2011 NEWS





Winter Fair Woes For Saddleback Pigs

Winter FairStafford county showFatstock show

The English Winter Fair held last weekend at the Stafford County Show ground was a strange affair for us first time exhibitors of pigs. Being a Fatstock show I selected pigs that I knew would look good hanging up on the butchers hook.

I exhibited four pairs of pigs, one pair of Hampshire pigs, 2 pairs of Saddleback pigs and a pair of Oxford Sandy and Black pigs, assisted by my two grandchildren Harry and Imogen. So that must make 5 pairs!

Fatstock pig showing was new to us all. No boards and sticks but just a scoop of food to try to keep the pigs together for the judge to evaluate. I thought other exhibitors were joking when they told me of this new way of showing pigs but not so. We eventually finished up with three 4th prize rosettes but outside the prize money in every case. The judge clearly had a different view on the evaluation of these Fatstock pigs than I. But that's showing as the judge is always right on the day.

Imogen and HarryImogen and HarryYoung Handlers competition

Sunday was a completely different day with the children having their young handlers competition. Success at last for 'Team Sutcliffe' with both Imogen and Harry winning their respective age groups and bringing home their red rosettes and prize money. It was very interesting to see experienced young handlers struggling with untrained pigs, going the wrong way round the ring, and even letting their pig leave the ring. They must put in hours of training before the summer shows to have their own pigs behaving so obediently.

The BPA youth programme is going from strength to strength as the pig showing is balanced together with knowledge of pigs, pig stockmanship, and manners. It is training the future generation of pig breeders. Thanks must be heaped on Tracy Bretherton and her helpers for all the voluntary effort they all put into this youth programme.

Next weekend is the last pigkeeping course of the year, with Christmas to look forward too, and the birth of the January show pigs in the New Year.

Saddleback pigsImogen and saddlebacksSaddleback pigs


British Saddleback Breeders Club AGM - another victory for Coal Yeat Saddleback pigs

Saddleback Breeders Club AGMJimmys FarmJohn and Imogen

The last day of summer sunshine greeted the 50 or so club members who attended the AGM at Jimmy's farm near Ipswich. We all sat patiently throughout the meeting which was held in the butchery cutting room, while perched on kids chairs. As Richard the secretary of the club was retiring he was presented with a large wooden pig by the club in gratitude to all his input into the success of the British Saddleback Breeders Club as it has grown under his tenure from 20 members to nearly 300.This reflects the popularity of the Saddleback pig which now is no longer classified as a rare breed by the RBST.

At the end of the meeting was the prize giving of the club's points trophy for the pig accumulating the most points through the entire show season. I was very fortunate to be awarded this prize for my stock boar Coal Yeat Grand Duke, who won the champions of champions prize at Hatfield Show and overall champion at Cheshire County Show together with numerous Saddleback breed championships at smaller shows. What a beautiful trophy a silver sow, of which I will be very proud to admire throughout the winter months.

ImogenPig trophyHarryPig trophy

The prize for the outstanding contribution by a young  person to the Saddleback pig breed was won by Imogen, my granddaughter who has put in so many hours in showing Saddleback pigs around the country, also winning the national under 8 young handler with a Saddleback pig. Harry my grandson was runner up, so a great day again for 'team Sutcliffe'!

There were many points raised by members at the AGM but I feel we must not be driven as a breed by success in the show ring. Only approx 3% of all Saddleback pigs bred in the Coal Yeat herd of pedigree Saddleback pigs are registered as individual animals. Of these individually registered pigs only a few get selected as the very best for the show ring. The rest are eaten as the tastiest pork, bacon, ham or Saddleback sausages. As a breed we are in the delicate position of expansion at the expense of quality as more Saddleback pigs come into the hands of hobby farmers, Saddleback breed standards are not being religiously adhered to.

It is therefore the responsibility of established breeders to assist and help new breeders in the selection of only the best breeding stock for individual registration. As the club chairman Steve Booth pointed out, we are only custodians of the Saddleback pig for future generations to come.

