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The Tamworth Pig

by Cheryl Hardy and Chris Smith

Emerald Hill Rare Breeds Farm

A Tamworth Boar - DennisThe Tamworth Pig is thought to be the first "fixed" breed of pig, domesticated approx 300 years ago. It is said to be descended from the wild hog resident in the Midland Counties of England which was distinct from any other known breed at the time. The Hawkesbury Agricultural College first imported Tamworths into Australia from England in the 1890s. The Australian Pig Breeder's Association (previously known as the Yorkshire and Berkshire Society) first listed Tamworths in their herd book in 1914. The most numbers of recorded Tamworths in Australia were recorded between 1950 and 1960, where numbers reached in the vicinity of 1000. Today Tamworth pigs are classifed by RBA as being rare ie, there were less than 50 new pigs registered in 1998 in Australia. Unfortunately at present there are only a few distinct bloodlines left in Australia and the UK which makes the need to preserve them even more critical. To supplement the bloodlines in the UK, males from the Ranger line were exported from Australia to the UK in the last few years.

Tamworths have a long head and slim and straight snout, with a long narrow body providing firm lean flesh which makes them good for bacon. They mature and fatten slower than modern hybrid pigs. Chestnut in colour, with varying shades, this tends to make them less susceptible to sunburn. However, as they moult and their hair thins in summer time, they do require shelter and large amounts of mud to stop burning. They are known in winter time (especially in the UK) to live quite happily in a shed in a paddock in the middle of the snow. Basically, they are a very hardy animal. They are active and good foragers which makes them ideal for free range and keeping out of doors. However, they can be great wanderers and will force their way through a "suspect" fence very quickly. As a consequence good solid fences are required. They are also great"ploughing machines" - digging up a paddock in a very short space of time.

Tamworth sow and pigletsThey are not known for overly large litters - the average size being somewhere between 6 - 10 live piglets. Temperament wise they are generally docile even with young at foot. They have generally lean meat which has been said to have a slight yellowy discolouration in the first cm or so but we have not noticed this.

Tamworths are generally relatively healthy pigs. If free ranging, their toe nails are kept trim, especially if they have the right mineral balance, either found naturally or supplemented. If the correct mineral balance is maintained most health problems do not arise.


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