A Few Facts About Saddleback Pigs
British Saddleback pigs are famous for their appearance as well as the high quality of their meat. The pig is also in most circles regarded as an easy breeder because of its mellow temperament and ease in handling. It gets its name from its rather striking color pattern. Saddleback pigs are black with the exception of an unbroken white band over the shoulders and down the front legs. The band passing over the shoulders gives the appearance of a white saddle. Some saddleback pigs have traces of white elsewhere, such as the tip of the tail, or in some cases on the hind legs. This added white coloration is not regarded as detrimental in the show ring.
Origins – The true origins of the British Saddleback pigs are somewhat unclear, though it is believed to have evolved from the British forest pig. The Saddleback is adept at foraging in woodlands, where its diet includes a variety of nuts, such as chestnuts, acorns and beech nuts. The modern Saddleback is actually a hybrid between two breeds, the Wessex Saddleback and the Essex pig. The Wessex pig was the choice of many farmers while the Essex was generally considered to be a rather exotic breed. The British Saddleback is sometimes referred to as a Wessex Saddleback, but this designation is not accurate, as two distinct breeds are involved. The British Saddleback came into being by crossing the Wessex and Essex pigs, as both breeds were on the verge of becoming extinct, or at least were certainly candidates for the endangered list. A great deal of information regarding the breed, including its history and bloodlines, can be found on the web site of the British Saddleback Breeders’ Club.
The Hampshire pig, one of the leading commercial breeds in the United States, has its origins in the Wessex Saddleback, and was imported from England in the 19th Century. The Hampshire has been reintroduced to the United Kingdom, but is now a breed apart from both the Wessex Saddleback and the British Saddleback.
It’s In The Ears And Coat Pattern – One of the reasons for the popularity of British Saddleback pigs is its temperament, which makes it an easy breeder. Some credit this to the fact that it is a lop eared pig, and many pig fanciers will say that lop eared breeds in general have more gentle dispositions than their prick-eared cousins. In fact, saddleback pigs could be called positively docile when compared to other breeds, a number of which become quite ill-tempered when fully grown. Others will tell you that pigs with a saddleback pattern, and there are many breeds sharing this distinction, have a gentler temperament and produce better pork than their less colorful counterparts. Whether there is anything to this or not, it is generally accepted as fact that saddleback pork is of a higher quality than the ultra lean pork coming from most of the other meat producing breeds.
A Good Starter Breed – The British saddleback is a very prolific breed, perhaps one of the most prolific, which is yet another reason it is such a favorite among those who breed and raise pigs for the marketplace. The sows have a fairly long life span and continue to produce litters much longer than do most other breeds. They are considered to be an excellent starter breed for the small farmer or one just getting into the business. Another advantage is that this breed can be successfully farmed in warmer climates, as their black coat protects them from sunburn, an affliction somewhat common to pinkish and white breeds. It can also be said, that the British Saddleback pigs are rather handsome animals. If you see a photographic image of one, you’ll very likely agree.