Finally a giant 'thank you' to everyone who has helped the Coal Yeat Herd of pedigree Saddleback pigs through all of the show season. Without your help and encouragement this success would not have been possible.

Saddleback pigsSaddleback pigsSaddleback pigs


Saddleback Gilt Coal Yeat Babble champions Westmorland County Show

Westmorland Show

Phew the showing season is over! How quickly it has passed this year, and what a way to finish.

Coal Yeat Babble champion pig on the day (Saddleback January gilt) - she was also Best Native Breed and Best Female Pig - Coal Yeat Judy champion modern breed pig and champion Hampshire Champion OSAB pig with my stock boar, and best male pig.

A very successful day for the 24 pigs which my team managed to produce for the show ring. But I also took an OSAB sow with a four week old litter of 11 piglets which proved to be the star attraction in the pig tent! The 35 pigs needed four trailers to take them home and four 4x4 vehicles to drag them through the mud. A very big thank you to the Boyren family for their vehicles and support. Stuart was pivotal to getting the correct pig with the correct number into the correct class, and working with the pigs every Monday it’s so good to see the final product winning in the show ring. Spencer and Kasia Fielding travelled up from Hastings for a busman’s holiday to play a vital role in preparing and showing the four breeds of pigs from the Coal Yeat Herd. There were so many hands available, thanks to everyone.

Pig showing is such a friendly group of enthusiasts and a pig show is always such a happy event. One of the main highlights this year has been the emergence of so many children showing pigs so proficiently. My grandchildren - Imogen [8] and Harry [10] - have really enjoyed showing the pigs over the season  and have competed very successfully against experienced showmen. Imogen showed the champion gilt at Hatfield and Westmorland shows, and won the BPA national under 8 young handlers competition. The BPA are to be commended for their establishment of their young people’s club which is advancing the skills of so many youngsters involved in pigkeeping and pig showing.

Westmorland ShowHarry at WestmorlandWestmorland

My pigkeeping courses are helping this cause by sponsoring the BPA youth clubs show banner and will continue to work closely with them in the future. One of the current child stars, Sarah Whitley from Harrogate way, pipped Imogen into second place in the young handlers competition at Westmorland Show. Imogen is now aiming next season to try to emulate Sarah, who won the national under 8 title some years ago. Meanwhile Harry’s performance has improved throughout the year, though it was interesting hearing Imogen telling her elder brother to keep up in the pairs competition!

But why are mature boars excluded from Westmorland County show on the premise of ‘health and safety’? Yet there are classes for boars up to 19 months old. Clearly the person making these decisions is totally misinformed and how can such a decision be made with no experience in such matters? The mixed mature boar class at Hatfield with 9 boars in the ring passed without even an aggressive grunt! Are not the general public missing the opportunity to see such magnificent animals?

Finally a big thank you to the stewards at Westmorland show, who give so much time and effort to ensure such an enjoyable show which attracts breeders from all over the North of England and even Scotland, to what is now the largest one day pig show in the UK.

Harry at Westmorland showImogenImogen showingWestmorlandHarryImogenWestmorland show in tents


Coal Yeat Grand Duke Saddleback Pig of the Year!

Coal Yeat Grand Duke SaddlebackGrand Duke

What a 3 day show it was for the Coal Yeat pedigree Saddleback pigs, down at Hatfield country show. All the Saddleback pigs that won their individual breed championships at shows this season were invited to compete in the Saddleback Champions of Champions final at this show. I had possibly 3 pigs qualify as Coal Yeat Babble, my January gilt, was champion Saddleback pig at Hatfield, Coal Yeat Octavia champion Saddleback at Stafford and Coal Yeat Grand Duke overall champion at Cheshire County Show. (The sow Octavia was left at home as she is suckling her litter.)

