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Tamworth sows and piglets at Glen Eyrie

photo courtesy Jayce Morgan .

The Tamworth

The Tamworth Pig is said to be descended from the wild hog resident in the Midland Counties of England and domesticated around 300 years ago.

According to the Rare Breeds Trust, "The Hawkesbury Agricultural College first imported Tamworths into Australia from England in the 1890s. The Australian Pig Breeder's Association (previously known as the Yorkshire and Berkshire Society) first listed Tamworths in their herd book in 1914. The most numbers of recorded Tamworths in Australia were recorded between 1950 and 1960, where numbers reached in the vicinity of 1000."

This breed is now classified as critically rare and Australian Tamworths have also been exported back to England as they are also rare in their country of origin. Prince Charles maintains a herd of Tamworths.

Tamworth pigs have a very long straight snout and narrow head, admirably suited to turning over hard and rocky ground, they tend to be very good in the length but lack the eye muscle of modern breeds. They almost have a 'feral' pig appearance and an abundance of hair which is good if they are kept outside. Their coat varies in colour from light gold to red and often has a lovely irredecence they moult in summer.  

Tamworths are probably the best sows for farrowing off in the bush and bringing home their litter rain hail or shine, you cannot dispute their strong maternal instincts and ability to raise young in totally natural conditions. However they were never know for large litters (7-9) but will usually raise everything born alive. They would be a good choice with a terminal sire such as a large white or duroc in small free range setups for this reason.

We have a successful suckling pig market and chefs always comment on the wonderful crackling their skin produces. Studies done in 1975 at Bristol University found the Tamworth topped the list of breeds for taste and eating quality.

Compared with modern breeds they are slow growing , have a small eye muscle and tend to lay down fat as they get bigger , although when people liked fat on their bacon the Tamworth was highly regarded for good bacon.

In Australia there are only a few significant breeders and I would suggest the breed is critically endangered.