Having left the Lake District overcast and gloomy the last day of summer sunshine greeted the 50 or so club members who attended the Saddleback Breeders Club AGM at Jimmy’s farm near Ipswich. We all sat patiently throughout the meeting, which was held in the butchery cutting room, while perched on kid’s chairs.
As Richard, the secretary of the club, was retiring he was presented with a large wooden pig by the club in gratitude to all his input into the success of the British Saddleback Breeders Club. It has grown under his tenure from 20 members to nearly 300. This reflects the popularity of the Saddleback pig, which now is no longer classified as a rare breed by the RBST.
At the end of the meeting was the prize giving of the club’s “points” trophy for the pig accumulating the most points through the entire show season. I was very fortunate to be awarded this prize for my stock boar Coal Yeat Grand Duke, who won the Champions of Champions prize at Hatfield Show and overall champion at Cheshire County Show together with numerous other Saddleback breed championships at smaller shows. What a beautiful trophy! A silver sow, which I will be very proud to admire throughout the winter months.
The prize for the outstanding contribution by a young person to the Saddleback pig breed was won by Imogen, my granddaughter who has put in so many hours in showing Saddleback pigs around the country, also winning the national under 8 young handler with a Saddleback pig. Harry my grandson was runner up, so a great day again for ‘Team Sutcliffe’!
There were many points raised by members at the AGM but I feel we must not be driven as a breed by success in the show ring. Only approx 3% of all Saddleback pigs bred in the Coal Yeat herd of pedigree Saddleback pigs are registered as individual animals. Of these individually registered pigs only a few get selected as the very best for the show ring. The rest are eaten as the tastiest pork, bacon, ham or Saddleback sausages. As a breed we are in the delicate position of expansion at the expense of quality. As more Saddleback pigs come into the hands of hobby farmers Saddleback breed standards are not being religiously adhered to.
It is therefore the responsibility of established breeders to assist and help new breeders in the selection of only the best breeding stock for individual registration. As the club chairman Steve Booth pointed out, we are only custodians of the Saddleback pig for future generations to come.
Finally a giant ‘thank you’ to everyone who has helped the Coal Yeat Herd of pedigree Saddleback pigs through all of the show season. Without your help and encouragement this success would not have been possible.