Overnight on Saturday the big guns arrived for the final on Sunday, with Andy Greedy bringing a trailer load of champions from several finalists. Sam Samuels was the judge in the final so Imogen, my 8 year old granddaughter, took the Babble gilt in first, followed by myself, with Spencer Fielding bringing up the rear on the Grand Duke boar. We had the ring to ourselves for about 5 minutes before the remaining finalists drifted into the ring.

Clearly this was an excellent tactic as not only was Coal Yeat Grand Duke crowned Saddleback Champion of Champions, but Imogen showed Babble into Reserve Champion. What a coup for the Coal Yeat Herd of pedigree Saddleback pigs both first and second place in this national championship. Admittedly there were some absentees - no John Wreaks and no Will and Amanda - together with some other omissions. But it’s who turns up who wins! Clearly this 3 day show is too long for many exhibitors and can easily be reduced to a national 2 day show to enable more pig exhibitors to compete and reduce their costs.

Imogen was also a star, winning the National BPA young handlers under 8 showing one of Spencer and Kasia Fielding's January Saddleback gilts fresh from their outdoor woods.

Not to be outdone Harry, my ten year old grandson, qualified for the 9/12 year old BPA young handlers final but ran out of enthusiasm in the final as his OSAB gilt took umbrage at having to be shown in the heat of the third days sun. Surely it would be better for the pigs and young handlers not to have the finals as the last event of a 3 day show as everyone, pigs and all, are tired? Something to put right for next year?

However Harry did not come home empty handed as his OSAB gilt Coal Yeat Duchess won a beautiful OSAB society trophy for the best gilt at the show, and he was awarded third prize in the BPA young members poster competition.

We returned home with 4 trophies after a five and a half hour drive with two tired children, seven exhausted pigs and a jubilant driver!
The next Show is Westmorland County show on September the 8th. This is now one of the largest one-day pig shows in the country. There will be 2 pig rings and two judges, but as one is ‘professor’ Alan Rose be prepared for some long classes!
IF anyone wants to come and help I have 24 pigs entered in 4 breeds so a stockman’s ticket awaits all helpers. See you there ?

Oh - nearly forgot! Imogen also won her poster competition for her age group, and the prize? A pink fluffy soft toy pig! Not what a Saddleback breeder needs on the passenger’s seat all the way home!

Hatfield show -ImogenHatfield trophiesHarry receiving prize at Hatfield ShowImogen at HatfieldImogen showingHarry and rosettesHarry and ImogenPig prizeGrand duke


Saddleback and Hampshire pigs just pipped at Anglesey Show

This two day county show on Anglesey Isle was well supported by northern pigkeepers. We trundled the 183 miles from Lowick with ten pigs of three different breeds.

The sunny first day of the show was for the modern breeds so it was the turn of the Hampshire pigs to shine. Imogen's Hampshire gilt finished up reserve overall champion of the day, only beaten by a beautiful July Welsh gilt. The group classes seem to be our speciality this year and we went on to win the overall best modern group with three Hampshire females, and the champion modern mixed pairs with a boar and gilt. Pipped at the post again for the champion pig!

Day two was a very wet and windy affair with our hopes for success lying with the big Saddleback boar Coal Yeat Grand Duke. He went on to win the Saddleback championship. The other major success was Harry's oxford sandy and black gilt Coal Yeat duchess born in late September and competing in the July class. This very naughty pig behaved itself for once and was awarded any other native breed champion - success at last for Harry.

But once again we were pipped for the champion pig by Steve Richardson's middle white boar who beat us recently at the Great Eccleston show, and went on to take the overall champion pig of the two days. Well done Steve and Janice!

This show is very enjoyable for pig exhibitors as the two-day time table gives exhibitors time to view the rest of the show. We are always made to feel very welcome and the generous prize money, especially in the many varied group classes helps offset the travelling and entry costs. It's a fun show and all the children showing the pigs had a great time. Imogen was soaked to her knickers with all the rain but still had a smile on her face!

Hatfield show next - 19-21 August - which will be a trek of over 250 miles. Imogen has qualified for the BPA young handlers final and I have two pigs qualified for the Saddleback champion of champions. See you there?

