October 2012: Pigkeeping courses stimulate Harry to Saddleback Pig Club honours

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Well it might not be Olympic gold but my grandson, Harry, has made us all very proud by being awarded the British Saddleback Club young person of the year.

To be selected to receive the Essex Saddleback Pig Shield a young person must be adjudged to have made the most impact in promoting the Saddleback breed in the previous 12 months. Not only has Harry competed with his British Saddleback pigs at numerous county and regional pig shows, but he has also become a prominent member of the BPA Junior Pig Club. Part of the competitions the club runs is public speaking and Harry chose to speak to all the public surrounding the show ring about his British Saddleback pigs.

The BPA Junior pig club is doing a fantastic job both educating young members and stimulating their interest in pig keeping especially traditional British Rare Breed Pigs. To further these aims they ran a competition for club members to design 5 Christmas Cards to raise funds for this charitable club. Harry was the designer of one of the chosen designs "Happy Pigmas".

These Christmas Cards, professionally lithographically printed by Park Lane Press, on substantial card, are available in packs of 5 cards together with five 100gsm envelopes for only £3.00 or two packs for £5.00.These are available directly from the BPA (tel 01223 845100 or or Please support this very worthwhile educational charity by buying lots of piggy Christmas Cards.(these cards are printed by the 'greenest' printing method Waterless offset on Card made in Scotland)

Meanwhile Harry continues to help me on the farm with all the Saddleback pigs. We have several new Saddleback litters on the ground and more due in the next few weeks both from the Saddleback and Oxford Sandy and Black herds. And what of Imogen, my granddaughter who was winner of the Essex Saddleback Pig Shield last year? She is quietly content after winning the BPA National 8 and under championship.

Both children are actively involved in the pigkeeping courses, often helping in the kitchen with Coffee and Tea making or giving pig handling demonstrations when time permits. It's amazing how all these diverse activities surrounding pigs gives all the children in the BPA Junior Pig Club so much confidence in life.

At the recent Saddleback Club AGM held in Somerset, hosted by Julian Newth and family, there was a good turn out of members. It seems the club is now back on track after 12 months in the doldrums after the problems in finding a new secretary have been resolved. We had a very entertaining Saturday night playing the local game of skittles. It seems once a winner always a winner as Amanda Thomas just pipped Vaughn Burne to win the skittles prize of £21. (Vaughn had the luck of the Irish with him as he had no idea what he was doing!) Amanda Thomas and Will Edwards went on to be awarded the cup for the pig accumulating the most points during the show season with their Saddleback gilt which won Pig Of The Year at the Gt Yorks Show. Debbie Beeby picked up her medal for winning the Saddleback Club, Champion of Champions at Hatfield with her Rajah boar.

But on leaving I had a puncture, fortunately in Julian's farm yard, so he was on hand with a jack and compressor to offer assistance, as the spare tyre was also flat. So we arrived home five and a half hours later after picking up a trailer load of straw from John Appleton. A lovely sunny dry weekend was had by all.

The moral of this tale, don't rely on professional vehicle servicing to check your spare tyre!


September 2012: New Saddleback Boar Wins Breed Championship at Westmorland Shows

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It was a bit disappointing when the judge selected LOWPARK RAJAH as winner of the Saddleback boar class, placing my COAL YEAT GRAND DUKE in second place. Why? Because Grand Duke the son of my 2011 Champion of Champion boar, has a perfect 16 teat underline with 4 teats on both side in front of his sheath, as well as being well put together. But the judge on the day is always correct as they make the decisions that count! Both are currently working serving the January Saddleback gilts to ensure they farrow in January 2013 (some of these served gilts will shortly be for sale).

But RAJAH well show by Steve Richardson my guest showmaster for the day did go on to win the Saddleback breed championship. I also won the Oxford Sandy and Black and Hampshire breed championship, so had 3 different breeds in the interbreed championship which I eventually won with my very large mature 3 year old Hampshire sow. She dominated the interbreed final with her size, stature and quality being only a week or two from farrowing.

It was a shame that this very wet summer meant that several exhibitors that had entered pigs failed to turn up on the day due to harvesting commitments. The most noticeable were the Mulkeens and Wreaks as their pigs are always the ones to beat. But out of the 26 pigs of 4 different breeds which my team exhibited the one pig that has been aimed at Westmorland County Show was awarded the overall champion pig.

Also on display to the public throughout the show was a Saddleback sow and her 11 piglets, which is always a crowd puller.

Westmorland County Show is the largest collection of pigs in the UK for a one day show. It offers free pens to every exhibitor who show pigs ,good prize money, and individual breed classes. Yet it needs more exhibitors to ensure the continued vitality, so please if you show pigs do pencil us in for next year.

