Tamworth Pigs at Rock Bottom Ranch
January 10, 2014
A few weeks ago, Rock Bottom Ranch welcomed two new gilts (young female pigs) to our family. These adorable piglets are a heritage breed called Tamworth. The Tamworth breed is one of the oldest recognized pig breeds in the world, originating in England. Sir Robert Peel is credited with developing the breed by crossing local pigs with imported Irish stock. (Sir Robert Peel also helped create the modern concept of the police force, another interesting read.) The breed is currently on the “threatened” list by The Livestock Conservancy, with an estimated global population of less then 5,000 animals.
The breed is known primarily as a “bacon” pig due to its long body and very flavorful, lean meat. Tamworths are a hardy, disease-resistant breed that excels on pasture, and will work nicely into the Ranch’s multi-species rotational grazing system. Tamworths are ideally suited for outdoor production due to their efficient foraging ability (having originated in forested habitat), athletic body type, and the sun protection provided by their ginger color hair. They also perform remarkably well in winter, and can be found in similar cold, windy climates in areas of Scotland and Canada. They are also good mothers and, at maturity, these girls will weigh around 500 pounds.
We brought Tamworth gilts to the Ranch in order to crossbreed them with our Large Black boars with the aim of hybrid vigor, faster growth, increased flavor, leaner meat, and long bodies (creating more bacon and larger loin chops).
The Large Black breed of pigs currently on the ranch are also a heritage breed bred for their high quality meat (they are also prized for their lard for use in cooking, soap-making, candle-making, etc). Many heritage breeds fell out of favor with the advent of concentrated animal operations, as they performed poorly in indoor confined operations. The industrialization of agriculture has led to an incredible loss of food biodiversity. Read more on that, here.
Come by for a Rock Bottom Ranch farm tour Monday – Friday at 11:00am if you would like to meet these colorful new additions to the property.
~ Jason Smith, RBR Director