Imogen at Anglesey ShowAnglesey show prizesanglesey showAnglesey ShowAnglesey Show RosettesAnglesey Show Imogen
Anglesey Show Anglesey Show rosettes and cupAnglesey Show


Great Eccleston Show Success with Coal Yeat Pigs

This 2 day show situated between Preston and Blackpool is always a great show at which to relax after the rigours of the Great Yorkshire Show. Tracy Bretherton and her family Ian and Grace always put so much effort into making it a real family event. A welcoming brew and bacon butty on arrival with the pens ready strawed is an excellent start to any show.

There were approx 40 pigs entered which included the Middle white pig championship for the UK. So there were some really excellent pigs forward for Brian Mulkeen to judge.

Rain, did it rain! When the weather forecast said an autumnal weekend they were totally correct. At one time the tent was 2cm under water but the weather did buck up for the pig showing and we managed to keep dry. The children even managed to have a football game in the evening sun on Saturday. But the rains returned overnight to once again make it a weekend of welly wearing!

But back to the pigs. I was the pen man putting out clean pigs for Harry and Imogen to show. We finished up with the Hampshire, OSAB and Saddleback champion pigs with Coal Yeat Judy (Hampshire) being reserve overall and champion female pig.
The rain did not spoil the show, but I only just managed to pull my 2 tonnes of pigs off the field through the mud.

Next show is Anglesey on 9/10 August. See you there?

Eccleston ShowEccleston Show ImogenEccleston ShowEccleston ShowEccleston Shohw


Imogen wins with Coal Yeat Hampshire and Saddleback pigs at the GYS

What a three day treat at the Great Yorkshire Show with perfect dry coolish weather and a very proud Grandad (me)! Imogen my 8 year old granddaughter has really become a pig showing professional and worked really hard over the first two days of the show.

  • She won reserve overall female with Coal Yeat Judy (Hampshire July Gilt)
  • The Saddleback January gilt class with Coal Yeat Babble
  • Was second in the Saddleback breeding pig class with Coal Yeat Dinah
  • And won the under 10 years old young handlers class with a young O.S.A.B gilt she had not handled before.

On the last day of the show she had to return to school for a rest!

I took 13 pigs to show of 4 different rare breeds Hampshire [rare in the UK although a modern pig], a British Lop sow, British Saddleback and Oxford Sandy and Black pigs.

I believe every pig entered finished up with at least one rosette a major feat at the countries premier 3 day show. At one time we had two breeds in on at the same time in two different rings which was impossible. Two OSAB gilts went into the ring without their numbers so were not judged [the numbers found later having blown of a box].

It is only possible to show so many pigs with lots of help, Kashia and Spencer Fielding who missed out on the closing date to enter their own pigs so volunteered to help with the 3 days showing. Imogen was never out of the ring, and Margeret my wife brought the horse box for accommodation, booze and breakfast bacon buns.

A great show with so many friendly pigkeepers all helping each other, and so much interest in our Pigkeeping courses. A big thanks to everyone stewards, judges,administrators, and my pigs who behaved so well!

Champion Saddleback pigCheshire Show Saddleback rosettes



The 22nd of June was a great day for the Coal Yeat Herd of Pedigree Saddleback pigs. Not only was Coal Yeat Grand Duke 238E selected to be supreme champion pig, but also my 8 year old granddaughter Imogen won the young handlers class.

Altogether this was the most successful show ever for the Sutcliffe family with the OSAB, and Modern breeds championships as well, together with reserve champion for commercial pigs. But we did take 19 pigs of 4 different breeds, as the commercial pigs were pure Welsh destined for the local Cumbrian butchers.

Harry, my grandson, also did very well with a Fourth in the young handlers and a Third with his July Saddleback gilt Coal Yeat Babble, a class of 9 saddleback pigs won while competing against adults, by Imogen with Coal Yeat Dinah.

