The British Saddleback came into being in 1967 when the Essex and Wessex Saddlebacks were amalgamated into one breed. Why, because these two very similar marked pigs, both black with a white saddle, were dwindling to such small numbers that they were facing the peril of extinction. Both types of Saddleback can trace their pedigrees back to 1918 when the respective breed societies were established.
The Wessex Saddleback originated from the Dorset /Hampshire border and could easily claim to be the New Forest Pig. Was it this breed exported to the USA that was the foundation stock for the modern Hampshire pig?
The Essex Saddleback, as the name implies, began its life in the southern part of East Anglia and is a breed that carries more fat.
In the 21st century after nearly 50 years of interbreeding of the Essex and Wessex genes it is very difficult to claim that the Essex or Wessex exist. Yet the traits common to the specific breed type are still apparent in today’s British Saddleback pigs. For instance a Guardsman boar that produces excellent show winning stock will produce pigs too fat for today’s finicky butchers. Therefore throwing back more to the Essex pig. Similarly, white markings on the tip of the tail and rear legs is also an Essex trait. The Wessex by contrast tended to be a longer leaner pig with white only on the front legs and saddle; more of a butchers pig.
I have chosen Saddleback pigs as the premier breed of British rare breed pigs because of their taste and versatility of slaughtering weights. They are genuine all round pigs equally able to be slaughtered at pork weights [50/70k DW] to produce delicious, succulent pork or taken to larger weights [90/120k DW] for bacon and manufacturing products. Unlike some other British rare breed pigs the Saddleback is less prone to become over fat as their weight increases. The black hair pigment does not appear on the skin of the Saddleback, which when de-haired hangs as white as any commercial white pig.
The Saddleback pig is very biddable, with an excellent calm temperament and is especially good with the beginner, novice pig keepers and children. Treated with respect a Coal Yeat Saddleback will be your friend for life.
The British Saddleback of today is noted for its calm mothering abilities and has long been regarded for its prolificacy. The sows regularly produce large litters twice a year rearing a high proportion of those born. Saddleback sows can be kept in small family groups with their litters. This coupled with the longevity of female lines within the Coal Yeat herd means this Saddleback is a very cost effective producer.
Saddleback pigs thrive outside being very hardy and due to their predominantly black colour do not suffer from sunburn, a problem with white pigs. Indeed this hardiness and ability to thrive in all conditions has enabled Coal Yeat Saddleback pigs to be found in some of the most northerly and remote areas of the UK.
A pig is just a pig unless it has a registered pedigree with the BPA. All Coal Yeat breeding Saddleback pigs are individually registered. Litters are birth notified with the BPA within 8 weeks of birth and individual piglets tagged. Only those deemed to fulfil the breed standard are notched as potential breeding pigs. They are then checked several more times before only the best 5% are kept as breeding replacements or for sale as pedigree pigs.
Be sure if you intend breeding pedigree that the breeder will transfer the individual pigs registration to you via the BPA and that this cost is included in the purchase price.
Unless both sow and the boar are pure, registered, papered pigs their offspring cannot be registered as pedigree pigs. This has been a problem for some people over recent years so do please ensure that unless you only intend to fatten pigs for pork, that the pigs are correctly ear marked and fit to be registered. With the BPA pedigree meat scheme only birth notified Saddleback pigs might be sold as Saddleback pork.
By buying fattening pigs from the Coal Yeat Herd of pedigree Saddleback pigs you are helping to ensure the survival of this rare breed pig for future generations.
Remember we have to ‘EAT THEM TO KEEP THEM’
Visit John's dedicated website here: www.saddlebackpigs.co.uk
Visit the British Saddleback Breeders Club here: www.saddlebacks.org.uk