British Saddleback Pig

The British Saddleback pig is a very hardy and adaptable breed of domestic pig which is known for it’s ability to thrive out of doors. It’s a modern breed from United Kingdom.

It was created by merging the surviving populations of two traditional saddleback breed, the Essex and Wessex Saddleback in 1967. Those two pig breeds were merged into a single herdbook.

Both breeds had declined following the publication of the Howitt report in 1955, which found breed diversity to be a handicap to the pig industry in Britain, and established a policy of concentrating production on three breeds only: the Welsh, the British Landrace and the Large White.

About 47 percent of the total pedigree sow registrations were from the Wessex and Essex breed during the Second World War. There were only 2435 licensed Wessex and Essex boars in 1949, almost 25 percent of the total number.

And the sow registration for this two breeds had fallen to 22 percent of the total by 1954. And fewer than 10 percent of registered boars were from the Wessex and Essex breeds.

However, in 2007 the British Saddleback pig breed was listed as ‘endangered-maintained‘ by FAO. And the breed is listed as ‘minority breed‘ by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust rather than a rare breed.

Total population of the breed was reported to be only 882 animal in 2012. Read more information about the breed below.

Specialties of British Saddleback Pig

The British Saddleback pig is a heritage breed that has captured the hearts of farmers and food enthusiasts alike. It is a popular breed which is known for it’s distinctive black and white coat.

This is a remarkable breed and it boasts a rich history, unique characteristics, and a growing popularity in today’s culinary world. However, here we are going to explore the specialties of the British Saddleback pig.

1. A Traditional/Historical Breed

The British Saddleback is a traditional British pig breed. It is also known simply as the Saddleback, and it dates back to the 18th century.

It is believed to have originated in the southwestern regions of England, particularly in the counties of Devon and Somerset. The breed’s name is derived from it’s distinctive coloring—a black saddle-like patch on it’s back, contrasting with a white body.

Throughout it’s history, the British Saddleback breed has been highly regarded for it’s versatility and adaptability. It was bred to thrive in the rugged landscapes of the British Isles, where it could forage for food and withstand harsh weather conditions.

Over the years, the breed has also shown exceptional mothering abilities and adaptability to various farming systems. Today, it is among the most popular pig breed in the western countries.

2. Temperament

These pigs are known for their docile and friendly temperament. They are often described as calm and easy to handle, making them a popular choice among small-scale farmers and homesteaders.

Their affable nature also makes them well-suited for raising in diverse farming systems, including free-range and pasture-based operations.

One of the most notable qualities of the British Saddleback is it’s excellent maternal instincts. Sows are known to be attentive and caring mothers, which contributes to the breed’s reputation as a good choice for piglet rearing.

Their adaptability to various environments and ability to forage for food make them a sustainable choice for farmers seeking a heritage breed with low input requirements.

3. Meat Quality

The quality of it’s meat is really very good. And the breed truly shines for it’s meat quality. The meat from British Saddleback pigs is prized for it’s exceptional flavor and tenderness.

4. Culinary Applications

The exceptional quality of British Saddleback pork has made it a favorite among chefs and food enthusiasts. It’s versatility in the kitchen allows for a wide array of culinary applications.

However, here are some popular dishes and products that feature British Saddleback pork:

Roasts: These pork roasts are a classic favorite. The meat’s marbling ensures that it remains moist and flavorful when slow-cooked to perfection.

Sausages: The breed’s well-balanced fat-to-lean ratio makes it an excellent choice for crafting flavorful sausages.

Bacon: British Saddleback bacon is renowned for its rich, smoky flavor and crisp texture, making it a staple in many breakfast dishes and sandwiches.

Charcuterie: The breed’s meat is highly suitable for charcuterie production, contributing to the creation of delicious cured meats such as salami and prosciutto.

Pulled Pork: British Saddleback pork’s tenderness lends itself perfectly to pulled pork dishes, whether in sandwiches, tacos, or other culinary creations.

5. Sustainability and Conservation

The British Saddleback pigs play a role in heritage breed conservation and sustainable agriculture. By raising and supporting these breeds, farmers contribute to the preservation of genetic diversity within the pig population.

This genetic diversity can be invaluable in the face of changing agricultural landscapes and disease challenges.

Furthermore, British Saddleback pigs are well-suited to pasture-based and regenerative farming practices.

Their ability to forage for food and adapt to diverse environments makes them a sustainable choice for farmers who prioritize environmentally friendly and ethical livestock management.

British Saddleback Pig Characteristics

The British Saddleback pig is a large animal with deep body. It is mainly black in color with a white saddle or sheet- a band round the withers, shoulders and front legs.

Some white is also allowed on the nose, tail and hind feet. The animals have log ears.

Average live body weight of the mature British Saddleback boars is around 320 kg. And the mature sows on average weight around 270 kg. Photo and info from Wikipedia.

Distinctive Physical Appearance

One of the first things that sets the British Saddleback pig apart is it;s striking appearance. This breed is easily characterized by it’s black saddle-like patch on it’s back, which stands in contrast to the rest of it’s white body.

This saddle-shaped marking is a prominent and memorable feature, giving the pig it’s name. It is a medium to large-sized pig, and it is known for it’s strong and robust build.

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It’s body is deep and well-proportioned, with a sturdy frame that allows it to thrive in various environments. The breed’s legs are solid and well-muscled, enabling it to move comfortably and efficiently.

Head of this pig features a slightly upturned snout and expressive eyes. It’s ears are semi-floppy, framing it’s face in a way that adds to its endearing appearance.

Overall, the British Saddleback’s unique combination of black and white coloring, coupled with its well-balanced physique, makes it a visually distinct and appealing breed.

Temperament and Personality

The British Saddleback pig is known for it’s docile and friendly temperament. This amiable disposition makes it a preferred choice among farmers and small-scale producers.

It’s calm and cooperative nature makes it easier to handle and manage, particularly in situations where close human interaction is required.

The breed’s gentle temperament extends to it’s interactions with other pigs and animals on the farm.

British Saddlebacks are generally non-aggressive and are often noted for their sociable behavior within a group. These qualities contribute to a harmonious farm environment and ease of management.

Adaptability and Foraging Ability

One of the remarkable traits of this pig is it’s adaptability to various farming systems and environments. Historically, this breed was developed to thrive in the challenging landscapes of the British Isles.

As a result, it has evolved to be hardy and adaptable, capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions and rugged terrains.

British Saddlebacks are excellent foragers, which means they have a natural ability to search for and consume a wide range of food sources.

Their foraging skills make them suitable for free-range and pasture-based farming systems. They can efficiently utilize pasture resources and convert them into meat, reducing the need for concentrated feeds.

Sows are Excellent Mothers

Another notable characteristic of this pig breed is it’s exceptional maternal instincts. Sows are renowned for their nurturing and attentive behavior towards their piglets.

They exhibit strong maternal instincts, which contribute to successful piglet rearing. This quality is highly valued by farmers who raise British Saddlebacks for breeding purposes.

It ensures the health and well-being of piglets, leading to higher survival rates and healthier offspring. The breed’s natural mothering abilities make it a preferred choice for those looking to maintain and improve their breeding stock.

Best Tips for Raising British Saddleback Pigs

Raising British Saddleback pigs is relatively easy and simple. As we have mentioned previously, these pigs are very easy to care and they require less caring. So, raising them is relatively easy.

Although, taking good care of the animals is very important. Good care ensure good health of the animals, and a healthy animal ensures good production. Here are some best tips for caring these pigs.

1. Learn Practically

First of all, we will suggest you to learn more about commercial pig farming practically. Having practical knowledge is very important. So, try to learn from existing farmers in your area.

2. Make a Business Plan

Making a very good and effective business plan is also very important. A good and effective business plan helps to run a business smoothly. So, try to make a good and effective business plan and work according to the plan. You can also seek for help from an expert if you are a beginner.

3. Start Small & Expand Gradually

We always recommend starting with a few animals, gather experience and expand gradually. Doing this is very important for better farm management and maximum profits.

4. Select Healthy Breed

The most crucial step in raising British Saddleback pigs is to choose the right breed. British Saddlebacks are known for their adaptability, docile nature, and culinary excellence.

Ensure that you acquire your pigs from a reputable breeder or source to start with healthy and well-cared-for animals. If possible, purchase the animals from any of your local breeder.

5. Make a Good House

Before bringing British Saddleback pigs onto your farm, plan and prepare their living space. Pigs need ample room to move, root, and forage. Create a secure and comfortable environment with appropriate fencing and shelter.

6. Secure Fencing

Pigs are notorious escape artists, so invest in sturdy fencing to keep them contained. Electric fencing is often an effective choice. Ensure that there are no gaps or weak points that pigs can exploit to roam freely.

7. Provide Shelter and Shade

Provide adequate shelter to protect your British Saddleback pigs from harsh weather conditions. A well-ventilated pig house with dry bedding is essential. Also ensure they have access to shade during hot summer months.

8. Provide Nutritious Food

Like many other domestic farm animals, pigs have specific dietary requirements. Consult with a veterinarian or experienced pig farmer to develop a nutritionally balanced diet for your British Saddleback pigs. High-quality commercial pig feed, supplemented with forage, is often a suitable option.

9. Ensure Clean Water Supply

Fresh, clean water is critical for pig health. Install a reliable water supply system that allows pigs to access clean water at all times. Check waterers regularly to ensure they are functioning correctly.

10. Foraging Opportunities

British Saddleback pigs are natural foragers. Encourage their foraging instincts by providing access to pastures and wooded areas where they can root and search for food. This not only enriches their lives but also reduces feeding costs.

11. Avoid Overfeeding

Overfeeding can lead to obesity and health issues in pigs. Monitor their food intake carefully, especially if you’re supplementing with kitchen scraps or other food sources. Adjust their diet as needed to maintain a healthy weight.

12. Perform Regular Health Checks

Establish a routine health check schedule with a veterinarian. Regular check-ups and vaccinations can help to prevent and detect health issues early. Make sure your pigs are free from parasites and manage them promptly if necessary.