A big thanks to my team of helpers especially Imogen who has matured, although only 9 years old, into a formidable pig handler in the show ring, and to Stuart and Jess who polished, washed and oiled the pigs for us to show. Yes I took the pigs into the ring and showed the champion pig! Who is Jess? A vet student from Liverpool university who has been on a two week placement and she finished off showing a Saddleback July gilt and taking the first prize red rosettes! It may be hard work, thrown in at the deep end, but the students get real hands-on experience which will be with them for life. Well done Jess!


August 2012: Show Week for the Saddleback Pigs

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Two shows in one week is pushing it a bit! Anglesey County show on 14/15 followed by Hatfield show on 17/19 has really inflated the travelling costs with diesel back up to £1.40,almost a 1000 miles in the week!

But what a great week for weather with a fine sunny first day at Anglesey when I was showing my modern Hampshire pigs followed by the hottest weekend of the year at Hatfield.

Not good travelling weather as the air con has failed again in the car, and fewer pigs than entered were taken to Hatfield to make more room in the trailer.

Hatfield Show is the national final for three major pig events: the young Handlers Final, the Young Pig of the Year Final and the Saddleback Club Champion of Champions Final. To qualify for these the pigs or youngsters have to qualify at different county shows throughout the show season. 44 children took part in four different age groups with events taking place over all 3 days.

Imogen my granddaughter took the under eight national title for the second year running although there was stiff competition in all age groups. Harry my grandson did well in the public speaking and had a great time making new friends in the bale den they all made. It was a pleasure to see so many children having a great time while still managing to show their pigs. Imogen successfully won the Saddleback gilt January class with Coat Yeat rosette 271F, a really nice gilt that has been slow to develop but will be perfect for Westmorland County Show on 13th September.

The Mulkeens July gilt GARSFIELD ROSETTE 73 took the Saddleback Championship, and the Champion Rare Breed pig along with the reserve overall prize. This gilt is looking a lot better after losing a bit of weight after the Great Yorks Show. Well done the Mulkeen girls for showing her so very well, and Margaret Mulkeen for orchestrating everything. (Brian was at home looking after his farrowing pigs and missed this family moment of triumph.)

Congratulations to the Beeby's on winning the Saddleback Champion of Champions with their large boar BRYDES RAJAH 32A. There really should be more shows that put on classes for mature boars as these are the gentlemen of the show ring and having been well shown in their youth would not be brought out by their owners if their temperament was not 100%! The paying public love these mature pigs and admire their presence and size. Both the Great Yorkshire Show and Westmorland Show need to re-evaluate their pig schedules for next year and once again include classes for mature boars. Hatfield Show are to be complemented on their inclusion of a mixed mature boar class.

Oh Yes - and my Hampshire January boar COAL YEAT GOLDEN EAGLE won the male section of the National Young Pig of the Year, just to be pipped for the overall title by a gilt. Apparently he was a bit stiff on a back leg after being in a pen/trailer for three days, and two shows in a week. But a great result for my COAL YEAT HERD OF PEDIGREE PIGS.

Six and a half hours in the car on the way home after being stuck in a jam on the M1, but by the time we got to the M6 the temperature had dropped to 22°C!

The next show: Westmorland County on September 13th - a great one day country show with usually 100 pigs forward... If you want to help I need you!!


July 2012

July Saddleback Gilt beats Great Yorks class winner

Harry judging at Great Yorks showGreat Yorkshire judgingGreat Yorkshire dhow

What a turn up when Coal Yeat Rosette 101F, our July 2011 Saddleback gilt, beat the Rosette gilt which won its class at the Great Yorkshire show. Perhaps it was because the Great Eccleston show was blessed with two dry days and the Mulkeen's gilt was a bit tired after 3 days showing in the Yorkshire mud.

As ever the friendly rivalry between Brian Mulkeen and myself continues throughout the entire season and it was only last year that I managed to pip Brian. Unfortunately at the next show I will only be taking my Hampshire pigs as this two day show Angelsey County splits the 2 days between modern and traditional pigs. This is followed a couple of days later by Hatfield pig show which is too close for man and pigs to perform well at both shows with a full trailer load!

But this rivalry is not restricted to us men as now our grandchildren will be doing battle in the Young Handlers Finals at Hatfield. Emily, Brian and Margaret Mukeen's granddaughter, qualified for this 3 day final at Hatfield. She joins Harry, Imogen and also Jack, Harry's friend who has also qualified while showing Rosette 101F.

The youngsters had a great time at Eccleston show and Tracy and Ian Bretherton deserve a massive thank you for all their efforts in making this show the number one on the children's show merry-go-round. Steve Richardson also deserves a muted mention as it was his job to judge the three Oxford Sandy and Black pigs I presented for the children to judge. Not only did the children learn a lot but so did I, as Steve is a staunch 'underline' man.

Judging at Cheshire County ShowGt Yorks pig handling judgesGt Yorks show

As for me I have been asked to judge the pigs at the Chelford rare breed sale on the 28 September, so it was a very good job I was earwigging into Steve's explanation to the children as to the whys and wherefores of pig judging!!