Cheshire County Show pig section is always such a happy occasion with all exhibitors mucking in and helping each other to prepare, wash and show the wonderful range of traditional and modern pigs. Janice Wood, who organises everyone with such a happy smile on her face, really has to be congratulated for ensuring everything runs so smoothly.

All the Saddleback exhibitors were so delighted that a new exhibitor to the breed, Mr Chesworth, was selected to represent the breed in the pairs and won this interbreed class, repeating this achievement on the second day as well. And who came second on each occasion? None other than myself with a pair of Coal Yeat Hampshire pigs. [I did tell him he was not to beat me!]

All this would not have been possible without help from Carole, Spencer, Kashia, and Andy who, not having any pigs to show, helped by ensuring we went into the ring with the correct numbers for each class - a vital role! Also Margaret my wife, who provided accommodation, food and drink in her horse box and tolerated the pong of the pig people!

A real team Sutcliffe victory.

Meanwhile in the USA the six exported pigs have been liberated from isolation on 20th June and are now on their home farm. Matt and his family are delighted to welcome the six Saddlebacks to their farm after such a long wait.
The next show Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate 12-14 July, England's premier agricultural show. But my champion boar will not be going as there is no class for adult boars, a sad omission in my opinion. How can they claim to be the county’s leading livestock show when excluding such magnificent animals??

I hope to see you there, John

Champion Saddleback pigCheshire Show Saddleback rosettesChampion Saddleback at Cheshire ShowCheshire  ShowImogen winning handlers class at Cheshire showSaddleback winnerCheshire Show winnerCheshire show rosettes and cupsJohn at Cheshire Show



Yes, I have just returned from Stafford County Show with lots of red rosettes, a cup and 3 champion tickets. What an exciting and successful couple of days showing the Saddleback, Hampshire and Oxford Sandy and Black pigs, gaining the breed champion in all three breeds.

Coal Yeat Octavia was the star beating all the other 20 or so Saddleback pigs at the show. This Saddleback Sow born in 2009, who has reared 3 litters and is back in pig, just failed to pull off the overall championship for the best pig at the show.

But, not to be outdone, my new Hampshire boar Burma Golden Eagle qualified for the Great Yorkshire show and went on to be judged the best pig at the show born after 1 July 2010, as well as winning the modern pairs class joined by Coal Yeat Judy, a home-bred Hampshire gilt.

As Harry, my Grandson was sunning himself in Ibiza, I had to show his OSAB September gilt Coal Yeat Duchess, who was awarded the OSAB champion pig.

I was very indebted to all the other pig exhibitors who helped me show and prepare the 9 pigs I took to the show, and especially to Margaret my wife who organised my tack pen and ensured I had the correct number for each class/pig. What a friendly helpful lot pig exhibitors are.

The next outing to a show is Cheshire County Show on 21/22 June which usually has a turnout of 90 or so pigs. See you there?

Coal Yeat Octavia at Stafford ShowSaddleback trophyShow rosettes



What a relief that after 5 months of communications, six Saddleback pigs flew out of Heathrow to Newark, USA.

Initially I had an enquiry for six Saddleback pigs from Matt Whalen whom has a heritage farm in the Utah was very specific in his request for two Saddleback boars by different boar lines and different female lines to four Saddleback gilts.

Due to my running of six different Saddleback boar lines and ten female Saddleback lines you may think this was an easy request to fulfil. But not so as they have to fit in a standard air crate so have to be of specific ages .They needed to be large enough to withstand the journey yet small enough to have sufficient space in the crate.

We selected the pigs several weeks ago and ran these January born pigs together in a special isolation unit. They had to be in isolation for a minimum 60 days before exporting. Tests for all pig diseases had to be taken and an export plane booked.

First we blood tested all the pigs, no problems there, so onto finding a plane.

Only one carrier will take pigs to the USA and they were servicing their wide-bodied jets so the pigs had to wait another month-- growing every day.

