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Author Topic: Which rare breed pigs?  (Read 4771 times)


  • Joined Oct 2015
Which rare breed pigs?
« on: October 03, 2015, 09:21:04 am »
Hi All,
My wife and I would really like to get a couple of weaners to fatten and have our own pork. I've read a lot about the merits of different breeds and am still struggling to come to a decision.  I have a friend down south who has four breeding sows (2×GOS and 2×Berkshires) and the meat is delicious - particularly the GOS - But I quite fancy trying something different. 

As it's our first time I'm thinking of something that won't get too fat if we don't manage it's feed properly. I have no problem with a good amount of  fat on my pork but have read a lot about some breeds getting too fat.  Our garden is also too small so we're currently talking to a couple of land owners about renting some land, but this could be 10-25 minutes drive away. Because of this I'm also thinking of more docile breeds that are less likely to try and escape. My last question is about getting 2 different breeds of weaner, one of each. Is it better to have the same breed and does it create problems if different breeds have different finishing times? I've been told that British LOPs take a bit longer to be ready for the abattoir.

At first, my gut feeling was Tamworth (I've heard the meat is gamey) and/or British LOP (because it's rare) but the more I've read and the more factors I've considered, the more confused I seem to get.  Really sorry about the avalanche of questions but we'd really appreciate any advice people could give.



  • Joined Sep 2013
  • Near Abergavenny, South Wales
Re: Which rare breed pigs?
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2015, 12:44:10 pm »
Hi Charlie_U

I don't think there is any one 'right' answer here. Every breed has their champions on here - and rightly so. I started with weaners 2.5yrs ago and like you pondered long and hard about what to get as the more you read the more confusing it can be. I wouldn't have them in your garden unless you want it rotovated and it's large. I live 10 minutes from where my pigs are which is manageable as long as you have means to get there in bad weather and decent fencing (stock or stock/electric). Escaping has only been an issue for me when transferring very young ones out of a trailer and when the battery has gone dead (ie entirely my fault). To combat that you get an electric fence energiser which warns you when battery is low.

I have tried Welsh, Tamworths, Saddlebacks and some Mangalitza crosses. And now have Old Spots and Oxford Sandy and Blacks which I adore to keep and eat. I would look at what is available from breeders nearby (where are you and people on here are bound to know?) For example British Lops - you may not find anyone nearby who could supply you. Tamworth meat not gamey in my experience - some of the best meat I have had has been Tamworth although they were more feisty than others I have had.

Sticking to feeding guidelines the first time is key to avoiding too much fat - and not feeding them more when they demand more (weaners always do)! As you have more, its easier to tell by eye how they're doing but not so easy when it's your first lot.  I also wouldn't rule out rare breed crosses as for meat raising they are often really good - my first ones were crosses and a delight.

As for whether you should get two the same breed - I would. Simply because most breeders would prefer not to sell one on its own and because they then travel together and have ready-made companion. And they're likely to finish at a more even rate as the same breed/litter.

Lots of very experienced pig people on here who will be along to give you their views too I'm sure.


  • Joined May 2013
Re: Which rare breed pigs?
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2015, 02:44:03 pm »
very much agree with MarthaR.... - no 'right' answer....

we started with large blacks - which is good for bio-diversity etc since they are still quite properly rare - they were delicious, and also relatively docile.... i'm imagining that anything with big ears is a bit more docile (they don't see you coming!)... last two year we've had GOS (since more readily/locally available) and we are huge fans....

we've often heard about the older breeds running to fat - but to be honest if you keep to a system (eg 500g per day for each month of age - increasing the amount gradually over each month) you really shouldn't have a problem, especially if you're looking to give them a good amount of land to run around in...

enjoy - once you've done it for yourself it's impossibly hard to buy elsewhere!


  • Joined Jun 2014
Re: Which rare breed pigs?
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2015, 04:15:08 pm »
I agree, the key thing is to find suppliers locally that have breeds you like, you might find that narrows the field quite considerably, we usually have OSBs because there's a few breeders round here. As long as you choose pigs that you're happy to see even on the wettest muddiest days, you won't go far wrong!


