, an independent jury judged the Tamworth the best tasting of all the native breeds – despite this, they are rated as '3 - Vulnerable' - the lower the RBST rating, the fewer pigs there are on record. "3" means that there are between 200 and 300 breeding sows in the UK.
With their pricked ears, they are lively and inquisitive – which combined with their reputation for escape means good fencing is essential for these characters - those over a certain age will remember the Tamworth Two!
Litters are relatively small – seven or eight piglets on average – but this is a hardy pig, happily living outdoors in all weathers. and a BIG character - probably the most vocal of all our pigs!
Berkshire - rated 3 on the RBST Watchlist
The earliest records describing a Berkshire pig were in Cromwell's time.
Today’s Berkshires are short stocky animals with pricked ears, are predominantly black, with white socks, nose and a blaze on the face. Sometimes called the Lady's Pig because of their smaller size - but in my experience, they don't let being small hold them back!
Favoured for the quality of both pork and bacon / ham, they are still rare in the UK - rated Vulnerable. They are much in demand in Asia, particularly in Japan, where the meat is marketed as Black Pork at a premium price. Japanese buyers still consider Berkshires from Britain to be the best pigs in the world.
The meat has a high proportion of lean meat to fat. The flesh is fine in texture, juicy and extremely tender with perhaps the finest crackling of all the native breeds.
How to Buy from Buttle Farm?As well as a few select restaurants, we supply pork and charcuterie direct to the public. We don't have a shop on the farm, so send out a mailer every 3 weeks to let customers know what is available. To join our mailing list, fill in the form to the right or click here to email me and I will add you personally.
July 2019 Farm Round Up
Summer rolls on and happily, a more British summer this year. I knowread more