Finally with all the paper work double signed by local and state vets the pigs were loaded and delivered to Heathrow airport cargo terminal for 6am on 19th of May (in a trailer specially disinfected and sealed with numbered seals to be inspected and only broken by the receiving vet at Heathrow).

Pheww !!!!!    After all these months and so many different people and authorities involved on both sides of the Atlantic the pigs are now in isolation for 3 weeks in the USA.

These Saddleback pigs from six different female lines and three different boar lines will provide new genetics for the few Saddleback pig breeders in the USA.

This is a proud moment for the Coal Yeat Herd of Pedigree Saddleback pigs as it is the first export of Saddleback pigs to the USA

Saddleback pigsSaddleback pigsPig show



The only pig to beat Coal Yeat Octavia my Saddleback sow was the Saddleback sow which went on to be overall pig champion at Newark and Notts show. The champion  Saddleback sow shown and owned by Kevin and Ken Mathews just pipped my Octavia sow in the breed classes.

I was the pen man at the show ensuring the pigs were perfectly prepared for the show ring. The Saddleback, Hampshire, and Oxford Sandy and Black pigs were paraded round the show ring by Carole, Harry and Imogen.

After starting showing at 9am and not finishing until 4.30pm it was a very tiring day, spoiled by the shows inability to give prize money to small classes of pigs. To show pigs we have to pay entry fees and also pen fees, and have significant costs in transporting the pigs and accommodation. In my case a 4 hour journey from Lowick to Newark.

In my opinion shows must look after their livestock competitors, as animals are still the major attraction at shows large or small. It is unrealistic, therefore to pay fees to shows and not receive prize money for at least the first 3 places in each and every class

One exhibitor of pigs at Newark Show won 8 prize tickets yet got prize money on only one! Such was the bad feeling among pig exhibitors that the viability of future pig classes at Newark show was actively debated.

However we did pre purchase a new Hampshire boar who went on to be the Hampshire pig breed champion, Harry's OSAB gilt was reserve breed champion, and the judge said to Harry that his July Saddleback pig was the best pig in the class but was too small when compared with the Yorkshire giants!

The next show is Stafford on 1/2 June where I’m taking a trailer load again, but with no helpers as the grandchildren are on holiday. See you there?

Saddleback pigsSaddleback pigsPig show




What a fine crop of Saddleback gilts born in 2010. It's going to be very hard to chose the best, perhaps it will be the ones which behave better, moves well, and takes to the children.Yes already Harry and Imogen my grandchildren, and Dylan their friend are starting to train the gilts in preparation for the first show in May (Newark).
Along with the eight Saddleback gilts are two very nice Hampshire gilts of which I have great hopes for the forthcoming show season.

three musketeers
But I cannot keep all the Saddleback gilts so 3 are going up to Scotland, which leaves a few remaining for sale, to good homes only! The children have all grown so much over the winter that new boiler suits have been the order of the day. It's so encouraging to see the childrens enthusiasm for new pigs and a new show season, and the competition between them even as to which Saddleback gilt they click with!
The January Saddleback show pigs thrown outside a few weeks ago are all paddling in the mud, as it rains up here in Cumbria. These are going to be left to nature until May when I will select the best Saddleback gilt and boar for the summer shows.
As the first few days of spring warm up it is comforting to see the first honey bees visiting the spring flowers with their pollen sacs full. Somewhere locally is a queen bee laying eggs for the new honey bees that will fly in late spring.
Meanwhile the pigkeeping courses go from strength to strength as more and more hobby smallholders see the advantages of fattening their own pigs. The pig showing weekend course, a more advanced learning opportunity, is well booked. We will all have the opportunity to learn from Steve Richardson a respected judge, exhibitor, and breeder of traditional British pigs.
There have never been as many pigs in this valley since Victorian times, the majority of which are Saddlebacks with a splattering of micro pigs. Long may this renaissance in pig keeping continue.