  • Joined Oct 2012
Re: Which rare breed pigs?
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2015, 07:58:28 pm »
Not sure where the information came from about the British lops being a slow finisher they are one of the quickest rare breed to finish. Being a long deep pig you will get a fantastic end product they don't easily run to fat either if correctly done so can be taken to bacon weight without laying down excess fat.
we can still learn if we are willing to listen.


  • Joined Oct 2015
Re: Which rare breed pigs?
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2015, 08:30:28 pm »
Hi All,
Thanks a lot for the replies. They're really helpful and It's good to get advice from others who have done it before. We definitely wont be keeping them in the garden and should hopefully have a reasonable amount of land for them depending on which site we end up at. 

We're in the north west in North Merseyside/West Lancashire. If anyone does know of any breeders nearby then we'd really appreciate any advice.

Thanks again


  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Which rare breed pigs?
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2015, 09:49:09 pm »
All weaners can run!  All pigs will escape unless you have good fencing. They like finding weak spots and they never forget an escape route. Slow grown pork from animals allowed to forage will always taste superior to supermarket, mass produced meat.

I agree with kja, Lops can be finished quickly equally they can be grown on slower to greater weights with the minimum of fat cover.

You will learn a lot from your first pigs and do the next ones better and two of the same sex is generally advisable.

Small Plot Big Ideas

  • Joined May 2012
  • North Pennines, UK
    • Small Plot Big Ideas
Re: Which rare breed pigs?
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2015, 08:34:46 am »
We started with 2 Tamworth weaners then tried Oxford Sandy and Blacks weaners for a change but the only difference I noticed when keeping them was that the OS&B were more boisterous (perhaps because they were boys!).

Now we're thinking about breeding pigs and settled on Tamworths mostly because they are on the RBST watchlist as a rare breed. However they are also great characters and I prefer the pricked ears to other lop eared breeds.


  • Joined Nov 2014
  • Cambridgeshire
Re: Which rare breed pigs?
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2015, 02:22:11 pm »
We had Saddlebacks at the beginning of the year and now have GOS, both have been great and a joy to keep. Have obviously only had the meat from the first set so far.

For us it came down to what weaners were available locally, although we are also keen to try different breeds til we find what we like.


  • Joined Nov 2013
  • Cambridgeshire
Re: Which rare breed pigs?
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2015, 04:03:27 pm »
We did Saddlebacks year one as told they are a great starter pig, GOS X SB year two, and Berkshire this year. All worthy, some preference emerging but the benefit of weaner said over breeding stock is you can change each time and try different breeds. But is easier to get two from same litter.


  • Joined Jul 2014
Re: Which rare breed pigs?
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2015, 10:01:00 am »
I'll chime in on fencing.
If they root the earth onto your bottom electric wire it shorts the fence and they will get out.
We are currently very grateful for our stock fenced pen that is subdivided with electric. So when they get out, they don't go far, just in with other pigs and the fighting has never been bad with mostly young pigs.


  • Joined Apr 2014
  • Mid Wales
  • Owner of 61 Mediterranean water buffaloes
Re: Which rare breed pigs?
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2015, 11:23:47 am »
I was thinking large black, as that was what we kept, but as I read more of your post and heard about the garden size, what about a couple of kune,kune?
the most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, loving concern.


  • Joined Oct 2015
Re: Which rare breed pigs?
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2015, 08:29:19 pm »
Don't worry - they're definitely not going in the garden. We've now (hopefully) sorted out a bit of land about 15 minutes away.  I think I'm going to heed people's advice and just see what's available locally. As you say, we can always try a different breed the next time (I still have my heart set on a couple of lops at some point!)

Thanks again for all the replies. We really appreciate people taking the time to give us some advice. And if any body knows of any breeders in the Lancashire area then please let us know.


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