All the news from 2010 | Back to 2011 News




saddlebacks in snowsaddlebacks in snow

Snow, snow and more snow interspersed with temperatures that have dropped to -20C. Frozen solid water bowls, ice 2inches thick overnight would you may have thought ,put the Saddleback pigs into hibernation. But not so the randy Coal Yeat Grand Duke boar who has been manfully doing his job regardless of the winter weather.
I have felt like an "ice road trucker" delivering water and fodder to the outlying free range Saddleback pigs. I have never driven so slowly, in second 4 wheel drive for so long to, supply the Saddleback pigs. Currently I still have 25 dry sows and gilts running with different Saddleback boars running outside.They clearly do no like the hard frozen trodden ground, as they gingerly tiptoe out of their arks for their food and drink. But remain warm and snug cuddling up in their snow proof pig arks.
I have one Saddleback sow to return to Brian Mulkeen which arrived in September to visit the boar. Four times we have made arrangements to deliver the Saddleback sow home, each time to be beaten by snow or ice. I will return, when I eventually get down to Brians, via John Appletons farm to pick up a return load of small bale straw. John still has the famous Rainbarrow herd of British Saddleback pigs, established by his late father Jim.
I have had a Stockbroker boar ordered from John for some months so I will be selecting from his growing young stock for a future junior Saddleback herd boar to cover Saddleback gilts.
Less of the pigs more about me. Im off to Canada skiing and will not be returning until 18 January so please do not call my mobile on the Canadian ski slopes--- emails will always be returned. Margaret, my wife and Harry my Grandson will be coming too, so as a level 2 ski instructor I aim to turn Harry into a 'pro'!
Bookings for the Pigkeeping courses for 2011 are already coming in, all we need is a deposit of £25 to reserve your place on our extensive programme which will include days courses and weekend courses for all pigkeepers.
Any one wishing to book on the pigkeeping courses should contact Carole directly.
2010 has been a very successful year for the Coal Yeat herd of pedigree Saddleback pigs with more prizes won and more pedigree Saddleback pigs sold.
May I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a most happy pigkeeping New Year.






Saddleback pigs survive early winter ice and snows.

Pig keeping in Arctic conditions is no fun for the outdoor Saddleback pigs.No long hair as on polar bears or yaks to keep them insulated against the cutting east winds blown in from Russia.
Not even the opportunity to hibernate like the bears in their winter dens. But being communal animals the Saddlebacks do like to cuddle up together in their warm arks venturing out only for food water and a friendly stroke .The Saddlebacks do not like the frozen ground which only a week ago was deep mud and now is an undulating concrete assault course.
The wintry weather is also effecting the pigkeepers. Not only does it take a lot of extra time carrying water to frozen water bowls, feed wagon deliveries are days behind, but more importantly we have had to postpone our trip south to Spencer and Kassia's wedding-- now postponed until next weekend [snow permitting].
With icebergs in the slurry pit, the estuary having frozen sands on Morcambe Bay, and the road to Bridgefild Farm an ice rink its very fortunate that I put new snow and mud tyres on my 4x4 .
With the outdoor free range Saddleback pigs scattered in different fields around the Crake Valley road access is essential.The Saddlebacks have just had their 7 day treatment for worms and lice by getting ectomycin added to their food. I like to give them all a good clear out of any internal or external parasites twice a year to ensure the healthiest of Saddleback pigs.
I have a very nice selection of breeding pedigree Saddleback pigs for sale at the moment, even some gilts with litters at foot, in pig, or having run with the boar. Just give me a call on 07887731552 to discuss the finer details.


harry feeding snowy pigs snowy arkskeeping warm





agm indoors

We have to the facts, its time to let go of summer.We scraped the first frost off the car windows last week,there's a tang of wood smoke in the air and although there is beautiful autumnal sunshine about, it has a distinctively watery feel. So, its time to dig out the wooly hats and scarves, kick trough the piles of ruddy crisp autumnal leaves and embrace this colourful autumn.
The last pig keeping course, fully booked, was bathed in sunshine. So warm in fact that we were able to sunbath while sitting outside Lowick community hall, eating lunch. This venue is proving a perfect base for all the pig keeping courses, and last Sunday the British Saddleback Club AGM, which I hosted.

presentation 1presentation 2harry presentation

A great attendance of over 40 members traveled from all parts of the UK (Wales, Caithness, Sussex, E Yorks coast,Cornwall and the North of England). The days programme took in a visit to Bridgefield Farm to view all ages of British Saddleback pigs and the day finished with a visit to Aireys Abattoir and cutting rooms. All the Saddleback Club members were treated to a lunch of home made soup, Saddleback pork sandwiches, with lemon drizzle cake and trifle as deserts. It was a real family effort as Margaret my wife, who keeps well away from the pigs, aided by Harry and Imogen my grandchildren worked away all morning preparing the Saddleback feast.

family effort

Thanks must also go to Spencer and Kasia who came to stay with us for a few days and threw themselves into helping to clean the pig yard and help with the days events. The pressure washed pig yard enabled all Saddleback Club members to keep clean boots and shoes and return home with no piggy scents.
The next pig keeping course on Saturday 20th of November is filling up fast, so if you are thinking of attending please book now.
Similarly the showing weekend in March 2011 (26/27th) is now 50% full. This will be a unique opportunity to learn so much about your pigs, selection of the best breeding stock suitable for showing.
Even if you do not intend to venture forth into the show ring it will give you the opportunity to learn about many finer points of pig keeping and your pigs and make you re-evaluate your own stock. This pig keeping course will be equally suitable for beginners or pig keepers who want to learn more. Personally I cannot wait as I know I will learn so much from Steve Richardson, a breeder, exhibitor and judge. A small deposit will ensure your place is reserved on this unique pig keeping course weekend.
We, Carole and I look forward to a fantastic weekend and a full programme of pig keeping courses in 2011




pig keeping coursesmore pig keeping coursemore pig keeping

We already have a star pupil. Harry my ten year old grandson won a large shield emblazoned with a small Saddleback pig for winning the young handlers class at the recent Penistone show in Yorkshire.
After the rigors of Westmorland County Show it was very relaxing for me to be the pen man preparing the Oxford Sandy and Black pigs together with the British Saddleback pigs for the two lads to show.Harry was accompanied by Dylls his best friend,both of whom have spent most of the spring and summer Saturday mornings training their pigs.
What a great job they did of showing the pigs in the pedigree classes.Harry's own Oxford Sandy and Black July gilt  was the best rare breed pig at the show as the champion was a Hampshire pig and the reserve a massive Large White .Dylls was even runner up in the young handlers class and so nearly pipped Harry.
The most recent pigkeeping course in September was a total sell out as we don't take more than 12 people on the pigkeeping course.The recent torrential rain has turned the pig pens housing the Saddleback pigs into mud baths and I really need to try to house them shortly.
Harry's July gilt OSAB is due to farrow and is already a day or two overdue,with Imogen's July gilt due in a couple of weeks.These last two weeks have seen the first OSAB pigs heading to the butchers,some 10-15kilo lighter than their Saddleback counterparts.It has been very interesting having Saddlebacks ,Lops and OSAB growing pigs all running together outside together in the same pens.The opportunity to compare growth rates ,food conversion,and carcass quality has thrown up some interesting results for these bought in weaners.
Currently I have some Berkshire,Welsh,Saddleback.Hampshire,and Lop pigs in the finishing unit.I hope its going to be a busy Autumn for the 3 butchers I supply.
Next year we are introducing a new pigkeeping course 'Selecting ,training your pig for show together with preparing yourself for the show ring'.
This will be a weekend course at the end of March 2011.Steve Richardson an experienced breeder,judge and exhibitor of Large Black and Middle White pigs will be joining myself and Carole to offer the most comprehensive course of this nature.
I'm sure we will all learn lots especially what a judge is looking for in the show ring which relates directly to breeding correct pigs.This entire weekend is based on increasing your pig breeding skills as well as giving you the benefit of all experience of years of showing pigs from Carole.Steve,and John.
You will leave with total confidence to breed better pigs and the ability to win prizes in the show ring.We are condencing over 30 years of breeding and showing knowledge into a weekend.
Weather you are just thinking of exhibiting pigs for the first time[being a total novice in the show ring] or are wondering why you are not winning rosettes in the ring,or just want to breed and handle pigs more successfully,THIS WEEKEND IS FOR YOU.
Places are limited to a dozen people and we already have 4 bookings so if you intend to join us on this unique opportunity please book soon.Full details are on our dedicated page on this site.