walking the new giltstraining the new giltsharry and his gilt



Thumbs up for the dotties and spotties - Rare Breed Oxford Sandy and Black Pigs


spotty piglets spotty piglets

Many years ago I started pigkeeping with a small herd of pedigree Oxford Sandy and Black pigs. At the time they were not recognised as a pedigree rare breed British pig by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust who were policing rare breed pigs. I was instrumental in putting pressure on the RBST to bring the OSAB pigs into their registration schemes.
Unfortunately when I took on the Pig Finishing unit for the RBST in North Lancashire and Cumbria the OSAB pigs had to go, as only pure pedigree rare breeds were acceptable to this scheme. So along came the Saddleback pigs.
However in 2010 I established a new herd of Oxford Sandy and black pigs for my grandchildren Harry and Imogen. Harry showed the July 09 gilt very well and won two breed championships in 2010. Imogens July 09 gilt beat Harry's at Westmorland County Show to take the breed title.
Both these gilts farrowed in September 2010 and their offspring's will be shown again in 2011 at county shows in the Midlands and the North of England.
The Oxford Sandy and Black pig is now recognised as one of the oldest British rare breed pigs and all pedigree offspring's are now birth notified with the British Pig Association before being individually registered if fulfilling the breed standards.
The Oxford Sandy and Black Pig is a docile animal with lop ears covering their eyes. They mature into a substantial size equal to any of the other British rare breed pigs. But in my experience they do not grow as quickly as Saddleback pigs.
However this slowness of growth is more than compensated for by the quality of their pork. Oxford Sandy and Black pork has a unique flavour and texture falling somewhere between Saddleback and Gloucester Old Spot pork. It is simply delicious!
Pedigree Oxford Sandy and Black pigs are usually for sale please call John on 07887731552 for current availability. All the 25 Oxford Sandy and Black pigs are regularly viewed on the pigkeeping courses, along with the Saddlebacks, Hampshire and Lop pigs.


Harry showing a spotty



Sorting the Saddlebacks

pigs in mudpig in field

As I'm off to Canada for 3 weeks, back on the 10th of March, I have sorted out the Saddleback pigs.
All the July Saddleback show gilts have been hived off from the fattening pigs and put in with the weaners to act as surrogate mothers (hot water bottle pigs) keeping the Saddleback weaners warm. I have a good selection to choose from this year and the final selection will be made on the pigkeeping course Showing Weekend on 26/27 March. Only then will they be individually registered with the BPA before entering the first show, Newark.
I have already sold the best Saddleback July boars so what to show will not be the best example. But a sale is a sale and the Saddleback pigs have to earn their keep.
I also have a record number of January Saddleback piglets, with some of the new gilts farrowing down in January. My new immunisation program is certainly paying dividends with more live piglets born with extra vitality. Do you immunise your pigs?
Lots of Saddleback sows have been chucked out into fields of mud to be served by the Saddleback pedigree boar. Only pure pedigree Saddleback pigs are bred in this Coal Yeat Herd.
Even the Saddleback growing pigs have been put out in muddy pig paddocks at Coal Yeat Farm. They are snugly bedded in pig arks in lots of straw so are taking no harm, regardless of the very wet Cumbrian weather. These pig paddocks are being sacrificed for the good of these Saddleback pigs, and ease of management while I'm away.
Johns away the pigs will play!
I'm always available by email but please do not try to call me in Canada.


pigs in mud




National Award for Saddleback Sausage, Puddings and Pies



Dales Traditional Butchers Ltd, the Cumbrian member of the traditional meat marketing scheme have won national awards for their products based on pigs from the Coal Yeat herd of Pedigree Saddleback pigs.

On 19th January 2011, Bolton Reebok Stadium hosted the North West BPEX Regional Roadshow Product Evaluations where Mark Duckworth of Dales Traditional Butchers Ltd, Kirkby Lonsdale collected a trio of champion awards adding to his recent pie success.

