Raising Tamworth pigs
Source: Craig Floyd, owner, Footsteps Farm, Stonington, CT
Pigs are interesting animals to raise and they taste good, too. One of my favorites is an heirloom species called the Tamworth.
This old, rare breed hails from the English Midlands, and still rolls in the royal mud on Prince Charles's farm. Regarded by many as the aristocrat of the pig world, this long-legged ginger pig with large pricked-up ears is suited to free-ranging and forest grazing. So they're a perfect porcine for anyone who has a piece of overgrown land that needs clearing. They're easy to keep and quite content being raised on pasture with veggie scraps from the garden. Very good mothers and friendly in nature, they like to interact with humans.
Tamworth owner Craig Floyd says his 30 pigs do a good job cleaning up the pastures. Because they have really long snouts, they earn their keep as rototillers.
"They will plow our pastures for us so we can overseed in February and March, which brings better grass for the cows and then the cow manure gives fly larvae for the chickens," Floyd says. "But they spend a lot of time rooting, and getting grubs and worms and beetles. And in the fall we turn them into an oak pasture."
Tamworths will eat fallen acorns, which adds a distinctive flavor to pork chops. But the best thing they're known for is the quality of their lean bacon.
"The outstanding flavor in the bacon will blow you away," Floyd says. "And the other thing Tamworths are perfect for is bangers. They're kind of like a hot dog in a way in their shape, but their taste is different. Bangers and mash is a favorite English meal."
Tamworths on the Floyd farm never stand on concrete. They live in little Quonset huts and stay outside all year because they don't easily tolerate the stress of being in confinement. They do take longer than other breeds to get to market weight because they're long and lean from getting a lot of exercise.
Breeds of livestock: This database from Oklahoma State University offers extensive information on hundreds of livestock breeds, including Tamworth pigs.
Photo: Oklahoma State University
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