even more pig keeping courses





showing pigs harry showing pigs dyls showing

What a difference in a day! Today the day after the County Show its pouring with rain and has put down nearly an inch of water,but at the show yesterday we were so fortunate with a perfect dry day. The crowds poured in and the pig marquee was extremely busy with a constant flow of people eager to see the pigs. The biggest attraction in the pig marquee was my British Saddleback sow and litter of 9 piglets which was drafted in on Wednesday morning as a demonstration / display attraction. This was encamped in an area within the marquee where the general public had access through out the day, as the rest of the marquee was closed to the public during showing. As all 100 pigs entered turned up the pig show started at 9am ,an hour early with the British Saddleback classes .With only one ring and one judge we continued to show the pigs none stop until 4.30,with the final X breed class.We had lots of success with 9 first prizes and 8 second prizes,a breed champion with Imogens Oxford Sandy and Black July gilt, the any other traditional breed reserve champion with the British Lop, which went on to win the carcass class.(No she was not killed after her her victory but judged on the hoof) The children Harry (9), Dyls(10), and Imogen(7) all showed the pedigree pigs in their respective classes as well as competing in the Young Handlers Class. Also the two trainee vets on their pigkeeping placement Nick and Rebecca did a great job when showing two totally untrained X breed pigs taken the previous day from the fattening pen. This must be proof that the planned showing weekend pigkeeping course in March 2011 will give everything you need to know about showing your pigs successfully! Special thanks must go to Tina And Emily two stalwarts of Westmorland County Show who have remembered all I have taught them while completing their Vets degrees and prepared the 22 pedigree pigs for the show ring. Without the back up team it would be impossible to be so ambitious, thank you all so much for making this show so very enjoyable. Congratulations to Jan Walton for taking the overall championship with her Duroc pig just pipping the Berkshire pig of Tracy Bretherton. No Championships for the British Saddleback's this time but I'm sure this will only stimulate us Saddleback breeders to try harder next year!! But the Saddlebacks did win the pairs class with a pair from John Wreaks out of twelve entries (24 pigs), with the Mulkeens pair of Saddlebacks coming in third. The great thing about showing pigs is how the pigs change from the start of the season in May until it ends in September. Some improve others go backwards, its always a challenge, and a pleasure to meet again with such a friendly bunch of exhibitors.

starting time sign john showing



Lots of Pedigree Saddleback Pigs at Westmorland County Show on Thursday 9th 

john with his pig john and his pig
One hundred pigs are entered for this annual county show at Crooklands only 1 
mile from junction 36 on the M6. This is a record entry surpassing the previous 
record entry by 20 pigs.
I will be exhibiting British Saddleback, Oxford Sandy and Black, Hampshire and a 
British Lop pig, taking 22 pigs in all. Yes I'm making a major effort for what is 
my local pig show being only 18 miles from my base in Lowick.
Im only able to make such a massive commitment by taking on two undergraduate 
vets who will wash and prepare the pigs in the days before Westmorland County 
Show and help show the pigs on the day. Also Emily and Tina two vets who have 
just graduated but as yet have not found suitable employment will be willing 
experienced helpers on the day, having showed pigs with the Coal Yeat Herd before.
I must not forget the young handlers Harry(10), Dyls(10) and Imogen(7) who have 
been diligently training their British Saddleback pigs and will be showing them 
in both the breed classes and the young handlers class. (Imogen will be very busy 
as she is also showing her Dartmoor pony, Mouse). Harry will also be showing his 
champion Oxford Sandy and Black pig (Duchess) which recently won the breed 
championship at Anglsey County Show.
This entry of 100 pigs now makes the Westmorland County Show the largest one day 
pig show in the country. Pig exhibitors will be traveling from all over the north 
of England and Scotland. Many of the pigs being shown will have won breed 
championships at county shows in the UK. Competition will be very keen  and the 
judge Mr C H Prentice, will have his work cut out, in which I believe is, his 
final run out as a judge before he retires.
If you are intending to come to Westmorland County Show, which is a full day out 
with so much to see and do, please try to get on the show field before 
9am. Traffic congestion has been a major problem in previous years.
Advanced tickets are available by post or over the phone by credit 
card (01539567804) and offer a 50% saving for children and approx a 15% saving 
for adults. Online bookings are also available at so 
book your tickets in advance and spend the saving on a beer at the show!
The show field opens at 8am and if you come to the pig tent early before the 
judging starts you will have chance to chat to all the exhibitors and see us all 
in a frenzy washing and preparing our pedigree pigs, the Saddlebacks shining with 
their coating of pig oil.
I look forward to welcoming you to Westmorland County Show, it's a great day out!

pig showing carole showing her pig


Provenance for British Saddleback Pigs

When one of the countries leading lights in the culinary world seeks provenance in pigs he heads to the Lake District.
Johnnie Mountain, chef and restaurateur in London is seeking a supply of rare breed British pigs with provenance for his established restaurant Mosaica@the factory in N22 and his new restaurant in the city. He was amazed at what he discovered in Lowick with the Coal Yeat Herd of pedigree British Saddleback pigs.
Everything he was searching for in one herd only 6 miles from Aireys slaughter house with their attached integrated cutting room. From birth to slaughter on one farm these Saddleback pigs have total provenance, and are brought up with the fresh lakeland air in their lungs.
We are currently working out the supply chain to furnish Johnnie Mountain's restaurants with the taste's rare breed British Saddleback pork available today. This will probably entail the establishment of Johnnies own herd of Saddleback pigs here in Lowick at Coal Yeat Farm, but details of this venture have still to be finalised.
Meanwhile two undergraduate vets, who had valuable work experience with the Saddleback pigs, have graduated. Well done Tina and Emily especially Tina who was awarded best student of her year. Both will be attending our pigkeeping course on 21st of August to brush up on forgotten details  and answer peoples specific veterinary questions.
Lots of things going on here with the Saddleback pigs with my mind looking forward to Westmorland County Show on the 9th of September, and two more undergraduate vets to visit the Saddleback pigs in late August and early September.




Saddleback's supreme at Anglesey County Show

harry harry getting prizes

What a day it was for Harry my 9 year old grandson, the' best day of his life' he said. He had the winning way with his pigs and to cap it all won the young handlers class with his new Oxford and Black pig 'Spotty'. The biggest surprise of the day was his British Saddleback gilt taking the reserve Saddleback breed championship. Harry has been training "Scatty" all spring and summer and she has been to a few shows because she is Harry's pig and he usually runs her out in the young handlers class. Her best breed prize to date was a forth at Cheshire County Show.
But now she has been to the boar and is showing in pig she is blooming and a different pig altogether. This is the beauty of pig showing that pigs change so quickly from the beginning to the end of the season. So Harry won the Oxford Sandy and Black Champion, the group of three pigs with a collection of January British Saddleback's, and was only beaten for the overall champion pig by Brian and Margaret Mullen Saddleback gilt Gars fields Rosette. This was shown by their granddaughter Emily who has developed both skill, patience, dexterity and confidence while showing this January Saddleback gilt. Well done Emily you are always the one to beat! Pig showing must be one of the few competitions where children can compete on an even footing with adults. The pig showing fraternity welcomes and encourages youngsters to show their pigs. This leads to more confident children who get immense pleasure from preparing, training and eventually showing the pigs. The next show is Westmorland County Show on the 9th of September where all the grandchildren and Idyls will be showing their Saddleback and Oxford Sandy and Black pigs. Remember pigs can give you 'The best day of my life' if only you know how! Perhaps if you come on one of our pig keeping courses we can point you in the right direction?

Harry What a winner!






Dales Traditional Butchers Ltd in Kirkby Lonsdale are Cumbrias only Traditional Breeds Meat Marketing Scheme accredited butchers.They took over this accreditation when Aireys Butchers decided to leave the scheme after 10 years. The Coal Yeat Herd of Pedigree Saddleback pigs is the sole supplier of rare breed pigs to Dales Traditional Butchers Ltd. We have been the finishing unit for initially the Rare Breed Survival Trust who conceived this scheme to promote the eating of rare breed meat under the slogan' EAT THEM TO KEEP THEM'. The concept being that approved finishing units around the UK would supply accredited butchers with a similar standard of finish to the animals be it pigs, cattle or sheep.
British Saddleback pigs have over the last 15 years outperformed other rare and traditional breeds of pigs in my extensive system of pigkeeping. My system is fully explained to everyone attending the pigkeeping courses held monthly here at Lowick.
Mark the owner of Dales Traditional Butchers Ltd loves Saddleback pigs, which are the cornerstone of his award winning sausages, pies, burgers, bacon and hams. If you start with the tastiest Saddleback pork available today you are on to a winner.
Its really rewarding to me the breeder and finisher of Saddleback pigs that Mark and his team use the Saddleback pork so creatively, and with so much confidence in their award winning products.
Below is a recent article on Dales Traditional Butchers which explains so much more. All Dales Butchers products are available by mail order or directly from his shop on the main street of Kirkby Lonsdale.

