Our pigs are Oxford Sandy and Black Pigs, a breed listed as rare and endangered by the Rare Breed Survival Trust. They are one of the oldest, traditional English breed of pig, originating in Oxfordshire, having been around for 300 years. However, no longer considered commercially viable and replaced by their leaner and quick to mature white/pink counterparts of today’s intensively reared indoor pig units.
They are sandy brown in colour with black spots and often referred to as ‘plum pudding pigs’. Numbers dropped to almost extinction for this breed 20 years ago and it is only through the work of the Rare Breed Survival Trust and dedicated breeders in the OSB Pig herd register that are managing to protect some of the bloodlines.
Living their best life
OSB’s are gorgeous, stunning to look at and enjoy a tasty nibble on your boots if you stand still long enough. Our pigs are reared outside where possible, with access to a cooling muddy wallow over the summer months to protect them from sunburn. They are not mutilated like some pigs on intensive rearing units are. Our piggies all have lovely pointy ears that are free from notching, we well as teeth and tails that are not brutally cut as piglets.
We rely on quality feed, excellent husbandry, and definitely no preventative antibiotics, to keep our pigs happy and healthy. Overuse of antibiotics in animals can lead to antibiotic resistance in humans. Goodness knows what growth hormones to make the animal mature quicker would do, but we do know that we do not want those in our systems, or our children’s systems either.
Another reason why our pigs are reared outside is so that they consume nutritious earthworms and microbes in the soil. Good bacteria for the guts is essential stuff for growing pigs.
Pigs are not just comical and playful to watch, and they also provide natural food for the soil. We believe that we should only take from the land what we need and then put back more than what we took. And pigs help us to do this (alongside not using large, heavy machinery or pesticides ). They naturally and gently cultivate the soil with their snout, and then fertilise it with their muck. We are currently using our pigs to regenerate some scrubland on the farm, to fertilise the soil by adding back in essential minerals that are missing.
Our pigs are also our producers in our twice-yearly pork meat box; around Summer and Wintertime.
The end is as considered and cared for as the beginning, you can enjoy your meat knowing that it has been produced ethically and sustainably. Our approach to pig keeping has also been featured by ‘Farms Not Factories’, which you can read more about here: