Essential Wessex: Domestic Pig Breeds

Wessex is home to many breeds of domestic pig. Some of the most prominent are as follows.

The Berkshire Pig (illustrated) is one of the oldest breeds of domestic pig in Britain, and the first to have pedigrees recorded in herd books (a development which occurred much later than it did for other species of livestock, due to pigs being seen as a peasant's animal). It originated around Reading in the early 18th century, when native breeds were crossed with imported pigs from East Asia.

The Gloucestershire Old Spot is called "old" because it has been around since time immemorial. Its meat is geographically protected, due to traders fraudulently mislabelling the meat of other breeds as GOS meat.

The Hampshire Hog actually originated around the Scottish border. but was exported to North America from Hampshire. It is so identified with the county that its inhabitants are referred to as Hampshire Hogs.

Closely related to the Berkshire pig is the Oxford Sandy and Black. This breed was on the verge of extinction in 1985, when a Breed Society was formed. Thanks to the Society's efforts, numbers are on the increase, though it is still among the rarest of breeds. It is sometimes nicknamed the Plum Pudding, because of its distinctive colouring,

Finally, the Wessex Saddleback is now extinct in the United Kingdom, though it survives in Australia and New Zealand. It was traditionally farmed for bacon and ham,