butchers butcher 2

butchers 3




No Go for Saddleback's at Gt Eccleston Show.

kids judge

Only white pigs were selected for the championship run off at Great Eccleston Show, and they were all Middle White pigs. Not a coloured pig to be seen although there were Saddleback, Oxford Sandy and Black,Berkshire and Large black pigs exhibited.
Perhaps it was the rain on Saturday, which was absorbed on the white pigs by the wood flour on their backs, as the oiled Saddleback's dripped and sparkled in the rain? Whatever, we all had fun and after the complementary bacon bapp offered by Tracy Bretherton who could complain?
The 3 children all showed their own Saddleback pigs in the breed classes, and a good job they made of it. Harry got a yellow second rosette with his pig.
The children had great expectations for the young handlers class on Sunday. When we returned to the show our Saddleback pigs had decamped--- 'gone to Taylors for bacon' said Steve who eventually took the champion pig with a January Middle White boar. But they had only been moved to provide an open space to enable us to show inside as the rain was so torrential.
It was quite a test for the children having to individually show their pig, slalom round 3 chairs, stand on a carpet and present the pig to the judge. Harry got a third, Imogen a second and Dylls a third but most importantly they all won £5! All the children were showing their Saddleback pigs, but we had not been slalom training, so the pigs were rather ebullient!
A big thanks to Tracy, Ian and Grace Bretherton for all the effort they put into making this show such a happy family fun show which all the competitors thoroughly enjoy.
What's the best way to end a drought? Either instigate a hose pipe ban or be Great Eccleston show weekend? I think over the last 7 days we must have had, in South Cumbria, a good 6 ins of rain. Once again Coniston Water is bursting its banks and the River Crake is 4 ft higher than last week. So much for a water shortage in the North West of England!
Now for a catch up, showing pigs for 5 of the last 6 days has left a few jobs neglected. But true to form a Saddleback sow did manage to farrow 10 lovely live piglets all by herself on Saturday night. Its all go with the pigkeeping courses where there are still a few vacancies on the  August course.




Saddleback's win Pig of the Year 2010 at GYS

showing pigs showing pigs

British Saddleback Pigs were triumphant for the second year in succession at the final of the Pig of the Year at the Great Yorkshire Show. Congratulations to Will and Amanda for taking this title for two consecutive years, which is an unparalleled achievement in modern pig showing times.
Their winning boar Pantysgawen Prefect is sired by Coal Yeat Prefect 259c out of the Pantysgawen Dinah 9 sow,and was born in August 2009.
I have his litter brother working away with my Saddleback gilts here in the Coal Yeat Herd of British Saddleback pigs. I took him to the GYS but he is only half the pig (in size) of his prize winning brother but still managed a rosette in his Saddleback boar class.
Oh, what a lesson we all got from Brian and Margaret Mulkeen who took four pigs to the show, 3 Saddleback's and one Welsh. The latter took the overall championship,the best pig on the field chosen from over 300 pigs forward on the day. The two January Saddleback pigs each were champions in their own right one a male and the other a female, just failing to take the overall Saddleback Championship awarded to John Wreaks's Victoria herds sow.
But .......... on day 3 of the show under a different judge my Saddleback gilt Coal Yeat Rosette came second in the young pig class for pigs born this year, out of all 30 pigs of different breeds in the ring. Success at last as she was very well shown by Kaisha who was helping me at the GYS for the first time.
My thanks for all the support and help from Spencer and Kaisha who, after helping me at 3 shows, now know all the showing etiquettes and tricks and will take the southern show circuit by storm next year.
Showing is a team effort. If Brian did not have his wife Margaret to point him in the direction of the ring and ensure he has the right number on his chest  for the correct pig, we all might stand a chance! Similarly if I didn't have my wife Margaret making me the sustaining bacon butty before the 3 days of showing I would fade away fast.
One days rest then off to Great Eccleston Show near Preston for two days showing with 3 children and 9 young pigs. This is what it's all about getting the youngsters involved and there's no better pig than the British Saddleback!

carole showing showing pigs




Photographing the photographer taking pictures of the Saddleback pigs.


Wayne Hutchinson, a specialist photographer in farm animals, was commissioned by a publisher to take a series of pig photos for a forthcoming book. They gave him a long list of all the rare breed pigs, even some pigs which do not exist in the UK, and a 8 day deadline!
He called me for help and arrived on Monday afternoon for an afternoons session with the British Saddleback,  Hampshire and Oxford Sandy and Black pigs. We were also able to combine a visit to Carole Barr's farm to photograph her Large Black and British Lop pigs, up there in Torver.
Wayne was too late to witness the detusking of the Saddleback boar but we awaited his arrival before injecting and notching the Saddleback piglets. While photographing the growing pigs at Coal Yeat Farm Wayne was mobbed but survived with only the loss of one lens cap!
Wayne has a comprehensive web site where an excellent cross section of his animal photos can be viewed and pictures of the pigs from the Coal Yeat and Ashghyll herds will soon be added.
We hope to be sent some low resolution images to put on our pigkeeping course web site especially Carole's Lop and Large Black pigs.
We also have a post graduate trainee vet, Alex, on the farm for a week so he was around whilst all this was going on. He is here for a weeks hands-on pigkeeping with the Saddleback pigs and has already injected and tooth trimmed some young piglets. Now he is really getting intimate with the Saddleback and Hampshire pigs as he is daily washing them in preparation for the Great Yorkshire Show next week.
He is very lucky as we have had 6 litters of piglets born this week, two by the new Guardsman boar, so there is lots to see and do.
The British Saddleback Breeders Club AGM's date is now firmly fixed for the 24th of October, a Sunday. This year this is taking place here in Lowick with a visit to my Coal Yeat Herd of pedigree Saddleback pigs, a visit to Aireys Slaughter house and meat packing facility and a power point presentation from Crossgates Bioenergetics. Full and final details will be available on this web site and also the British Saddleback Breeders Club web site. My family and I look forward to welcoming members and their families and friends in October when we will be having Saddleback pork for lunch!

photographer and pigs black pig



Saucy Show Saddleback Pigs take a watery wallow.

wall repaired fixed wall 2 fixed wall

The heat’s on up here in Cumbria, as the drought sets in. According to the weathermen it’s been the driest spring/early summer since the 1920’s – so little rain since the Cumbrian Floods last back end - less than 20% of the normal rainfall for the first 6 months of 2010!
The Saddleback pigs have had to resort to dust baths, but the first rain on 28th of June made lots of puddles for the Saddleback pigs to wallow in.
But to put it all in to perspective, an Australian family has just come to stay in the luxury Lakeland cottages at Coal Yeat Farm, they cannot understand we have a drought and everything is still green! In an Australian drought everything shrivels,burns and dies.
Heavy rains are forecast for the first of July to supplement the natural spring water supplies for both Bridgefield and Coal Yeat farms. Coniston water, the lake 2 miles up the road, which feeds the river Crake, is at its lowest for decades.
Let’s not forget it is only 8 months since it was so full of water it was at a record high! These floods have cost me dear as I have had to replace fencing and rebuild walls torn down by the torrents. The biggest job was rebuilding 200 yards of beck wall, washed away into Morecambe Bay.
So all the lovely clean show Saddleback pigs are now covered in mud, spending their days wallowing and resting in the shade of the Hawthorne hedge. Such is life when your preparing for the Great Yorkshire show from 12-15 July – See you there?
One show I will not be going to is Newbury. They refuse to send a schedule unless I send a self addressed stamped envelope! Here am I planning a 500 mile round trip with pen and entry fees to pay and they will not even post me a schedule. I thought shows are supposed to encourage exhibitors?


wallowing pigs pig wallowing



Coal Yeat Saddlebacks take the Saddleback championship at Cheshire County Show

harry showing harry winninrosettes

After the reserve breed champion at Newark Show we at last took the Saddleback breed championship with our new 18 month old junior Saddleback stock boar. Also as it was a very good day for the Coal Yeat Herd we took the any other modern breed championship with the home bred Hampshire July gilt.
What was especially pleasing was that the Hampshire gilt was shown by my 9 year old grandson, Harry, in the championship. He did a fantastic job of calmly showing the gilt in the very hot show ring, having had no previous acquaintance with this Hampshire pig.
Its such a shame that a show of the importance and prestige of the Great Yorkshire Show has decided to omit adult boars from their show ring. This show which takes place in Harrogate on 13-15 July purports to be England's premier pig show, but how can it be so if it excludes adult mature boars?
I have always shown mature Saddleback and Hampshire boars as the general public love seeing a fully mature boar and are always amazed by their size. Last year at the Great Yorkshire Show I exhibited 4 mature boars without any problems. It is a condition of showing boars that they are detusked so any health and safety concerns should be addressed at home before bringing a boar to the show. In my experience junior boars, the teenagers of the pig world, can be a lot more unruly and undisciplined.
The Saddleback boar who won the championship for me is Prestcombe Guardsman 4 bred by Julian Newth. This may be his last run out this year as I'm led to believe that Westmorland County Show has also excluded mature boars from competing - such a shame to exclude these magnificent animals.
Carole and I took the opportunity to promote the Pigkeeping courses at the show nd through the many conversations with so many interested people it looks like we will be very busy. The Saddleback Breeders Club has finally made up its mind and I will be hosting the annual AGM in October 2010 full details of which will be available shortly.
Finally it is now one all with Brian Mulkeen. We have a jovial unofficial competition between ourselves in the Saddleback January gilt class - pig showing is always such fun with such friendly folk! (sorry Margaret it's boys stuff). A big thanks to Spencer and Kaisha for all their help in preparing the seventeen pigs for the show ring

.wasing the pigs everyone preparing the pigs harry and imogen pairing



Saddleback Pigs ready for Cheshire County Show?

the three musketeers practising showing pigs

Next week on 22/23 of June its the annual Cheshire County Show at Tabley, Knutsford. This pigkeeper got carried away with his entries in April, and on checking my entries today find that I have entered 17 pigs! Fortunately 6 of the pigs are entered as pairs in the fat pig classes so wont require much attention other than penning, food and water. The remaining 11 are split between Hampshire and British Saddleback pigs. Harry, Imogen and their friend Dyls have been busy training their January Saddleback gilts so will be running them out in the breed classes as well as the young handler classes. They are excited as this weekend I have promised the children that they can wash their Saddleback gilts. I only hope it will be a hot sunny day as I fear the children will be as wet as the pigs. Most of the adult Hampshire and Saddleback pigs are still running about and wallowing in their outdoor paddocks. They are filthy. Fortunately all the training the children have been having with their pigs in the yard at Bridgefield Farm has given them confidence to help me round up mature large Saddleback sows and boar. Last weekend we were working on ring craft with each of us acting as the judge and awarding prizes to the training exhibitors. It is actually quite interesting emulating a pig show as it stimulates my mind to concentrate on what actually takes place in the show ring. At the last show Stafford I learned of the 'Marleen Stare', from one of the most experienced exhibitors and judges of pigs. The next few days are round up time ,washing at least 3 times ,oiling with pig oil, loading and off to the 2 day show. Luckily I have lots of helpers and I must not forget to de-tusk the mature boars as it is a showing requirement for safety. We have all the brochures printed for the pigkeeping courses together with the banners and show boards so will be using the show as a launch pad for the 2010 and 2011 pigkeeping course programme.

Imogen showing pig



Saddleback Pigs at Stafford County Show.

pigs in pens pigs in pens 2 pigs in pens 3

What an excellent two days we all spent showing our pigs at Stafford Show.
Congratulations must go to Brian and Margaret Mulkeen for winning the inter breed Pairs Class with their pair of January Saddleback pigs. These two Seventy year olds are an example to us all with their calm collected approach to showing pigs, which their granddaughters Emily has in her genes, as she also won the young handlers class with a Saddleback sow.
Unfortunately, even though I won half of the Saddleback classes, none of my British Saddleback pigs got any champion rosettes this time. But I did get the Hampshire Champion and reserve so had a run out in the interbreed competition won by the Large Black pig.
The pig keeping courses were very well received by the 100 or so people who took the brochures. It has become evident that these pig keeping courses in the Lake District will be very popular with couples and families where the uninterested in pigs can wander off over the fells, while the piggy folk have fun.We have now concluded planning the 2010 programme which will run into November and the 2011 programme will be available for booking next week. These pig keeping courses are already proving very popular and the word at Stafford show was 'its about time someone who knows what they are doing offered pigkeeping courses'. A four page colour brochure of the pigkeeping courses is going to be printed next week, for distribution at Cheshire County Show, the Great Yorkshire Show and other regional and national shows.
All the Saddleback show pigs went straight out into their pig paddocks, to be greeted by their filthy Saddleback friends who had spent the day wallowing in the mud---so hot 26 degrees C.What was the first thing the Guardsman boar did ? Yes, he served a waiting Saddleback sow immediately he entered the pen!
A quiet hot weekend ahead before laying plans for my assault on Cheshire County Show on 22/23 of June--see you there ?

rosettespig keeping courses



Pussies and British Saddleback Pigs

cat 1 cat 2

It's recently been reported in the farming press that the EU greens are at it again. This time in some sweeping bill the use of anticoagulants is potentially being banned.
This potentially will lead to an explosion of the rat population to numbers not encountered in the UK since the Great Plague. Rats and their control is paramount where livestock and especially pigs are reared and rat bait is based on anticoagulants as the killer ingredient. Rats carry all sorts of diseases which effect both humans and livestock including Weil's disease which can also lead to Leptospirosis.
The Coal Yeats Herd of British Saddleback Pigs is not immune from infestations of rats which seem to love the dry stone wall surrounding Bridgefield Farm,the hub of my pig keeping. But we have been keeping them under control with rat bait and 4 farm cats. It has been very noticeable that the rat population has dramatically reduced since the cats matured to adulthood. Felix, pre named when purchased as a kitten from the local farm in a neighbouring valley(she looks just like the cat on the tin!) is the farms matriarch. She has two sons and a daughter following a midnight session with a marauding tom cat.
So are the Saddleback pigs to be protected from rat infestations in the future only by the farm cats? What other crazy laws might the EU Greens try to put forward without realising the full consequences of their actions? Transport restrictions, licensing of moves, on farm recording, farm eco plans, buffer zones, cattle passports to name but a very few - has bureaucracy gone stark raving mad or is it just me?
Interestingly only recently have the Saddleback pigs returned to the spring paddocks to be greeted by a rat infestation surrounding the son in laws free range hens. No cats to be seen up there. Usually the rats are a winter and autumn problem but talking to a few local farmers everyone has more rats than usual this spring. Perhaps it's the late spring or the prevailing north wind?
I guess we will have to try the impossible and exterminate rats while poison is still available and hope that the EU bureaucrats see the folly of their ways. Cats for sale? Yes one little Felix look-alike to a good piggy home only.

cat 3



Boomeranging Saddleback Pigs?

pigs in woods pigs in ark pigs in woods

What have Saddleback pigs got to do with Australian Boomerangs or indeed the Aborigines who flaw kangaroos with them? No its not to do with the importation of semen or embryos of the Essex Saddleback Carl boar line from Oz but the return of  Saddleback weaner's from the South coast.
I sold some in pig gilts to a certain Mr Spencer Fielding who being so happy with these Pedigree British Saddleback pigs wanted more .
So while delivering the gilt we collected 11 strong weaner's which were conceived up here in Cumbria - hence boomeranging Saddleback pigs!
It really is a pleasure to get young pigs from a breeder who has done such a fantastic job of farrowing and rearing his first litters of Pedigree Saddleback pigs. Not to blow my own trumpet too much, or should it be a didgeridoo, this proves the point that buying pigs from an established breeder of repute is the best way forward. Not only do you get the best registered pedigree British Saddleback Pigs but also a comprehensive introductory package and telephone support on pig matters.
Spencer's Saddleback pigs wander naturally around the native Sussex woodland where they are fenced in. The largest problem in this area is the feral wild boar population which Spencer has had to build substantial electrical fencing to keep them out, as opposed to keeping his pedigree British Saddleback pigs in. Quite an unusual problem in the Uk at the moment. Not one we have at Coal Yeat Farm where the Saddleback weaner's are now enjoying new ground, along with some British Lop,Middle White and Oxford Sandy and Black weaner's all destined for the local butchers in the autumn.
Well done Spencer you are a credit to pedigree British Saddleback breeders.

pigs in woods pigs in woods



sandy and black in trailorleaving trailor 01 leaving the trailor

You by now have probably read all about pig keeping in the Coal Yeat Herd. Tips are in abundance throughout this site which will give you an insight into my enthusiasm for British Saddleback Pigs. However there's nothing like the real thing, on site, with real live pigs.
I have now joined together with Carole Barr, another local pig keeping enthusiast from Torver, to offer one day pig keeping courses for all. This is stimulated by the fantastic feedback we receive from the general public at all the shows we attend and the genuine interest from people who buy pedigree pigs from us both.
We,Carole and I, will be relaying our joint pig keeping knowledge to you which will involve so many practical solutions to pig keeping problems. These pig keeping courses will enable you to have hands on experience of handling pigs correctly. For instance how do you approach a pig? Would you approach a sow and newly born litter differently? Why do the pigs keep escaping from the same gateway? So many simple questions with so many practical answers.(See Q&A for a lots more). We are going to use the local Lowick community hall as the base for the pig keeping courses as it has every facility we need - toilets,brewing kettles and hand washing basins and room to sit and talk pigs. This is only a quarter of a mile from Bridgefield Farm where the majority of pigs are kept. However I do have 3 outdoor sites in the Crake Valley,one at Lowick House and the third at Coal Yeat Farm. Each site is quite different and offers a unique insight into outdoor pig keeping.

The following breeds of Rare Breed pigs will be available to see and handle:
Oxford Sandy and Blacks, British Saddleback, British Lop, Middle White, Large Black, some crossbred pigs and the more modern Hampshire pigs. These pigs will range from a few days old to my 8 year old Saddleback sow.
Pedigree Saddleback and Hampshire pigs are usually available from the Coal Yeat Herd year round and also Lops and Hampshire pigs from Carole.
We already have our first booking and look forward to welcoming you to this beautiful part of the Lake District National Park.
Some further details are available on the Pig Keeping courses page but full details and the booking form are available by downloading the attached pdf.
Also visit our sister website for further information

mixed pigs mixed outside


Rare Breed British Saddleback Pigs - upgraded

When is a rare breed pig not a rare breed any longer? The answer lies with the Rare Breed Survival Trust who categorise rare breed pigs and other rare breeds according to annual numbers. Recently due to increasing numbers of rare breed British Saddleback pigs in the UK the Saddlebacks have been reclassified.
Although still a rare breed the British Saddleback has been downgraded from 'endangered' to 'vulnerable'. However the returns from breeders of British Saddleback pigs gives a clear indication that several male and female bloodlines are still showing less than 10 animals alive in the UK.
Hower what is most perplexing is the number of breeders of rare breed pigs, be it Saddleback or any other of the rare breed pigs, who conspicuously fail to birth notify litters, therefore excluding possible pedigree rare breed pigs from future registration. In my opinion the birth note form from the British Pig Association is an excellent management tool for on farm records of all rare breed pigs. Only after a litter of rare breed pigs is birth notified can individual rare breed pigs be individually registered as pedigree and therefore command premium prices.
As the BPA says 'a pig without a pedigree is just another pig'. Many potential pedigree rare breed pigs have been lost forever to the future of rare breeds due to breeders apathy over birth notification.
I believe we as breeders of rare breed pigs have a duty to record pedigrees to enable future breeders to perpetuate these fine animals. With the pedigree British Saddleback the female lines of Colleen, Duchess, Molly, Lassie, Lucy and Gamma, along with the boar lines of Earl Simon and Walter all need to be watched carefully as numbers of these rare breed pigs are very low.
But one has to ask oneself why are some lines more numerous and others very rare?





Saddleback pigs return to Coal Yeat - Lake District Holiday Cottages

Coal Yeat view

Coal Yeat Farm is the spiritual home of my Saddleback herd. Purchased in 1988 as a totally derelict farm and buildings, set in 25 acres of hill pasture, all pedigree flocks and herds have adopted the Coal Yeat prefix.
This has been used for my pedigree Aberdeen Angus herd slaughtered in the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak and for my flock of Lleyn pedigree sheep. The British Saddlebacks continue to do the Coal Yeat herd name proud in the county show rings around the country.
The farm buildings have now all been totally renovated to 21st century standards providing four residential cottages and two holiday cottages on the edge of the Lake District National Park

coal yeat cottages


These Lakeland holiday cottages have recently been fully refurbished and now offer hand built kitchens with granite worktops, every conceivable modern facility including Sky TV and broadband access, while cosily accommodating up to 6 people. This is great activity countryside and pets are welcome - but sorry no pet pigs as we have no facilities to house them and I don't want to be on a 3 week standstill!
The views from Coal Yeat, uninterrupted 14 miles over the Crake Valley up to Coniston Old Man, are I believe unparalleled. Coal Yeat is a peaceful place, no road noise just the sounds of pigs, sheep, birds, cows and insects - a real rural retreat. Yet the nearest pub is only 2 miles away, shops 4 miles and the market town of Ulverston 5 miles.  Coniston Water, a lovely clean, almost boat free lake 6 miles away. Central heating gives snug warmth in winter and the thick stone walls keep it cool in summer.
Emma my daughter who runs the Lakeland holiday cottage side of things lives in the farm house adjacent to the holiday cottages, so is usually on hand to immediately sort out any tiny problems which may arise and ensure the holiday cottages are immaculately clean.
Then there are the British Saddleback pigs which spend spring ,summer and autumn entertaining all our guests in their acre of paddocks. Usually I put dry sows up there to be served then they can stay put for nearly 4 months.
The Lakeland holiday cottages at Coal Yeat Farm are available weekly, or out of season for weekend or midweek breaks,  either by booking on line or by calling Emma on 07337731552. You can even order Saddleback bacon ,sausage, ham or pork for your self catering stay to accompany eggs from Coal Yeat free range hens.
The Saddleback pigs love Coal Yeat so will you ,its the perfect place to relax and count the stars.


saddleback at coal yeatmore piga at caol yeat


Saddleback pig art, printing, greeting cards, giclee prints, raku ceramics and the real thing

pig bums

Pigs are back in fashion! Teeny mini pigs are selling for the same price as expensive pure bred puppies and becoming home based pets

Proper pigs like the British Saddleback are proving very popular with smallholders and professional pig keepers alike, as people rediscover both the taste of rare breed pork and the biddable nature of British Saddleback pigs.
Artists have also found pigs fascinating subjects for all sorts of art work. Abacus(Colour Printers) Ltd have printed lots of greeting cards, postcards, Fine Art Reproductions and Giclee prints for their nationwide clientele, featuring pigs in every conceivable pose!

saddleback pigs paintiing section of pigs painting pig drawing

 The Rare Breed Survival Trust publish a whole range  of greeting cards many of which feature the Rare Breed pigs which they support and promote, as do many individual artist publishers.

 greetings cards postcards postcard front postcard back

It does not matter if it's a clean pig, muddy pig, black and white striped Saddleback pig, a spotty Gloucester Old Spot Pig or a plain white pig everything printed at Abacus receives the same meticulous attention. Similarly it does not matter if you send in a digital photo, transparency, completely finished art work as a PDF or your original painting, Abacus can work from such a variety of origination to put your images into print. Don't forget Abacus (Colour Printers) Ltd only print waterless offset, printing naturally, to help reduce your carbon footprint by printing the greenest way.
Let's not forget the 3D sculptors who also find Saddleback pigs an inspiration. Christine Cummings works in ceramics and two of her unique cracked Raku glazed British Saddleback pigs reside in my lounge  These are fantastically beautiful sculptures that capture the true character of the Saddleback pig and only need dusting not feeding!


raku pig another raku pig
Border Fine Art have now completed the British Saddleback pig, heading to or fro the show ring with attendant handler. This Saddleback sow is based on Coal Yeat Babble 555 a Saddleback champion pig of the past, who is currently suckling her young litter (the handler is not based on yours truly!). May British Saddleback pigs continue to be an inspiration to everyone for centuries to come.

border of fine arts pig border fine arts test



British Saddleback's almost do it at Newark Show.

taking pigs for their morning walk waiting for the show to begin jsut before going into the ring

Taking the pigs for an early morning walk, patiently waiting for the show to start, In the ring soon...

It was the general consensus of opinion among breeders that my young in-pig Saddleback sow, Coal Yeat Octavia, should have been awarded the Saddleback championship at Newark and Notts County Show but the judge in his wisdom decided that a Saddleback gilt from the Victoria herd should take the prize, which went on to be reserve overall pig at the show. However I am so pleased that Octavia went so well as she had only been shown once last year and it enabled Harry my grandson to take the second prize in the well supported young handlers class. (The judge said he would have won but we could not find his shirt, tie and pants so, as inappropriately dressed, he was demoted to second place, correctly so). Harry's weekend training sessions have really paid off as the standard of young handlers improves annually, and Dyls his friend was in the prizes at the lower end. The two lads were a great help as they walked the Saddleback pigs out every morning to give the pigs a stretch and enabled them to have their morning constitutional (the pigs that is). We were promised specific breed classes for British Saddleback Pigs at the show as 5 different breeders brought over 20 Saddleback pigs with the Stewards travelling from Stranraer in Scotland - an eight hour trip. They arrived to find no pens had been allocated for them! The show was shambolic as no thought had been put into cataloguing the pig classes correctly with classes being split at the last moment. This led to even more stress on the day as promises by the show went unfulfilled.
To cap it all it was wet ,windy and cold. But my Saddleback pigs were beautifully presented by Spencer and Kasia who came up from the south coast to learn how to prepare British Saddleback pigs for the show ring. There is nothing like hands on experience and pig oil all over your hands! A big thanks to them both for helping to keep a smile on my face and working so tirelessly.
The benefit of not winning the Young Handlers class was that we managed to escape early as Grace Bretherton the winner had to wait until 4.30 to be presented with her trophy in the main ring. Two tired lads had a long sleep in the car so they were not too tired for school after 3 days at the show.
The next show outing is Staffordshire County Show on 2/3 June, where I will be showing both Saddleback's and Hampshire pigs. Anyone want to give me a hand, apparently I'm a good trainer! ? !

all the helpers showing


Three pigs and three handlers new to showing

Any Saddlebacks at the Pig and Poultry fair?

