The Tamworth pig, also known as the Tam or sandy back pig, is a breed of domestic pig that originated from the United Kingdom. It was first developed in Tamworth, Staffordshire in 1812 after a herd of pigs belonging to Sir Robert Peel was crossbred with pigs known as Irish grazers. It was later refined in Staffordshire and number of other regions including Leicestershire and Warwickshire. It is one of the oldest breeds in the United Kingdom and one of the least interbred, so it is highly similar to forest swine in that area genetically.
The Tamworth pig was officially recognized in 1865 and the herd book was established in 1885. The breed was introduced to the United States by 1882 and later into Canada. Today, there are active breed associations in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada but total population numbers have become critically low in all five countries where it is found.
The Tamworth pig varies in weight depending upon the sex, with boars reaching an average weight between 550 and 820 pounds and sows ranging between 440 and 660 pounds. The breed has a narrow body that reaches a length of up to 55 inches, as well as long legs. The head is elongated and supports erect ears and a rectangular nose. It can range in color from dark red to light red and has thick fur that helps protect it from the sun. Despite this, it can still get sunburn if shade and mud is not provided between the months of June and August in the Northern Hemisphere, when it moults. This breed is known for its good nature and enjoys receiving attention from humans.
The most significant feature of the Tamworth pig is its hardiness and it does well in colder environments where other breeds cannot survive. It is also able to consume vegetation in forested areas or in pastures so it does well on its own. It can be possessive over territory and will sometimes become aggressive towards other livestock. Sows are known to be good mothers, producing litters of six to ten piglets and ensuring each one is nursed.
Because the Tamworth is so genetically distant from modern pig breeds it is often used for crossbreeding, but it also produces lean bacon that makes it popular in the meat industry. This pig is most often sent to slaughter between 25 and 30 weeks of age. Because of its low population numbers, the breed is listed as Vulnerable by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust in the United Kingdom and Threatened in the United States,
Image Caption: Tamworth Pig. Credit: CTPhil/Wikipedia