Pork

All of our pork at Tierra Verde Farms comes from pastured pigs. We have 11 hog paddocks that are nestled between grass pasture and woodlot. We maintain Hickory and oak trees in our hog paddocks as well as bramble and ryegrass for our hogs to forage. We rotate our hogs from paddock to paddock on average every 1-2 weeks depending on age and size. This puts less stress on the environment and the hogs themselves while providing a cleaner environment for them to to live. We have chosen Tamworth as our breed of hogs to raise for several reasons. First they are a heritage breed and at one point where endangered so we are doing our part to re-establish the breed. Second, They are great foragers. they do very well outside browsing for part of there diet. They love to root and play. Third, They are redheads! Redheads in the hog world do not sunburn. The standard white hog you typically see would not hold up on a pasture and it would get sunburned real bad. On of the most important reasons we have chosen Tamworths is they are know as the Bacon Hog, if you where going to pick a hog breed for any reason I would certainly think that Bacon is a very good reason.

THE TAMWORTH BREED 

History, Developments and Future

The Tamworth is one of the oldest pig breeds. It is the most direct descendant of the native pig stock of Europe that in turn descended from wild boars. The breed originated in the Midlands of England and takes the name of the town Tamworth in Staffordshire. It appears, while in Ireland in 1809, Sir Robert Peel was impressed by a breed of pig referred to as the "Irish Grazer". He imported several to his Drayton Manor Estate at Tamworth, about 1812. (Apparently Irish Grazers were imported into the USA and became extinct there in the nineteenth century.) Much of the improvement of the breed took place in Staffordshire and also in the counties of Warwick, Leicester and Northhampton, England. It is unknown whether the improvement was made solely by selection but most experts believe that improvement of the breed could only have been accomplished by crossbreeding.
By the middle of the 19th century the Tamworth was very popular and was being exported widely. In 1865 it was given breed recognition at the English Royal Show and by the 1870s was well established. Export to North America began at about the same time. The first Herd Book was started in England in1885. Since 1888 large numbers were introduced into Canada. Most importations to the USA have been from Canada.
In about 1877, Canada received the first Tamworth pigs brought to this continent The pigs which comprised the earliest importations were coarse and unattractive; consequently the breed made indifferent progress at first. The first Tamworth pigs were admitted to the Dominion Swine Breeders Association Herd Book in 1893, at which time Walter T. Elliot of Hamilton was one of the leading breeders. There was a growing interest beginning in the early 1890's when importations from England increased. Although quite correctly classified as a bacon breed, the Tamworth failed to win such wide spread support as that ultimately enjoyed by the Yorkshire.
The first importation to the United States was in 1882 however the breed never did experience much favor.
In Canada, many farms had a few Tamworths until the 1960's. Regulations against keeping pigs in barns with dairy cattle, new systems of grading pork and the introduction of confinement rearing systems contributed to the decline of the Tamworth in the last 40 years.

Recent Developments In The Breed

While white breeds will do better as sows, the colored breeds exhibit better carcass traits. Farmers who use hogs in a more extensive environment and with other species of livestock - such as on a grazing farm, will benefit from developing a sow herd based at least in part upon the colored breed. They are hardier and are not so easily milked down to the point where they cannot be bred, and they are easier to feed for condition. Taste improves with the redness of the meat - a contribution of the colored species. A greater emphasis on old-fashioned colored-breed genetics is probably required for anyone wanting to promote taste in selling pork. The colored breeds, including the Tamworth, have an important role to play in developing grazing herds.

Future Of The Breed

The Tamworth shows good conversion on poor pasture. They have a natural disease resistance, are hardy, good mothers with lots of milk, produce lean meat and flavorsome bacon. The Tamworth is not directly related to many of the other swine breeds so is ideal for cross breeding. There is potential for using Tamworth in extensive grazing systems and for the niche marketing of pasture-raised lean meat of superior quality. A concerted effort is required to reestablish and conserve the genetics of this unique breed. Because of the very limited numbers in Canada and worldwide, a conservation strategy is needed. It should include:

  •  an inventory of Canadian stock

  •  DNA testing of registered and unregistered stock

  •  development of a strategy to save and safe guard existing genetics should existing herds be dispersed

  •  development a breeding strategy for Canadian Tamworths

  •  importation of animals and semen to supplement existing genetics especially male lines.

CHARACTERISTICS

Appearance

The Tamworth is a red colored breed with a long head, prick ears, a straight face and snout, and a long, narrow body. A short or turned up nose is unacceptable. Hair should be long, straight and smooth, curly hair and a course mane are held in disfavor. They have a long neck and long legs. They are deep-sided hogs and not as wide of back as hogs of the thicker breeds. The ham is muscular and firm, but lacks the size and bulk found in other breeds. The Tamworth has good bone, strong feet and great hardiness.

Color

Ginger, golden red to dark red. Dark spots in the hair and curly coats are not acceptable

Size

A medium sized pig. Boars may weigh from 535 - 800 pounds and sows 450 - 650 pounds. Sows make good mothers: they are attentive in suckling their litters however they may produce smaller litters than commercial breeds.

Hardiness

The Tamworth is a very hardy animal. Its background as the forest pig means that it is ideally suited to outdoor production, even in rough woodland. A rugged and thrifty animal particularly suited for grazing, salvaging crops or following behind grazing cattle. They are disease resistant and tolerant of temperature extremes. Their ginger color protects them from sunburn.

Uses

Primarily a bacon-pig, the Tamworth declined in popularity because of competition from modern breeds as is it not suitable for the intensive confined rearing methods Tamworths were favored the most by bacon curers because of their length and depth of sides, light waste, and their large portion of lean red meat to fat. The Tamworth is highly adaptable and suited to both quality pork and bacon production - particularly in grazing operations.