The annuall Pig and Poultry fair is coming off again in the very near future and I bet there will not be a Saddleback pig to be seen anywhere. Several of my suppliers will be spending a small fortune on taking stands in the hope of drumming up business.
One of these, Blue Merle Ltd, offers a range of Homeopathic products specifically for pigs. I have been trialing one of their newer introductions for a couple of years which has only recently been launched as Citra Prime.
This is available in a powder or liquid form and offers the following benefits to my Saddleback pigs.......
1 calm happy pigs
2 shinier coats
3 tastier meat,less fat more meat
4 less fluid loss from carcasses
5 improved weight gain
6 larger more viable litters 
7 reduced mortality in young pigs
8 no fighting among pigs
9 reduced boar taint in entire pigs
10 a happy pig farmer.
Personally I cannot get on with the liquid form and prefer the powder mixed with their feed. Having run out on several occasions I am always amazed by the difference in the Saddleback pigs when a new supply arrives.
Derived from the citrus industry in Brazil this really is a magic product which is fed religiously to all weaners ,growers and finishing Saddleback pigs.
All my show pigs carry on with Citra Prime added to their feed througout the summer show season as I also believe it helps reduce the stress of showing, travelling and it increases the Saddlebacks immune system to fight off any infections. It really works!
Coal Yeat Pedigree Saddleback pigs  winners with the butcher and in the show ring.







Give Saddleback Pigs the Vote - General Election 2010

If only there was no discrimination Saddleback pigs could vote in the forthcoming General Election!  In some ways I am surprised the Labour government that has been tickling with electoral boundaries has not introduced this opportunity for more voters. ( MP’s are poultry enthusiasts – no-one claimed for a pig ark on their expenses only duck huts). Surely Saddleback pigs may have a propensity to vote Labour given such a new opportunity?
Perhaps not, as British Saddleback pigs are very intelligent and would not be seduced by Gordon Browns huffing and puffing, as they do not watch TV but only listen to radio 4!  These ‘bigots’ of Saddleback pigs think that only the Green party may represent the ideals and hopes of their outdoor rural lifestyle. The Welsh pig,this arrogant aggressive white beast with fire blowing from its nostrils ,is a breed bound to vote for Plaid Cymru, even though they have their own parliament in Wales.
Maybe the white Landrace or crossbred commercial pig growing intensively in large commercial units will be the Labour strong holds? Yet how many of those would have ballot papers, as are not most illegal immigrants? Perhaps they all have applied for postal votes? What of the Duroc and Hampshire pigs, immigrants from the USA, I guess they voted for President Obama.
Dare I mention the most recent immigrant trying for asylum in the UK and already adopted by the BPA the Mangalitza. This pig has already got the vote for the EU parliament in their native homelands but not a UK ballot paper yet. The Tamworth tells me that it is totally pissed off by politicians and having experienced and survived the FMD debacle and all the spin put out by the Labour government, it has no confidence in anyone. The Middle White is so conscious of its disfigured snout that it fears ridicule at the polling station, has missed the postal vote deadline and carries the discrimination chip on it’s shoulder. The Large Black is definitely a working class pig with well established Victorian values, a definite Labour vote there.
The British Lop pig, the true old blood white pig - is it still the oldest endangered aristocrat of pigs or has the old blood been diluted with modern breed white pigs? The Show ring has a lot to answer for here, as judges prefer a modern type to a good old fashioned Lop, yet such a delicious porker! A definite Conservative vote there.(Actually, they are fiercely independent and keep their vote firmly in their own camp).
The Berkshire pig, a dark grey pig with 5 white points (or is it 6 or 7) is definitely in the Conservative camp as all Berkshire breeders are such nice folk. That leaves the Gloucester Old Spot, a pig that can never make up its mind and is always awkward and must be with the Liberals for no other reason than that their leader looks so young and has a European wife.
Alas this cannot be as The RPA, Defra or Trading Standards, whoever it is that decides on movement licences and standstill periods has not granted a show field status nor holding numbers for all polling stations, so even pigs with isolation units cannot vote on Thursday 6 May.
But the common consensus is FREEDOM FOR ALL PIGS.
Oops I forgot the Oxford Sandy and Black the only boar pig exhibited at the Great Yorkshire Show with no balls, perhaps related to Ed? Clearly this pig is not yet all there so perhaps is excluded from the electoral register as mentally incapable. 

Or if able to vote will definitely vote for the BNP - to keep out any more imports of foreign pigs.




Time to turn out the British Saddleback Sows

turning out the pigs face pack mud pack

Beauty salon for the Saddlebacks... the mudbath

.........And the saddleback Boars. After 3 weeks without rain the pig paddocks are bone dry so its time to turf the pigs out again. It was so cold and wet in March that I brought in all the Saddleback pigs for a dry in the warmth of the open sheds. Yet the Saddleback sow that farrowed outside in an ark has done a fine job in explaining to her litter that mud is not for playing in until they are old enough. Now the litter, almost ready for weaning at 7 weeks old, are scampering around their half acre field.
The dividing fence is still flattened by the autumnal floods when the pig paddocks were 4 feet under water. Such was the force of the River Crake that the dividing fence was totally uprooted, but the perimeter fence remains intact.
Currently I have 4 litters of piglets running with the Saddleback sows and lots of Saddleback sows and Saddleback gilts looking like farrowing in the next few months.
Now the Saddlebacks are out the weather is bound to change to enable the nicely grass sewn paddocks to return to mud. How the Saddlebacks enjoyed a spring wallow, diving straight into the mudiest wettest area to emerge blackened with mud. The Saddleback mudpack for the most beautiful Saddleback pig ?
It's all go to get the Saddleback pigs sorted out for Newark and Notts show on 8 and 9  May.... see you there - I always need a willing hand if anyone's willing! The young handlers are training their pigs every weekend in readiness.

turning out mudbaths

Probiotics for British Saddleback piglets.

probiotic powder probiotic powder in food probiotic powder in all food bags

To help the beneficial gut flora become well established in young Saddleback piglets probiotics, sourced from Crossgates Bioenergetics, is added to their creep feed. By encouraging the beneficial gut flora all the nasties like ecoli and salmonella can be greatly reduced enabling the small Saddleback piglets to flourish (millions of beneficial bacteria crowd out disease promoting bad bacteria)
I continue to feed these probiotics (a white powder,easily added to their creep feed) until the piglets are well established and growing well (approx 40 kilo live weight). Show pigs, the elite British Saddleback pigs, are fed the probiotics throughout the show season until September. I find this helps to avoid digestive upsets caused by travel and days away at shows, reducing the stress to the Saddleback pigs.
Today Crossgates Bioenergetics are able to add beneficial herd specific remedies(resonances) based on hair test analysis,t herefore enabling even healthier Saddleback pigs. When these probiotics and remedies are fed to the sow pre and post farrowing it ensures that the Saddleback sows colostrum will offer maximum health benefit to the new born piglets,before they are introduced to creep feed.
Beneficial gut bacteria improves and promotes efficient digestion,improving daily weight gain through better food conversion and leads to an enhanced immune system. Happier, healthier Saddleback pigs that are winners in the show ring and with the butchers.
Probiotics form a very important part in the equation "prevention is better than cure" - the basic physiology of my British Saddleback pig keeping.

