The Saddleback pig is a medium to large lop-eared pig, mainly black, with a white band running over the shoulders to the front feet, which gave it its name. A docile breed, they are very hardy, good foragers, and are known to thrive outdoors.
The Wessex Saddleback originated in the New Forest as a cross between two old English bacon breeds, and spread across the South of England by 1914. The breed has also been imported in the United States where it is said to be an ancestor for the Hampshire pigs.
The Essex Saddleback was a cross of Essex sows with two Neapolitan boars, introduced by Lord Western to improve the breed. Its reputation was established by 1840.
Both breeds were renowned for their bacon, and very popular in World War II, but they fell out of favor as the pork industry moved toward intensive production, and the trend was to cross with white breeds to produce a dual-purpose pig for pork and bacon.
Nowadays, there is also some resistance among consumers to the bristles on the skin of black haired breeds.
The Wessex and Essex breeds are both extinct in their original form, and thus the two breed societies amalgamated in 1967 as the British Saddleback.
It is a dual-purpose breed; a good pork pig and bacon pig if it is taken to heavier weights.
They are classified as “at risk” by the Rare Breed Survival Trust, with fewer than 500 breeding sows, and numbers continuing to decline.
It was the 100th Ark of Taste Product nominated by the RBST and announced at Highgrove with HRH Prince of Wales