Back at the show my pig managed to get a reserve champion ticket with Coal Yeat Judy, a Hampshire January gilt shown by Imogen, who beat my Hampshire January boar Coal Yeat Golden Eagle into third place!! (Shown by myself, what does that tell you?)

Ohh..... and congratulations to Steve and Janice who won the championship with their Modern white pig, a Landrace I was led to believe, who was quite beautiful on the day, and so very clean......aggggh pipped at the post again.

But my pigs are improving all the time and one of the delights of pig showing is how the pigs change and alter so much from show to show. I live in hope!


July 2012

Saddleback Pig Wins "Pig of the Year" Final at Great Yorks Show

Imogen and Harry at Great Yorks ShowHarry at Great Yorks ShowImogen at Great Yorks Show

The Saddleback gilt bred and shown by Thomas and Edwards trounced all the other beautiful breeds of pig forward in the muddy show ring. Two Saddleback pigs were selected for the final four pigs as the Saddleback July boar from the Gracey's was unlucky not to get the final accolade.

This is a phenomenal achievement as Thomas and Edwards have won this nationwide competition for the third time in the last four years, and there is some Coal Yeat blood running in the veins of their winning pigs! So happy are they with the last boar they purchased from me this year they have invested in a Coal Yeat Walter boar born in July 2011.

This really does show the strength of the Saddleback pig breed as these two pigs walked magnificently through the thick glue of the muddy show ring. When I left for the show I commented to a friend that the wetter and muddier it is, the better it will be for my pigs who are all used to the wet muddy Cumbrian conditions, and I was proved right!

Imogen at Cheshire County ShowImogen at Cheshire County ShowCheshire county show

The Hampshire and Oxford Sandy and Black pigs showed themselves very well and we finished up with lots of red rosettes. Female champion and reserve male champion in the best supported Hampshire pig classes ever seen. Male champion and reserve champion with the OS&B pigs. Once again I was the pen man while Carole, Imogen and Spencer helped with the showing.

Unfortunately I was not well throughout the show and was happy that the show was cancelled so we could all return home a day early.

The pig area, one of the lowest areas of the show field, was a real mud bath with the mud sticking up to three inches thick to everyone's boots! Wellies were the only option. The Great Yorkshire Show organisers need to come to Westmorland County show to see how to cope with wet weather, have they not heard of metal roads in the parking areas, of stone tracks in the wagon parking areas, or indeed of straw in the gateways to car parks? I feel the show did the minimum to ensure a three day event took place and had little or no consideration for all the time and money invested in the show by trade and livestock exhibitors who actually make the show. They really should have done better!

The next show is Great Eccleston on 14/15 July - don't forget your wellies!


June 2012

Free Range Saddlebacks for Pigandco

Pig and Co news itemPig & CoPig & co

It's amazing how one thing can lead to another! Recently while showing the pigs of three different breeds at Cheshire County Show, Mrs Sutcliffe was gadding about buying pork sausage. Can you believe it, a pig farmer's wife buying pork sausages?

Margaret, my long suffering wife who cannot stand the smell of pig muck, had a craving for smelly cheesy pork sausages offered titillatingly on the show stand in the Cheshire Show food hall by Pigandco. These Blackden Blacksticks Blue and Walnut sausages really took her fancy at the free tasting on their prizewinning show stand, so home she came with a full pack of these free range rare breed pork sausages.

These were duly cooked in the top oven of the Aga and served up for dinner, the first time alien sausages have appeared on our kitchen table for ages. Wow, these are totally different, with the strong cheese flavour really hitting home. Too strong for this sausage purist but thoroughly enjoyed by the other half.

Where is this leading to? Well besides buying only a small part of the extensive range of sausages, hams bacon and piggy products offered by Pigandco on their comprehensive web site, Margaret also introduced them to the availability of my finished pigs. Hence they trundled up the M6 and collected a trailer load of free range outdoor-reared Saddleback pigs all around 95 kilo, just ready to be made into the Pigandco tasty range of pork products.

Imogen at Cheshire County ShowImogen at Cheshire County ShowCheshire county show

But what of the success in the show ring? Last years triumph was not to be repeated as Grand Duke, last years show champion, was beaten into second place, the first time he has ever been beaten in a breed class. We won the Saddleback January gilt class but all credit to the Mulkeens who took the Saddleback champion and reserve with their sow and July gilt. I was left to mop up with the breed champion of both the Oxford Sandy and Black and Hampshire breeds. Showing of all the female pigs was done by my grandchildren Imogen and Harry, while I was again the pen man trying to present clean pigs. But the ground in the tent was so damp from previous Cheshire rains the pigs just dug and dug in their earth based pens. Imogen managed to retain her young handlers trophy as overall best young handler of all the age groups. The children really had a full day showing 22 pigs, and evening water fight at 5pm followed by a succulent hog toast donated by Taylor's of Bamber Bridge. We were all so lucky that the two days of Cheshire Show were the sunniest and driest days for weeks.

The next show is the Great Yorkshire Show on 10-12 July... see you there?



2012 NEWS