How Sally got into rearing Gloucester Old Spot Pigs and why she chose this particular breed:
Our first pigs arrived in January 1995 and were 2 in pig Gloucestershire Old Spots gilts and were a present from my Father. We both had full time careers so pig keeping was very much a hobby to begin with. We sold pedigree breeding stock, surplus weaners were bought by other people to finish and we showed throughout the West Country. As the number of sows increased we found ourselves left with a few weaners so started to finish them and these were sold to friends and family as half pigs. My parents who had a herd of Large Blacks had begun to sell sausages and a small selection of fresh joints at one of the first Farmers markets in the Country and they were soon selling everything they and their butcher could produce. In 2000 following the birth of our 3rd child I left my job as a Bank Manager and began to sell at local Farmers markets. In March 2001 two things happened that probably changed the course of ours and many others lives. Foot and Mouth hit the Countryside and although Cornwall had only a few cases some good friends only a mile away from my parents had their animals slaughtered which was obviously of great concern to my Father. He died very suddenly just a week later leaving my Mum with a herd of pigs she could not sell. Fortunately, a friend who had always helped look after the pigs stepped in but it was months before any of the breeding animals could be moved. What remained of his stock came to us and we continue to keep his herd of Kit Hill Large Black pigs. We also have pedigree British Saddlebacks and a few cross breed sows too. Since 2001 we have gradually expanded responding to demand by expanding our herd and finishing facilities. We also buy finished rare breed pigs from 10 or so other local farmers and smallholders and can supply Middle White, Tamworth and Welsh pigs as well as our own. In 2014 following a large investment in new processing facilities we now have the capacity to process everything on site. We supply pork directly to the public through markets, festivals and from our butchery on site. We sell throughout Cornwall to food box schemes, farm shops, hotels, restaurants, cafes, B&B’s and street food vendors. We feel privileged to work with many leading Cornish chefs who appreciate how our pigs are kept and understand why we are so keen to use every part of the animal- nose to tail selling is something practised here.
The challenges that Sally is facing producing Gloucester Old Spot Pig:
The challenge faced with keeping all rare breeds is that they do not generally have as many pigs per litter, take longer to finish and as they farrow in arks there is a higher likelihood of the piglets being squashed by the sow or taken by a predator. The positives certainly outweigh the negatives as far as we are concerned- the sows are generally very good natured, make excellent mothers and even at farrowing allow intervention where necessary without being a danger to us or our vets. The sows will generally breed for many years and in fact we have just had to say goodbye to two Large Black half sisters aged 8 and 9. In recent years some of the Traditional pig breeds have seen a dramatic reduction in their numbers so it is vital that we breed pedigree pigs especially where the Large Black breed is concerned which is the rarest pig looked after by The British Pig Association.
Products that Sally is offering:
We offer a complete range of products- Meat boxes, pork joints, sausages, dry cured bacons, smoked products, gammons, Cornish hogs pudding and charcuterie.
Many of our products are award winning- the link is HERE.
A favourite Gloucester Old Spot Pig recipe:
Belly pork roast
1.5 kg traditional breed belly pork
5 kg sea salt
50 ml olive oil
Turn oven to the highest temperature it will go to. Preferably ask your butcher to score very close across the skin or carefully use a very sharp knife to do it yourself. Mix the sea salt and oil together and rub into the skin ensuring this gets down to the meat. Put into your hot oven for 15 mins or until the belly pork skin starts to bubble and go golden brown.
Turn oven temperature down to 170 deg c, 325 deg F or gas mark 3 for approximately 2 1/2 hours. Remove the crackling and break up into pieces. Pull or cut the belly pork and serve with fresh vegetables and home made gravy.