13. Maintain Proper Breeding Management

If you plan to breed your British Saddleback pigs, learn about proper breeding management. Ensure that sows have comfortable farrowing areas and provide care for piglets, including proper nutrition and vaccination.

These pigs have specific reproduction cycles. Familiarize yourself with these cycles and the signs of heat in sows to optimize breeding and farrowing times.

14. Weaning Piglets Timely is Important

Weaning piglets at the right time is crucial for their growth and development. Aim to wean them at about 6 to 8 weeks of age, ensuring they have access to appropriate feed and water.

15. Marketing

If you’re raising British Saddleback pigs for meat production, develop a marketing plan. Consider local markets, restaurants, or direct sales to consumers. Ensure compliance with regulations and permits.

Special Notes

The British Saddleback pigs are very hardy animal, and they are excellent foragers. They are well adapted to local and a variety of climates, and they do very well in extensive pig farming system.

They have been exported to Seychelles and Nigeria where they have performed on coarse grazing in hot climatic conditions. The sows are excellent mothers and are well known for their maternal qualities.

The British Saddleback pig is actually a dual purpose breed, and it is used for both bacon and pork production. It has traditionally been managed on pasture, and the breed has also been used in commercial crossbreeding systems, especially with Large White pigs.

However, review full breed profile of the British Saddleback pig in the following chart.

Breed NameBritish Saddleback
Other NameSaddleback
Special NotesVery hardy, well adapted to a variety of climates, excellent foragers, very good for extensive system, sows are known for excellent maternal qualities, good for both bacon and pork production
Breed SizeLarge
BoarsAround 320 kg
SowsAround 270 kg
Climate ToleranceAll climates
ColorMainly black in color with a white saddle or sheet- a band round the withers, shoulders and front legs
RarityCommon
Country/Place of OriginUnited Kingdom

Related Queries & FAQs

There are lots of questions and queries related to British Saddleback pigs. Here we are trying to list the common questions and queries about this pig breed. Hope you will find answers of your questions or queries. Don’t hesitate to ask us if you have more questions.

What is a British Saddleback pig?

A British Saddleback is a breed name of domestic pig that is known for it’s distinctive black and white coloration. It is a hardy and versatile breed with a rich history in British agriculture. It is very popular in the western countries.

What are the characteristics of British Saddleback pigs?

British Saddlebacks are medium to large-sized pigs with a long, deep body. They have a black coat with a white saddle-shaped marking that extends from their shoulders to their hindquarters.

What is the origin of the British Saddleback pig breed?

The British Saddleback pig breed originated in the United Kingdom, with it’s roots tracing back to the early 20th century. It was developed by crossing Essex and Wessex Saddleback pigs.

Are British Saddleback pigs good for meat production?

Yes, British Saddleback pigs are valued for their meat quality. They produce well-marbled, flavorful pork that is favored by many for its taste and tenderness.

Are British Saddleback pigs suitable for outdoor or pasture-based farming?

Yes, British Saddleback pigs are well-suited for outdoor and pasture-based farming systems. They are known for their hardiness and adaptability to various environmental conditions.

What is the temperament of British Saddleback pigs?

British Saddleback pigs are known for their docile and friendly temperament. They are often considered easy to handle and work with.

How long does it take for British Saddleback pigs to reach market weight?

The time it takes for British Saddleback pigs to reach market weight can vary depending on factors like diet and management practices. Generally, they can reach market weight in about 6 to 8 months.

What is the typical litter size for British Saddleback sows?

British Saddleback sows typically have litters ranging from 8 to 12 piglets, although larger litters are possible with good management.

Are British Saddleback pigs considered a rare breed?

British Saddleback pigs are not classified as a rare breed.

What are some advantages of raising British Saddleback pigs?

British Saddleback pigs are well-suited for small-scale farming due to their calm temperament, suitability for pasture-based systems, and high-quality meat production, making them a good choice for sustainable and niche markets.

Do British Saddleback pigs require any special care or management?

These pigs are are very hardy, and like all pig breeds, British Saddleback pigs require proper care and attention. They need access to shelter, clean water, balanced nutrition, and regular veterinary care to thrive.

Are British Saddleback pigs suitable for breeding on a commercial scale?

Yes, British Saddleback pigs can be bred on a commercial scale, especially for those looking to produce high-quality pork for niche markets or specialty products.

What is the typical lifespan of a British Saddleback pig?

The lifespan of a British Saddleback pig can vary, but they are typically raised for meat production and are harvested at around 6 to 8 months of age.

Are British Saddleback pigs prone to any specific health issues or diseases?

Like all pigs, they can be susceptible to various health issues, including respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases. Proper sanitation and regular veterinary care are essential for their well-being.

What is the typical weight range for mature British Saddleback pigs?

Mature British Saddleback pigs can weigh between 225 to 360 kilograms or more, depending on their age, genetics, and management.

Can you crossbreed British Saddleback pigs with other pig breeds?

Yes, it is possible to crossbreed British Saddleback pigs with other breeds to achieve specific traits or characteristics in the offspring. This is a common practice in pig farming to meet different market demands.

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