Tamworth sow (Photo by Karen Nicoll)
A Rare Breed of British Origin
Tamworth pigs were developed in Staffordshire, England, from around the beginning of the nineteenth century. The breed is regarded as being of a rather primitive type with a long snout and rather pricked ears, and it has been described as possibly the purest representative of the native English pig. Its most distinguishing feature is its unusual golden-red colouring. (There are several theories as to the origin of that colouring – credit is given to variously to the introduction of a red boar from India, from Barbados and from Ireland.)
The breed was well established by the 1870s and its first Herd Book was started in 1885. Around this time a large export trade developed for the breed – particularly to North America, Australia and New Zealand.
By early in the twentieth century there were records of red pigs of the Tamworth type running wild in the Otago area, and there are similar reports from other parts of the country.
Primarily a bacon pig, the Tamworth declined in popularity because of competition from modern breeds – nor is it suitable for the intensive shed-rearing methods of today. At the time of writing this (2002) there were only five registered breeding sows in New Zealand. The Tamworth is a hardy, easy-care breed and ideal for rearing on pasture.
Tamworth sow and piglets
(Photo by Jacky Anderson)