Which pig breed for tem­per­a­ment?

Country Smallholding - - Ask The Experts -

AQ Which pig breed would you rec­om­mend for good tem­per­a­ment? Which might be best avoided? Liz Shank­land says: This is such a good ques­tion! I’m for­ever be­ing asked whether it’s true that lop- eared pigs are more docile than prick- eared pigs, and the an­swer is a re­sound­ing ‘NO’! I’ve kept all kinds of pigs in my time – around eight dif­fer­ent tra­di­tional breeds and a few batches of mod­ern cross-breeds – and I can hon­estly say that, when you buy in young pigs, the most im­por­tant thing with re­gard to tem­per­a­ment is how much and how well you han­dle them. It’s ex­actly the same as buy­ing a dog – it’s nur­ture rather than na­ture that makes the dif­fer­ence.

There are lots of ur­ban myths about pig breeds. My first pigs were Tam­worths. These have, un­fairly, been given a bad rep­u­ta­tion be­cause of the ‘ Tam­worth Two’ story, which at­tracted world­wide me­dia in­ter­est when two pigs look­ing like Tam­worths es­caped from an abat­toir and went on the run. Those pigs were, in fact, the re­sult of cross­ing a Tam­worth with a wild boar, and the breed has been branded as dif­fi­cult to man­age ever since. Ab­so­lute rub­bish. Why would I have stuck with a breed for the past 15 years if the pigs were dif­fi­cult to man­age? I have re­peat cus­tomers who have been buy­ing from me for close on a decade.

Ev­ery breeder will say that their breed is the best, but I am a firm be­liever that your in­flu­ence is what gov­erns the per­son­al­ity your pigs will have. If you only see them once a day, throw the feed over the fence, and then leave them to it, they aren’t go­ing to turn into well-so­cialised pigs which are a plea­sure to man­age. Spend some time with them each day, get to know them, and you’ll see the dif­fer­ence.

Try a dif­fer­ent breed ev­ery time. They are all dif­fer­ent, and that’s what makes them so fas­ci­nat­ing. Best of luck.

A lop-eared or prick-eared breed? Here an Ox­ford Sandy & Back is face to face with a Mid­dle White.

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