Tamworth Pigs - about the breed

The Tamworth is among the oldest of porcine breeds but as with many older breeds of livestock it is not well suited to modern production methods and is listed as "Threatened" in the U.S. and "Vulnerable" in the UK by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust as there are less than 300 registered breeding females.  Tamworths are of ginger to red colouration and is thought to have descended from wild boars, via native pig stock of Europe. Principal populations today are in the United Kingdom, Australia, USA, New Zealand and Canada. Alternate names for this animal are Sandy Back and Tam.

The breed exhibits an elongated head shape and a long narrow body. The ears are erect and pointed, while the face has rectilinear lines as well as the snout. Colours range from a pale gingery to dark mahogany red. Early in the breed history, colours were red and black, but breeding has been conducted to remove the black colouration. The bristle density protects their skin from ultraviolet harm from the sun; nevertheless, when they moult between June and August (in the northern hemisphere), shade is sought along with copious mud coating to prevent sunburn.

Tamworths are considered a medium sized porcine breed, with a full grown boar ranging from 250 to 370 kilograms and the mature sow from 200 to 300 kilograms. The adult length ranges from 1.0 to 1.4 metres and heights of about 50 to 65 centimetres are common. The curled adult tail is about 24 to 30 centimetres long. This animal is characterised by having a neck and legs that are long, and by deep sides, but narrow backs. They have ham structures that are quite muscular and un-flaccid. The breed is also known for having excellent foot structure and a good skeletal system. Litter sizes are typically somewhat smaller than commercial breeds. Unacceptable features according to breed aficionados are: curly hair, coarse mane, turned up nose, and dark spots on the coat.

The most salient feature of the Tamworth is its great hardiness with respect to adverse climates. Thus the breed does well in its more northerly settings such as Scotland and Canada, where winters are severe, not only in regard to cold but also high winds. The animal is not only durable and rugged, but is extremely well suited for forest grazing. The Tamworth graze compatibly with cattle, being able to retrieve forage that cattle leave behind in the open pasture. This animal is very efficient at excavation while rooting for food in the forest or pasture. The breed is used in forage-based farming systems. The sows demonstrate good maternal skills, being consistent in suckling all littermates. Litters normally range in size from six to ten piglets. The Tamworth displays a good disposition and enjoys the attention of humans.

History of the Breed:
Originating in England, the breed name derives from the town of Tamworth in Staffordshire. Sir Robert Peel of Tamworth brought in some stock from Ireland called Irish Grazers in the year 1809 to begin cross-breeding with his Tamworth stock. This herd, further improved and altered in the English Midlands during the early 19th century is thought to be the origin of Tamworths. From the time of Sir Robert's efforts, the breed has been kept quite separate from others and thus is thought to be one of the purest swine breeds. 
In the year 1865 Tamworths realized English breed recognition and in 1885 the herd book was started. Tamworths were imported into the United States by Thomas Bennett of Rossville, Illinois, in 1882. Soon they entered Canada, where a population now exists. Breed Associations for Tamworth Swine are active in the UK, USA, and Canada; however, they are considered a minor breed. From 1913 to mid century the breed reached peak numbers in Canada, reaching up to ten percent of the total swine population. In Australia the breed reached peak numbers of about 1000 in the mid 1900s. Modern herd numbers have reached critically small numbers in each of the five recognised countries holding these animals.  

More information can be found at the website of the Tamworth Breeders Club