Our pigs are a rare native breed called Oxford Sandy and Black, with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) categorising them as “At Risk” of extinction, with only 300 to 500 registered in the UK at present. They are one the oldest British pig breeds, having existed for around 300 years, originally coming from forests in Oxfordshire and thus are very well suited to outdoor organic farming systems. They are renowned for their friendly temperament and producing meat of a high quality and flavour.
We currently have 3 groups of Oxford Sandy and Blacks here at West Town; they are inquisitive, clever and very happy digging and rooting around the field. They love feeding times and get very excited at any sight of myself, Andy, or our volunteers. They run towards us skipping, squealing and snorting. Apples are their favourite, with pumpkins coming a close second. Breakfast is always our homegrown organic oats and beans. We mix in a little organic pig feed from a local supplier, as this makes sure they get all their daily vitamins and minerals.
We like to spoil them, we scratch their backs, massage them, pick lice off in the wintertime and give them organic neem oil rubs as treatment. We check their bedding daily and top it up if it's wet at all. They destroy their water troughs on a near-daily basis, just so you have to go in the pen, say hello, scratch them all and fix it. In the driving rain, in ankle-deep mud, you slip, you fall. They nibble your leg, if you're really unlucky they bite you, but they do it as play, or because your leg smells good, like a toddler drunk on life. They are a lot of hard work, but we hope it’s all worth it when you are watching them play in the field or sampling some of our delicious, happy and sustainable pork!
If you haven’t come across the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, they are a charity set up to ensure we maintain our diversity of rare and native livestock breeds, which is very important, check out their website to learn more about what they do and why. https://www.rbst.org.uk/