Why Farm Rare Breeds

Pheasants’ Hill Farm specialises in rearing and supplying the old, and now rare, breeds of pigs– Tamworth and Gloucester Old Spots as well as Dorking hens, an ancient breed of chicken that was brought to Britain by the Romans.  

The value of good eating

Before the advent of industrialised farming, farmers primarily produced pork for their own family’s and their neighbour’s consumption. What was valued in the breed was good eating and flavour, rather than profitability and yield as it is today. So the old Irish and British livestock breeds were developed selectively over centuries by our farming ancestors to improve their flavour. This historical process of breed improvement for flavour was a balance between old fashioned husbandry and the advances of science.  

 

The importance of balance

Since World War 2, however, this balance has been destroyed. Achieving the highest yield for the lowest cost with the least effort in the quickest time has become the sole preoccupation of most modern pig production. The old fashioned rare breeds of pigs that we rear on our farm are not cheap to produce, nor are they particularly efficient. They take time to grow and mature at their own pace, in the open air, and cannot be hurried or forced, but the depth of flavour in the pork of each individual breed, like their appearance, is unique.