A Royal visitor to Jimmy's Farm

POSTED ON: 09/06/2017

A Royal visitor to Jimmy's Farm
The plight of the British Saddleback pig in its 50th anniversary year was on the agenda when RBST Patron HRH The Prince of Wales paid a visit to the Trust’s President Jimmy Doherty to learn about the conservation and breed promotion work being carried out at Jimmy’s Farm.

Prince Charles is a passionate supporter of the UK’s native breeds of pedigree livestock and keeps a wide range at his various farms.  The visit to Jimmy’s Farm at Wherstead in Suffolk gave his Royal Highness the opportunity to learn how Jimmy Doherty is throwing his weight behind the work of RBST, the charity whose aim is to secure the future of rare and native breeds of livestock, in his role as its President.

This year, British Saddleback breeders are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the breed, but it is a traditional pork breed that could be lost to our tables because of the extremely low numbers of registered breeding females. 

Distinguished by its black skin with a white ‘saddle’ over its shoulders and front legs, the breed was developed from an amalgamation between the Essex pig, originally from East Anglia, and the Wessex which first came from the New Forest.  During the Second World War, nearly half of the total pedigree sow registrations in the UK were from the Essex and Wessex breeds. As reported by RBST’s 2017 Watchlist, this year sees only 302 registered pedigree females in the whole country.

The British Saddleback is one of the breeds on view at Jimmy’s Farm and the farm’s Royal guest was introduced to two of its latest additions in the form of two recently-arrived piglets.  Explaining the importance of this and all of the other native pig breeds, Jimmy said: “Each native breed brings a unique flavour to the table and if we lose our native breeds of pig, we will lose the traditional taste of pork.  At Jimmy’s Farm, we are working to make breeds more and more relevant to the public and encouraging them to put native breed meat on the table at least once a week.

I want to see native breeds in more butcheries and offered at more restaurants.  We must have viable breeding populations of our native livestock breeds and to support that, we need to build the market for their meat products.”

RBST monitors all 11 of the UK native pig breeds:  British Landrace, British Lop, Large Black, Middle White, Berkshire, Large White, Tamworth, British Saddleback, Gloucestershire Old Spots, Oxford Sandy and Black and Welsh.  Of these, seven breeds are currently in numerical decline and the British Saddleback is categorised as a breed ‘at risk’.

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