Heritage Breed Pigs: Tamworth, Berkshire and Mangalitsa

Reader Contribution by Meg With Modern Roots
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Choose which of these heritage breed pigs is best for you!

Finally, all my pigs/sows are here on the Modern Roots farmstead. Getting the fencing ready, the huts for farrowing, and the specific breeds I wanted all took quite a bit of planning and effort. But they are finally adjusted to their new home and thriving. I love heritage breeds for their ability to mother naturally and fight disease better than the commercial breeds — and they taste so much better too! Therefore, I am raising Tamworths, Berkshires and Mangalitsas.

My Heritage Breed Pigs

Free-Ranging Tamworths

Tamworths – our Tamworth’s name is Tammy – are long, rusty red-colored, lean and athletic. Known for the best bacon in the world, they originate from central England. In this region, there were dense forests of oak and beech trees where the pigs were kept to forage in the autumn and winter. Which is why I wanted this breed, to easily free-range.

The breed takes its name from the village of Tamworth in Staffordshire, England. The Tamworth first entered the states in 1882. The characteristics of the Tamworth reflect the breed’s long-lived selection for life outside. Pigs of this breed were expected to find their own food. Long heads and impressive snouts enable these pigs to be efficient foragers. Long, strong legs and sound feet give Tamworth pigs the ability to walk for considerable distances. Ginger red coats make the pigs adaptable to a variety of climates and protect them from sunburn. When I raised Yorkshires, they would always sunburn unless I had a large mud pit for them to coat themselves in.

Tamworths have an active intelligence, and they are agreeable in disposition. Sows are prolific, able to produce and care for large litters. The piglets are vigorous and often have 100 percent survivability. Super important for the natural way of raising pigs. I want them to farrow on their own not be put in crates away from their piglets. In nature, sows obviously would need to do this on their own and that’s a huge benefit to the heritage purebred breeds.

Curious and Friendly Berkshires

Berkshires originated in Berkshire, England. They are black with some white-dark colored skin to reduce sunburn. Shorter snout, stockier legs, arched back, and strong feet.

Our Berk, Olivia, is quite the character. They are known for being curious and having a great disposition. This couldn’t be more true. I really look forward to breeding Olivia next year as she is so much fun now. She especially likes Mr. Hunky. In fact, tries to climb him like a tree?! Yes, she’s a pig. I know, it’s weird.

In 2008, there were less than 300 breeding Berkshire sows in existence and were considered a vulnerable species. So glad I have one of these beauts. The meat is finely and equally marbled, and prized for its juiciness.

Wooly Mangalitsas

Mangalitsa’s are a Hungarian heritage breed prized for it’s flavor and fat. Originally descended from a wild boar breed it is currently the most sought-after pork in high-end restaurants. Pricing is well into the thousands for one raised hog, making it five times the cost of regular pork. One of the reasons for this is they take about twice as long as regular Yorkshire or cross-bred pigs to raise. Therefore, it takes over a year’s worth of keeping before they are slaughtered.

Just 20 years ago, there were only 198 of these wooly creatures left in existence when a Spanish ham producer started breeding up the numbers. Super pumped I have one.

Mangalitsas are also known as the wooly pig because they have more hair than what we Americans think of a pig having. The hair helps them stay warm and protected in cold climates during winter – hence perfect for Minnesota!

All the heritage breeds I want to raise have not had the “fat” bred out of them. When you breed the fat out … there goes the flavor and great omegas for brain development and maintenance. I am selling 5 of the 7 Mangalitsa piglets I have and am selling them for $275 each. Steal of a deal compared to other states at over $1700 for a 3-month-old!

Feeder piglets were/are very hard to find this year as a disease wiped out many young piglets which would explain the increase in cost for your plain ol’ Yorkshire at about $120.

Read more by Meg about natural homesteading at Meg with Modern Roots. Find new recipes and natural soap and body products by connecting with her on Facebook.

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