Oxford Sandy and Black Pigs
The Oxford Sandy and Black is one of the oldest British Rare bred pigs, although its origins are somewhat lost in the fog of time, it is believed to have originated from the Thames valley around Oxford. The Oxford Sandy and Black was popular as a back garden pig in the era when those living in the countryside areas reared a pig at home as a necessary source of family food [are we returning to those times?]. As this pig will eat almost anything [yes even onions and leeks] in those days it was an essential way of converting the bounty of the autumn into family feed for the winter, probably fattening in the oak forests of England on the acorns and the autumnal windfall fruits.
Harry says ”Oxford sandy and Black piglets are so cute! They are so friendly, cuddly and inquisitive.They are my friends”
Today the breed is most admired for its bright metallic, gleaming golden coat, as it is a well haired pig. Slower to mature than other rare breeds this is reflected in the close grain of the unique tasty pork.
The Oxford Sandy and Black loves being outside and copes very well with most conditions, growing a thick coat of hair in the winter. These pigs love to graze and forage over pastures or in the woods, but will eventually destroy grassland if not ‘ringed’.
I believe the Oxford Sandy and Black to be the most friendly of the British rare breed pigs and are ideal for the first time pigkeeper, novice pigkeeper or as children’s pigs. The Oxford Sandy and Black pigs in the Coal yeat Herd are always the first to greet me when I go to Bridgefield Farm to’ feed up’
One of the other main advantages of the Oxford Sandy and Black is that it is a relatively lean pig in rare breed pig terms. [as no rare breed pig can be expected to compare with modern commercial pigs in growth rate or minimal fat cover] It is not prone to lay down too much fat if it gets a little overfed, but in my experience it does grow slower, but’ time equals taste’. The pork is excellent, unique, succulent and with the crispest of crackling on the roasts.
One unfortunate aspect of Oxford Sandy and Black pigs is that some breeders have been selecting for ‘aesthetic good looks’ rather than establishing a basic ‘good pig first’ approach. Therefore some OS&B have faults which may be hard to breed out. The Coal Yeat OS&B pigs have been rigorously selected for good bone and strong sound legs as well as breed character. Too much attention has in my opinion been attached to size of blotches or white feet at the expense of ‘the pig’. It is my hope to try to remedy theses minor faults by very careful selection and breeding.
The Oxford Sandy and Black remains the most beautiful of British Rare breed pigs. It is docile friendly and easy to handle, prolific and an excellent milky mother. Many regard the Oxford Sandy and Black as the perfect starter pig. Its combination of manageability and hardiness mean it’s a joy to own. It also has an excellent high killing out percentage as it is lightly boned with an excellent meat to bone ratio.
This pig known as the’ plum pudding pig’ is a survivor. Numbers are now at a height not seen since early last century and we all enjoy our Coal Yeat OS&B’s.
My Duchess OS&B sow is now nearly 3 year old and almost mature. She has had 3 litters, her most recent litter contained 11 piglets, but she got mastitis and lost some. The rest are growing very well and are very friendly and tame. I go and play with them as often as I can as they are across the valley at the farm.
I like Oxford Sandy and Blacks because they are very friendly and as they grow slower than other breeds I can have more cuddle time with them when they are small and cute.
In 2011 I showed my own bred gilt Coal Yeat Duchess and won several breed championships and the best female rare breed pig at Anglesey show in Wales. But in the young handles class another scatty pig came into the ring and charged around upsetting my gilt which joined in to cause chaos. I’m looking forward to her piglets in 2012 and showing my OS&B pigs during next year’s show season.
HARRY [age 10]