Bringing home the bacon - Dorset County Show to stage National Tamworth Pig Championships

Pig breeders from across the country will be descending on Dorchester this year for the National Tamworth pig championships.

The breed society has chosen the Dorset County Show for the championships and pig stewards will need to be on their mettle to cope with the tenacious breed.

The Tamworth Two hit the headlines at the turn of the century when a pair of pigs escaped while being unloaded from a lorry at an abattoir near Malmesbury, Wiltshire and successfully evaded capture for more than a week.

The pigs, later named Butch and Sundance after Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, escaped by squeezing through a fence and swimming across the River Avon, before fleeing into nearby gardens and on to Tetbury Hill. Their bid for freedom was covered by American and Japanese media and the pair were given a stay of execution, living until 2010 and 2011.

Ryan Perry, Tamworth Breeding Society spokesman, said that although the pigs could be tenacious they had a fantastic character:

“It is true that they have developed a reputation that they are quite naughty and a little mischievous but actually they have a brilliant temperament and are a great all round pig.”

There are between 200-300 breeding sows in the UK and Mr Perry said the breed had been on the Rare Breeds Survival trust “vulnerable” list for many years.

Mr Perry said he hoped many breeders in the south of England would exhibit in the show classes: “It is a great chance for southern breeders who don’t normally travel to shows to exhibit and we have a fantastically experienced judge in Caroline Wheatley-Hubbard.”

Mrs Wheatley-Hubbard runs the oldest registered herd in the UK – the Berkswell herd – which was founded nearly 100 years ago.

The Tamworth is among the oldest of pig breeds in the UK, has a distinctive ginger or red colour and is thought to have descended from wild boars via native European pig stock. The breed was recognised in the 1860’s and Tamworths were imported into the United States and Canada twenty years later.

Like many other traditional breeds, the Tamworth suffered greatly after 1945 as farmers were urged to concentrate on faster-growing, more economical breeds.

Peter Siviter, Dorset County Show Pig Steward, said: “We’re thrilled to welcome the Tamworth National Championships to the Dorset County Show this year.

“With record pig entries year on year here at Dorchester it is appropriate and immensely satisfying to be hosting such a prestigious final for this fine traditional breed.

“Many breeders will be putting in a lot of preparation over the coming months and I’d like to wish the best of luck to all entries.”

Rebecca Cox
28th Jun 2016 15:11:00

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