Weeds for British Saddleback pigs

weed 1 weed 2 white pigs
Flobadop Bill, flobadop Ben says Little Weed, as she is pulled out of the kitchen garden.
5 feed bags of weeds were dug up at the weekend with the help of Harry and Margaret, large feed bag full of soil and greenery.Why save them in bags and load them into the car?
The British Saddleback pigs are awaiting their delivery at the farm, along with some Middle White growing pigs. These weeds, which are mainly grass which have somehow managed to grow through the wet autumn and cold winter, are a delicacy to all the Saddleback pigs.(and the squashed face Middle Whites)
Sods, weeds and grass really do help piglets as I believe there are bacteria, and minerals in the soil which greatly aid little Saddleback pigs digestion and therefore health and growth.
Grass also has an excellent feed value, 1.25 lb of fresh grass has the feed equivalent of 1lb of meal. So when the grass eventually grows this spring all the fresh lawn mowing's will be taken to any Saddleback pigs remaining inside.
Spring has been so late and wet up here in Cumbria that a large pen of British Saddleback dry sows with a pedigree Saddleback boar have had to return to the yards at Bridgefield Farm. The resown field is now showing a green stubble and the beck walls, washed away in the winter floods, have been rebuilt. But not before a visit from the Environment Agency, to check up on possible soil pollution of the River Crake. The officer went away satisfied that all was in order and that any silt pollution was caused by the unprecedented local floods of the autumn/winter, nature at work!
Are we forever to be tormented by officialdom who are bound to respond to complaints by the uneducated public?

pigs eating weeds piglets eating weeds sow eating weeds

Buying a pedigree British Saddleback Pig

For pig-keeping virgins buying a pig is a massive step.The British Saddleback Pig being a recognised Rare Breed Pig offers so much to the new or established pig keeper,it is docile, biddable and will become your friend. In my experience of farming all types of animals a pig is second only to a dog for its ability to absorb affection.
However, with all live stock there is specific terminology which relates to British Saddleback pigs.So here goes, i hope it helps  .......................................

1.  A Saddleback weaner, is a piglet which has just been weaned from sucking the sow, usually 6-8 weeks old (in my opinion NOT a good time to buy a pig as it is very stressful leaving the Saddleback sow with the changes this implies).
2.  A Saddleback Grower, is a strong little blighter that has got over weaning and has established a strong gut flora to manage the creep feed, usually10-14 weeks of age.(This is a good time to buy pigs that should happily live outside during the spring, summer, or autumn). Pedigree British Saddleback growers, registered with the BPA will cost £150-£250, depending on the quality. Pure Bred British Saddleback's, which are not deemed by the breeder to be fit for individual registration, will cost approx £60 to go on to be pork or bacon pigs. These will include mis-marked pigs which may be solid black.
3. A young Saddleback gilt should be an individually registered pig of 4-6 months or even older (possibly up to 12 months old) which has not had the opportunity of the pleasure of the boar. The breeder has decided that these display all the correct British Saddleback traits, have an even underline of a minimum of 12 teats,have a nice set of feet supporting strong elegant female legs,with ears that are lopped not at all pricked. Ideally this Saddleback gilt should be from a litter of 8 or more to carry forward the females fecundity. Saddleback gilts of this age will cost between £250-£300.
4.  A young British Saddleback boar will be as the gilt above but with a fine set of balls and display masculine characteristics.This young boar will usually be untried and not served any gilts.When buying a young boar it is essential to ensure that it has not been kept in isolation away from other pigs. Why, because young boars when first introduced to gilts can become over excited,or if introduced to larger sows can be put off for life by the savagery of the sow. Quality young Saddleback boars will cost between £250-£500 .
5.  A British Saddleback Gilt which has been running with a Saddleback boar,which may have been seen to be served by a pedigree Saddleback boar, BUT CANNOT BE GUARANTEED IN PIG, usually 10-15 months old,will usually cost approx £350-£400.
6. A British Saddleback gilt ,served and showing a lot of bag perhaps 3-4 weeks off farrowing, THEREFORE GUARANTEED IN PIG, will cost £500-£650, as will a pedigree Saddleback sow of proven breeding .
7. A working Saddleback boar which has offspring on the ground is sometimes available and worth his weight in gold.Good breeding British Saddleback Boars are hard to come by and I was fortunate to pick one up from the BPA sale that covered 12 gilts for me. Boars of this ilk range from the killing price of £250-£550 and can go on working until 7or 8 years old if not allowed to get too fat and heavy.
By buying registered British Saddleback pigs from an established breeder you will be sure to obtain pigs of proven quality. Only registered British Saddleback pigs will ensure the continuity and improvement of this most magnificent of pigs. Saddleback's are well known as great mothers, regular breeders, providing the tastiest pork and bacon. They thrive in such a variety of conditions from free range to semi intensive. This last winter, the coldest for several decades, the dry sows and the boar lived outside in their 4 acre field with pig arks for shelter.
Some questions you might ask when buying Saddleback pigs????????
Are the pigs registered with the BPA?
Are the pigs wormed?
Have the pigs been injected with any immunizations?
What are the pigs eating? Will you sell me some food to help them get over the move?
How old are the pigs when were they weaned?
How long have they run with the boar? Is he registered?
Have the pigs run outside?
Do the pigs know what an electric fence is?
Can you show me other pigs that are not for sale perhaps the dam and sire?
How long will i have to keep them before killing them?
What do I need to move the pigs? (A good breeder should have the licence's needed to move the pigs)
Do I need to bring my holding number?
What sort of payment will you accept?
Will the pigs fit in a box on the back seat of my car?
Please think of your own questions as the more you ask the more you will know and usually keepers of British Saddleback pigs are more than happy to share their knowledge. I AM!


Imogen decides on her show pig or a Saddleback gilt chooses Imogen?

imagen on her way imogen getting into the pig shed

Its only fair that Imogen has a go at choosing her show Saddleback pig after Harry had first choice. But a big problem. The most inquisitive, friendly Saddleback gilt which immediately came to sniff Imogens wellies had already been nabbed by Harry!
Imogen is not used to being second best, so pig showing is excellent for her as its teaching her that it is impossible to win every time. So once I had explained all the nuances of a good show Saddleback gilt - tip toes, a bright white saddle and front legs, a nice even underline of a minimum of 12 teats and a maximum of 16 teats, and an overall aesthetically pleasing outlook - the search began in earnest.
After discounting all the Saddleback pigs with balls, a gilt was selected after much tugging of Imogens blonde locks. Yes, I said, you will be able to show that one in the Saddleback gilt January classes at the shows. A large grin came over Imogens face as she asked 'will she win'? 'Only if you spend some time training her by taking her for a walk and talking to her' I replied as I thought to myself she's chosen a little belter again.
We will just have to see, as every year the competition in the young handler classes at the shows gets stiffer as the children become so proficient and professional at showing their pigs.
Yes, we do talk to our pigs up here in the fresh air of Cumbria, but as yet the two Saddleback gilts have not been christened!

descions desicsions its a hard choice

I think I have chosen



Harry chooses his Saddleback pig

steam cleaning harry steam cleaning

With the show season looming and the entries already in for Newark show, Harry my grandson came to the farm to choose his pig. Many of the shows run young handlers classes to encourage children to enjoy the fun of showing. It helps them get used to handling animals while under the pressure of the show ring, learn the disappointment of losing and the pleasure of winning. It gives the children so much self confidence and a young Saddleback pig can often be a good challenge.
Harry spent some time among the January pigs and after initially choosing a nice young Saddleback boar, only to be told that children cannot show boars, a lovely gilt came over to give him a sniff. Obviously the bond was made the gilt chose Harry!
Imogen my grandaughter and the younger of the two, is now eager to come and choose her Saddleback, as both will be out at Cheshire County Show in June.
At last the pressure washer is fixed after being wrecked by the prolonged frosts, so I put Harry to work giving the tractor and some creep feeders a spring clean. Next we have to wash out all the buildings, a major task as all the Saddlebacks need rotating from pen to pen.
The  Saddleback sow which farrowed outside in the warmth of the spring has a fine litter that is growing very well, as the grass greens up around her ark. The first daffodils have opened today, a good 6 weeks later than last year, and a couple of days after the spring equinox. Its a very late spring up here in Cumbria.

harry choosing harry choosing 2


Spring is in the air.

Walking down the field this morning [16/03/2010] the birds were singing,the sun shining and the grass growing. I was en route to visit a Saddleback sow that was left to farrow outside in her ark. 10 piglets greeted me all pulling away at a very contented sows teats, perfect.
Its the first warm morning since early December and I could smell the earth coming to life. The moles are already active as I flattened 5 new mole hills with a firm kick from my right boot.
Only at the weekend have I moved the Saddleback pigs from their winter 4 acre field.The dozen sows together with the changing Saddleback boars have totally churned up the field. A couple of rounds of harrowing soon flattened it and it was totally reseeded with a special pig ley and rolled with a light roller. An unprecedented dry spell of over 3 weeks made this possible but there is still snow on the mountains.
All the fields in the Crake Valley are looking incredibly brown. Only where slurry or muck has been spread is there a slight green tinge. The pastures have been ravaged by the prolonged cold spell lasting from early December to mid March. Interestingly my 140 acres are looking greener, probably due to minimum nitrogen usage and dressing with minerals to balance the soil. Look after the soil,this will feed the roots and the plants will flourish. A scientific approach is needed to analyse the soil to correct imbalances and to encourage clover.
42 pigs are off to Scotland this week - 12 pedigree Saddlebacks for breeding and 30 of mixed sizes for future pedigree Saddleback pork and bacon. The Saddleback pigs are migrating north,following the flocks of flying geese.

ploughing the feild peeping in the ark happy mom and piglets


My health and the Saddleback Pigs health.