The event rewards excellence across twelve categories and saw more than 260 meat products put before the esteemed industry judges. The three products which scooped the top title in their respective categories were:
  • Pork Pie – Traditional Pork Pie Sausage category champion
  • Pork and Haggis Pie – Speciality Cold Eating Pie category champion
  • Black Pudding – Black Pudding category champion
On receiving the awards Mark commented "We’re absolutely thrilled, it is a fantastic result! We’ve always done well with our sausages so probably put a little more effort into the pies this time around – and it paid off.

"We won an award in Britain’s Star Sausage competition last year for our ‘Pork and Haggis Sausage’ and thought it would make for an interesting pie. As the evaluation event was fast approaching we decided to give it a go. In fact we only started making the pie a week before the event but after some trial and error and a test run with the customers we came up with a winning recipe. The pie is now in full scale production and we have high hopes that it will be a big hit with the customers, particularly as Burns Night is just around the corner.

"We have picked up awards for our ‘Pork Pie’ in previous evaluation events but never secured the champion title. On advice from the judges I’ve since changed the flour and we’ve not looked back! It’s got a great filling, tastes good and looks the part too, so I’m thrilled it has been recognised as a champion pie. 

"All of our other products got excellent feedback too, along with a few useful tips that we’ll be looking to implement. We’ve a number of offers planned over the coming months and will be looking to making the most of our award success.

BPEX butchery and product development manager, Keith Fisher, said: “We had a superb turnout at Bolton and the results clearly speak for themselves. The standard of entry was incredible and this is reflected in the number of awards achieved – almost half of which were gold.

"It is fantastic to see so many independent and high street butchers and farm shops represented, with such a wide array of quality products. The feedback from judges is that local butchers continue to raise the bar when it comes to producing fantastic meat products – Dales Traditional Butchers have clearly proven this and we congratulate them on their success.

awardmore awards



These micro pigs are currently being featured on The Lakes programme, broadcast on ITV at 7.30pm every Monday. Many parts of the programme were shot on my farm at Lowick, situated in the beautifull Lake District National Park.
But these pigs are not mine but belong to Rob and Helen who rent the Fold, a recently converted barn on my Bridgefield Farm. Rob has been down sizing pigs by selectively breeding crosses of traditional British pigs, together with small Asian and Caribbean pigs for over 15 years. He now has a unique strain of the aptly named the micro pig, which is available in a multitude of colours.
These micro pigs, are kept well away from my Saddleback and Oxford Sandy and Black pigs.
Micro pigs are mainly purchased as pets. Many live in gardens and some inside peoples houses. These pigs can be trained to be 100% clean, just like a dog. But unlike other domestic pets are subject to the same licensing and movement controls which all UK pigs are subject to.
Like all pigs to a certain extent, after genetics, feeding is the most important. Too much food of too high a protein content will grow a larger fatter pig. This is the same for a micro pig or my larger Saddleback pig. Too much food leads to a fatty carcass which neither the butchers nor their clients like.
Pigs really are easy to keep and enjoy human company.
Just like dogs they love the touch of humans, some even roll over to have their tums tickled. Pigs can be trained and will respond to the verbal human command.
Here on our pig keeping courses we only touch on such possibilities, but we do stress however if you keep pigs you are dealing with an intelligent animal.
We are offering a comprehensive range of monthly pigkeeping courses throught the year. Carole and I look forward to welcoming you to the farm, now of TV fame.
Meanwhile the Saddleback pigs are dropping lots of litters in January, with a dozen sows with litters at foot by four different pedigree Saddleback boars. Not to be out done the O.S.A.B gilts have dropped two litters one sired by a Saddleback boar, the more recent a pure Oxford Sandy and Black litter. Two more O.S.A.B gilts should farrow in the next few weeks to the pedigree boar.
Thank goodness the freezing winter weather has passed by. Lets hope for good as talking to other Saddleback breeders around the UK the winter weather has reaked havoc among large and small breeders alike.
But while recently, skiing in Banff, Canada I could not get away from the pigs as one of the runs is called Saddleback, a black run of course!
A Happy New Year to all pigkeepers old, new and aspiring.

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