Oxford Sandy and Black Pigs


Many years ago I started keeping OSAB pigs which bred true to type but were not accepted by the RBST as pure rare breed British pigs. As I took on the Cumbrian finishing unit for pure rare breed pigs for the scheme instigated and run by the RBST the OSAB pigs were excluded. So they were all sold off and replaced by Saddleback pigs until they were reintroduced into the Coal Yeat Herd in the Summer of 2010,and finally recognised by the RBST in November 2011. What a nonsense to one of the oldest breeds of British rare breed pigs which was so nearly lost to extinction.

I purchased two in pig gilts and an unrelated boar for my two grandchildren Harry and Imogen and a new dynasty was established.

The OSAB is one of the oldest British Rare bred pigs, although its origins are somewhat hazy, it is believed to have originated from the Thames valley around Oxford. The OSAB was popular as a back garden pig in the era when those living in rural areas reared a pig at home as a necessary source of family food (are we returning to those times?). As this pig will eat almost anything in those days it was an essential way of converting the bounty of the autumn into family feed for the winter, probably fattening in the oak forests of England on the acorns.

Today the breed is most admired for its bright metallic, gleaming golden coat, as it is a well haired pig. Slower to mature than other rare breeds this is reflected in the close grain of the very tasty pork.

The OSAB loves being outside and copes very well with most conditions, growing a thick coat of hair in the winter.

I believe the Oxford Sandy and Black to be the most friendly of the British rare breed pigs and are ideal for the first time pigkeeper, novice pigkeeper or as children's pigs.

One of the other main advantages of the OSAB is that it is a relatively lean pig in rare breed pig terms (as no rare breed pig can be expected to compare with modern commercial pigs in growth rate or fat cover). It is not prone to lay down too much fat if it gets a little overfed, but in my experience it does grow more slowly, but 'time equals taste'. The pork is excellent!

One unfortunate aspect of OSAB pigs is that breeders have been selecting for 'aesthetic good looks' rather than establishing a basic 'good pig first' approach. Therefore some OSAB have faults which may be hard to breed out. The Coal Yeat OSAB pigs have been rigorously selected for good bone and strong sound legs as well as breed character. Too much attention has in my opinion been attached to size of blotches or white feet at the expense of the pig. It is my hope to try to remedy these minor faults.

The OSAB remains the most beautiful of British Rare breed pigs. It is docile, friendly and easy to handle, prolific, and an excellent milky mother. Many regard the OSAB as the perfect starter pig. Its combination of manageability and hardiness mean it's a joy to own. It also has a unique high killing out percentage as it is lightly boned with an excellent meat to bone ratio.

This pig, known as the 'plum pudding pig', is a survivor. Numbers are now at a height not seen since early last century and we all enjoy our Coal Yeat OSABs.

Harry says:

"My Duchess OSAB sow is now nearly 3 year old and very mature. She has had 3 litters, her most recent litter contained 11 piglets, but she got mastitis and lost some. The rest are growing very well and are very friendly and tame. I go and play with them as often as I can as they are across the valley at the farm.

I like Oxford sandy and blacks because they are very friendly and as they grow more slowly than other breeds I can have more cuddle time with them when they are small and cute.

In 2011 I showed my own bred gilt Coal Yeat Duchess and won several breed championships and the best female rare breed pig at Anglesey show in Wales. I'm looking forward to her piglets in 2012 and showing my OSAB pigs next show season."





Oxford Sandy & Blacks
OS&B pigs grow together with Saddleback pigs
OS&B with piglets
OS&B sow with pedigree piglets

OS&B piglets sleeping
OS&B piglets fast asleep
Harry wins
Harry wins with Coal Yeat Duchess

Imogen showing OS&B
Imogen shows her OS&B
Harry at Westmorland Show
Harry at Westmorland show 2011

Imogen shows her OS&B
Imogen shows her OS&B while her school pals look on
OS&B champion
Alister OS&B breed Champion pig Westmorland Show 2011

OS&B in the mud
OS&B in the mud
OS&B ready to farrow
OS&B ready to farrow outside

OS&B sow out at grass
OS&B sow out at grass
Harry with a litter of OS&B pigs
Harry with a litter of OS&B pigs

Hardy OS&B piglets
Hardy OS&B piglets
Newly born OS&B piglets
Newly born OS&B piglets get their first milk