New (porcine) arrivals at Kentwell

We are very excited to have nine new arrivals at Kentwell: a new litter of piglets, born to our sow Gingerbread on Friday evening. Here you can see them having their first feed, just a few hours old.

Visiting the piglets

You can see them in the piggery on your visit to the farmland. They will stay in our "nursing pen" initially, so to have protection from the cold, where they have a big heat lamp. Then when they are older you will see them exploring round the farmyard.

Colour and breed

Gingerbread (mother) is ginger with black spots. She is a cross between the Tamworth and Berkshire breeds. Their father Black Tam is Tamworth cross Large Black, which actually produces a black looking pig. It is this combination that has produced the litter of black and spotty piglets that you see!

We have had Tamworths at Kentwell for a long time now but have only recently introduced other breeds as we were unable to find a Tamworth boar in our area so are now producing cross breeds. Black Tam came to us about 3 years ago and has doubled in size since his arrival!

Tamworth pigs

One of the oldest breeds in England, the Tamworth is listed as vulnerable by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, with less than 300 registered breeding sows left in this country. Tamworths have a very distinctive ginger/red coat, long legs and prick up ears and are said to be descended from forest pigs. They are generally incredibly characterful and boisterous.

Berkshire pigs

Berkshire pigs are another rare breed listed as 'vulnerable'. They are the oldest pig breed recorded in Great Britain, rumoured to have been discovered by Oliver Cromwell's army. They are almost entirely black and incredibly good natured and make excellent mothers.

Large Black pigs

Large Blacks are the only pig breed to be entirely black. They are native to Essex and are again on the 'vulnerable' list. It is a very hardy and docile breed and sows have large litters. For docile you might read lazy in Black Tam's case!

Litter size

Gingerbread originally gave birth to 10 piglets, but one didn't make the second 24 hours, so there are now nine. The litter is quite uneven in size and it literally is a Darwinian survival of the fittest for access to milk and heat. Unfortunately there is not much we can do to counter this. Our attempts at bottle-feeding piglets have failed horribly.

Character

All the pigs we have here are very good natured partly because of the way we offer them respect and partly the breed.

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All images and text © Kentwell Hall, Long Melford, Suffolk CO10 9BA