Yipee I'm feeling a lot better and managed to do a whole days work with the Saddleback pigs and not be too tired at the end of the day.
My return to health has been greatly assisted by Crossgates Bioenergetics Ltd whom analyze a hair sample and made me a special spray based on their findings. This whole body approach has certainly speeded up my recovery and is heartily recommended to you all.
The Saddleback pigs got a similar treatment, but have you ever tried getting clean hair off a pig? The hair lies so close to the skin and with a wriggling pig to gather sufficient clean unpolluted hair while wearing a pair of plastic gloves is not easy! Every year I send off hair samples from my herd for analysis to Crossgates Bioenergetics to add the results to the Health Pig Nozode which I add to their drinking water on a weekly basis, as I have been doing for the last 10 years.
This is especially good when given to sows daily pre and post farrowing to ensure a rich supply of antibodies in the sows colostrum, which in turn leads to healthy strong litters. This analytical approach to personal and Saddleback pig health is all in aid of a fully charged immune system to fight off infection.
I'm afraid mine must have broken down under the stress of B.A. being unable to fly me to Manchester, dumping me in Heathrow airport on my return from Canada. It's a good job my Saddleback pigs don't fly!

With a new delivery of big bales of straw, a happy whistling pig man, and a new updated nozode from Crossgates Bioenergetics, the Saddleback pigs have a smile on their face again. And what of the funny black pebble? This is charged with the same beneficial energies in the spray, but when in my pocket the pebble gives off remedial energy all day. Pendants are also available as necklaces, if I get a really ill pig, it may have a pendant tied round its neck. Pigs with necklaces - what ever next?

happy spray



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The Farmers Mart magazine has,in its spring issue,run a series of articles on Saddleback Pigs,and my herd is featured.
This is a terrific boost for the breed of Saddleback pigs as the pictures show and may further enhance the popularity of this very special breed.
Guess who is featured in the main double page spread? Yes, SUTCLIFFE THE SADDLEBACK SPECIALIST !

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Who won asked the doctor?

While feeding the Saddleback pigs an excited boar got hold of my hand instead of the feed sack. Unfortunately for me this young Saddleback boar was not old enough to be detusked and one of his tusks got me between the little finger and the next one, right in the fleshy part.
As the hand swelled and the pain increased I booked a visit to my doctor. Just in time by the look on his face as he prescribed a course of strong antibiotics, to be started immediately! 'If it gets any worse go to A&E and they will give you an intravenous drip.'
It just goes to show you cannot be too careful.
On delivering this weeks pigs for the butchers to Aireys my bandaged hand caused much amusement.
However one of the lads said 'It'll go septic, pig bites always do, cover your hands with pure iodine,I do'.My hands were bright yellow last night and the smell of iodine filled the house but my hand is not so sore today.
Who won ?
No one, as the Saddleback boar got his tea and I got a sore hand.
Six litters of Saddleback piglets on the ground and another gilt due any day--its all go in the first day of spring sunshine.

swollen hand

A slim Saddleback Pig is a healthy pig.

Last night on the box was a programme regarding longevity in humans and how this relates to diet, genes and environment. This sent the old brain cells into overdrive in regard to my Saddleback Pigs.
This was further enhanced by watching, with Harry my grandson, recordings of Jimmy's recent adventures on farms round the world. Here he discovered the genetic importance of some brown Masai sheep [a rare breed in those parts] as it had a natural immunity to wire worms in the gut.
How important, therefore, to maintain a large genetic pool of pedigree Saddleback pigs which like other native British breeds of livestock have a long breeding life [if not allowed to get too fat]. Even today we do not know how important pedigree Saddleback pigs may be in the future of pork production, in an attempt to feed the growing worlds population. Their genes are unique.

pig table pig drawing
My oldest breeding Saddleback sow is in pig again and she is now eight and a half years old, and still sound in every way. She goes out every spring and in every autumn and receives no special treatment. She must be carrying the right genes!
And so to my health-at least my breathing is now nearly back to normal,and I am getting stronger every day. But as the Doc says I need time to recuperate from what he describes as a severe illness. At least the Saddleback pigs did not catch it, and I am alive to tell the tale.


PIGS FOR SALE- several Pedigree Saddleback Gilts run with the boar
- Young Pedigree Saddleback Gilts and Boars
- Mature working pedigree Stock Boar
- Young Pedigree sows put back to the boar after weaning their first litter
- In pig Saddleback sows(one litter only)

Please give me a call on 07887731552 or email for more details

I spoke too soon!

winter fields

Oh dear the cough and cold turned into flu- and then the flu to pneumonia. I have been in bed for 10 days and only put my feet on the ground these last four days. Some welcome home. The Saddleback pigs have been somewhat neglected with my son Harvey drafted in to do emergency feeding. I was nearly in tears when i eventually staggered to the farm as the Saddleback pigs were in such a mess, so unlike normality at Bridgefield Farm. But on Stuart's return from France a whole day mucking out soon got the Saddleback pigs ship shape again. With all the floods of November a vital drain had collapsed which took all the clean water away from the farm yard. This caused all the drains to reverse and flooded the Saddleback's pigs yards what a mess yet the young Saddleback's did not seem to mind wading! Their beds were above the high tide mark! This is now fixed by re digging a 4 ins drain and already I can see the benefits as the slurry pit is no longer filling as fast.
Today has been particularly sad as the sow SJT 82C Coal Yeat Rosette has had to be put down as she slipped on the ice did the splits and has not recovered. Also my Octavia Saddleback sow, squashed by the boar at mating has not recovered although given every opportunity to do so, so she was put down today as well. Two of my best breeding Saddleback sows. What a waste but as a local farmer says 'that's farming'. So not everything goes to plan with my Saddleback pigs. On a more positive note we moved 4 gilts to the farrowing pens on monday. The first offspring from the new Saddleback Vicount boar are due on February the first its always so exciting awaiting the first litter off a new boar. I'm hoping for my luck to change as January has not been good to the Saddleback pigs or me. I'm getting stronger every day but am under doctors orders not to work, is feeding the Saddleback pigs work?




Saddleback's like snow - but hate ice. 12 January 2010

While I was away in Canada on the slopes of the Rockies you have in the UK have had more snow! The arctic blast was still evident on my return to Heathrow airport as the shuttle to Manchester was cancelled and Margaret my wife had to drive for 10 hours to collect me from the ensuing chaos. After a 7 hour delay in Calgary airport I was most unhappy with the treatment of my airline BA, who were happy to leave me stranded in Heathrow. To make matters worse I caught the dreaded winter cough and cold, a Canadian or UK strain? But no Swine Flu to bring back for my Saddleback pigs. While I have been away Stuart has had more than his work cut out with this very cold spell. Water for the Saddleback pigs and ice have been the major issues. Although all the water pipes were lagged with insulation and a flow kept trickling through the taps the lowest temperature of -17c froze everything! Do you have any idea how long it takes to water 200 Saddleback pigs and how much water a lactating Saddleback sow needs to drink? Sufficient to say that the thaw has set in on my return and the water is flowing again. PHEW! The first day back on the farm was spent breaking up the 2 inch of ice which was covering the yards. Ice is so potentially dangerous for Saddleback pigs as their trotters are so small in relation to their weight and they easily slip and do the splits. One of our saddleback sows did just that but Stuart tied her back legs together to stop them slipping apart again and with the vets blessing the Saddleback sow is now sound again, but not now visiting the Saddleback boar for another 3 weeks. Everywhere is so slippery even in the fields where the dry Saddleback and Hampshire sows have been hibernating like the bears in Canada. But at last some green grass is emerging from under the blanket of snow. This cold snap has effected pork sales from the 4 butchers I supply as even up here in Cumbria people are reluctant to venture to the shops as the minor roads have been impassable until recently. Aireys the local slaughter house used the salt for curing skins to keep their access open so I was able to take 7 Saddleback pigs to slaughter on Tuesday, the first ones of this new decade. All the young Saddleback gilts running with the boars are looking very well, and a few of these are for sale, so give me a call on 07887731552 to reserve yourself a cracking gilt. I look forward to hearing from you.

pigs with high groundsunbathing pigs

The pigs are enjoying the first sun we have had in a while, the telegraph poles have been put there to help with the ground and pigs arks being washed away with the heavy rainfall.

pigs outsidefrench drains

The scaffolding planks telegraph poles and the french drains, everything's done we are now ready for any more heavy rains