Gloucestershire Old Spot
The Gloucestershire Old Spot Pig has recently celebrated its 100 year in 2014 but old master paintings suggest that they have been around for a lot longer than this, for perhaps two or three centuries.
They are known as the orchard pig from the Vale of Berkeley, Gloucestershire where they were used to clear up the windfall apples from the orchards. This is how their name was born, because it was thought that the falling apples fell onto them which caused the black spots.
They are very hardy and live outside all year round given a patch of land and a suitable house to live in. They are quiet and very easy to handle which makes them a great breed for the small farmer.
The Gloucestershire Old Spot is a meaty breed with a broad, deep body with large hams. It is a good all round pork pig making excellent sausages, ham, and bacon, but the best is the roasting joint because it makes the best crackling.
Its skin is white with large clearly defined black spots. Their legs and feet should be strong and straight and their ears should be lopped, covering their face down to the nose.
After the Second World War when food production went into overdrive the Gloucestershire Old Spot went into decline as it took a long time to get to slaughter weight.
A few individuals such as George Styles kept the Gloucestershire Old Spot and can be thanked for this as today they are making a comeback with many butchers seeking out this breed to sell at a premium.
Though the Gloucestershire Old Spot has been on the Rare Breed Survival Trust list for a number of years it has gone from strength to strength and is nownearly off this list but not quite.
There are 4 Boar lines and 15 Female lines.
The Large White pig was first recognised in 1868, its origins are to the Yorkshire breed. The Large White was one of the founder breeds of the National Pig Breeders Association and the first herd book was published in 1884.
Large White Pigs have a long body, clear white skin, erect ears and as their name suggests they are characterised by relatively large size.
Before the end of the 19th Century the Large White had become established all over the world and were exported as far afield as Australia, Argentina, Canada and Russia as well as most European countries.
The Large White pig has proved itself as a rugged and hardy breed which grows very quickly and therefore is very cost effective. Their ability to cross with and improve other breeds has given them a leading role in commercial pig production systems and breeding pyramids around the world.
The Large White is a very lean breed unlike the traditional breeds which run to fat if not kept in check. They finish quick, three months earlier than most breeds which makes them very economical.
Their meat is great for bacon, chops and a perfect all-rounder which helped this pig become the success it is today with exports to 60 countries worldwide.