The Tamworth , also known as Sandy Back and Tam , is a breed of domestic pig originating from its namesake Tamworth , Staffordshire UK , with contributions from Irish pigs. It is among the oldest breeds of pigs, but as with many older breeds of cattle, it is not well adapted to modern production methods and is listed as "Threatened" in the United States and "Vulnerable" in the United Kingdom by Rare Breeds Survival magazine. Be confident, as there are less than 300 registered breeding females left. This animal has a coloring between ginger and red and is believed to be descended from wild boar, through the native European pigs. The main populations at present are in the United Kingdom, Australia, United States, New Zealand and Canada.
This breed exhibits an elongated head shape and a long, narrow body. The ears are erect and pointed, while the face has straight lines as well as the muzzle. Colors range from pale ginger to dark mahogany red. At the beginning of the breed's history, the colors were orange and purple, but a reproduction has been made to eliminate the orange coloration. The density of the bristles protects their skin from the sun's ultraviolet damage; however, when they molt between June and August (in the northern hemisphere), they seek shade along with an abundant layer of mud to avoid sunburn . The mud layer also provides a way for the pigs to cool down, since pigs cannot sweat.
The Tamworths are considered a medium sized breed of pig, with an adult boar ranging from 550 to 820 lb (250 to 370 kg) and the mature sow ranging from 440 to 660 lb (200 to 300 kg). Adult lengths range from 39 to 55 inches (100 to 140 cm) and heights of approximately 20 to 26 inches (50 to 65 cm) are common. The adult curly tail is between 9.4 to 12 inches (24 to 30 cm). This animal is characterized by a long neck and legs with deep sides, but narrow backs. The structure of the ham is quite muscular and firm. The breed is also known for having an excellent foot structure and a good skeletal system. The size of the litter is usually somewhat smaller than that of commercial breeds. Unacceptable characteristics according to breeders are: curly hair, rough mane, turned-up nose and dark spots on the coat.
Tamworth adult pig, aberdeenshire , Scotland
The most outstanding feature of the Tamworth is its great resistance to adverse weather conditions. Therefore, the breed does well in its more northern environments, such as Scotland and Canada, where winters are severe, not only in terms of cold but also in terms of strong winds. The animal is not only durable and resistant, but is also extremely suitable for grazing in the forest, and can thrive on ferns . The Tamworth graze in a way that is compatible with livestock, being able to recover the fodder that the cattle leave in the open pastures. That said, Tamworth pigs can be protective of their territories, so they are somewhat aggressive with any other livestock on the same pasture. This animal is very efficient at digging while foraging in the forest or on the pasture. The breed is used in forage-based agricultural systems. The sows show good maternal skills, being constant in the lactation of all littermates. Litters normally vary in size from six to ten piglets. Piglets at birth are often wild and distrustful of humans, but they adapt easily to human interaction. Tamworths show a good disposition and enjoy the attention of humans.
The Tamworth breed of pig originated in Sir Robert Peel's Drayton Manor Estate in Tamworth , Staffordshire , after the existing herd was crossed from 1812 with Irish pigs known as "Irish Shepherds", which Peel had seen in Ireland in 1809. Much of the breed improvement took place in Staffordshire and also in the counties of Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, England. The breed is among the least crossed with non-European breeds and therefore one of the closest to the original European forest pigs.
In 1865, Tamworths achieved recognition of the English breed and in 1885 the studbook was started. The Tamworths were imported into the United States by Thomas Bennett of Rossville, Illinois , in 1882. They soon entered Canada, where there is now a population. Tamworth breed associations of pigs are active in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada; however, they are considered a minor breed. From 1913 to mid-century, the breed reached peak numbers in Canada, reaching up to 10% of the total swine population. In Australia, the breed reached a maximum number of about 1000 by the middle of the 20th century. The number of modern herds has reached critically small numbers in each of the five recognized countries that have these animals.
A Tamworth sow with her piglets
Being a breed considered quite distant genetically from most modern commercial pigs, Tamworth is considered an excellent choice for crossbreeding. It is sometimes called a "bacon pig" because of its ability to achieve a high body mass without having much actual fat. The current known populations (breeding females) are: USA (1000); United Kingdom (340); Canada (254); Australia (55) and New Zealand (40). The breeding societies in each country consider conservation as the highest priority, with a strong emphasis on record keeping.