Helping to conserve native breed pigs for future generations

Oxford Sandy and Black Pigs

Living a natural life

Our pigs live outside for much of the year, only coming into the barn to give birth and when the weather is really bad in the Winter.  Their arks are cosy in the Winter with insulated wool roofs and a thick straw bed on the ground.  Our pigs are free to root in the soil, graze the grass, dig wallows and sunbathe.  They are fed a mixed diet of organic pig nuts, surplus seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables from our farm and anything else they can snuffle from the ground.

The pigs are regularly moved to new ground to avoid the build-up of pests and diseases.  This helps to keep the pigs healthy and reduces the need for medication.

All native breed pigs in the UK are on the RSBT (Rare Breeds Survival Trust) watchlist.  We feel that it is important to conserve these native breeds for future generations and consider ourselves fortunate that we are in a position to ‘do our bit’ to help.

Based on looks and being ‘a good pig for beginners’, we decided to start our own herd of pedigree Oxford Sandy and Black pigs.

The Oxford Sandy and Black pig is one of the oldest British pig breeds.  It is believed that the breed originated in the Oxfordshire region at least two centuries ago.  The breed has twice reached the possibility of extinction.  In 2004, it was the rarest of the native pig breeds with just 162 registered sows, 36 boars and 64 breeders.  By 2021, those numbers have increased to 473 registered sows, 129 boars and 172 breeders. Two of these sows and a boar live here at Barr Farm.  You can read more about the history of the Oxford Sandy and Black pig here.

Our Pigs

We bought our breeding pigs in 2021 from a smallholder in Somerset who was reluctantly reducing the size of his herd.  It may seem like a long way to transport pigs but this helps to spread the genetics and improve the breed.

For sale were an 18 month old sow (Strawberry), unrelated 7 month old boar (Logan) and a 7 month old gilt (Blackberry).  An instant family!!!  The ‘berry family’ quickly expanded as Strawberry was also ‘in pig’.  In early December 2021, she gave birth to 12 piglets.

We thought long and hard about whether to leave Strawberry outside in an ark to farrow or whether to bring her into the barn. In the end, we decided to build a spacious farrowing area in the barn which allows us and the vet easy access if needed and keeps the young piglets safe from our resident fox and hovering buzzards for the first few weeks of their life.

By buying pork from us

it ensures that we can continue to maintain this rare breed.  We will register the very best piglets to maintain the blood lines for future breeding.  Not every piglet will meet the onerous breed standard.  As a rare breed they grow slowly, develop a superior flavour and make fantastic tasting pork.