Pulling Pork: The Tamworth pig


The Tamworth, with its distinctive red coat, is a hardy pig suited to living outdoors all year round.

Pulling Pork: The Tamworth pig

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The Tamworth, with its distinctive red coat, is a hardy pig suited to living outdoors all year round.

The Tamworth pig, known for its golden-red coat and inquisitive nature, originated in its namesake Tamworth in the UK.

The Tamworth is considered one of Britain’s oldest pure breeds, with resemblance to the Old English Forest Pig. Of all the native British breeds the Tamworth experienced the least influence from imports of Asian pigs during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Small-scale pig producers value the Tamworth’s hardiness and resilience. The breed is ideally-suited to living outdoors all year round in extensive management systems. They can even adapt to the cold adverse weather conditions of Scotland and Canada.

The Tamworth reportedly has the longest snout of the present-day domestic breeds. It has large ears carried upright and a distinctive golden-red coat. Thanks to this thick, coarse red coat, it is resistant to sunburn, unlike many of its white counterparts.

It is a slow-maturing breed but is a good dual-purpose pig and known for producing good bacon. A scientifically-controlled ‘taste test’ carried out by Bristol University, saw the Tamworth come out on top, ahead of both commercial and rare breed pigs.

Rare breed

As with many traditional pig breeds, the Tamworth is not well suited to the modern intensive production system. After World War II, farmers were urged to concentrate on faster-growing, more economical breeds and the Tamworth saw breeding stock numbers fall dramatically.

Although the number of registered Tamworth pigs being kept is now much more encouraging, the breed is categorised as ‘vulnerable’ by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

Breed characteristics

  • Hardy and resilient;
  • Excellent mothering ability;
  • Docile temperament;
  • Average litter size approximately 7.80 piglets;
  • Long-legged and lean;
  • Approximate weight: sows: 260kg and boars: 320kg.

Further information about the Tamworth pig can be found on the Tamworth Breeders’ Club website.

Photo credit: Tamworth Breeders’ Club

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