Bridgewater farm works to preserve pig breed
BRIDGEWATER, Va. (WHSV) - A farm in Bridgewater is working to preserve a special kind of pig.
Gloucestershire Old Spots are the longest registered bred pig in the world and almost went extinct.
“In recent past, in the ‘50s there were less than 100. Basically, that was on two farms,” Sharon Kay of Fawn Crossing Farms.
But a program, called the Breeding Circle, helped save the pig from extinction. However, very few pigs were imported from the United Kingdom to the U.S., which led to inbreeding.
In order for them to survive, the pigs need to have diversity in their genetics.
“Once we saw how wonderful these pigs are, we wanted them to thrive, so we did everything we could to try to choose the correct genetics to help get a diversified animal, which when we started, didn’t really exist on the east coast,” Bill Theiss, of Fawn Crossing Farms said.
Theiss and Kay have been working with breeders across the country to place new pigs lines in 20 different farms throughout 12 states to help this breed alive.
Diversifying the genetics has resulted in a fewer number of stillbirths and much healthier offspring.
“We’re getting a little bit of a genetic diversity to move the animal leaps and bounds forward toward sustainability, so that hopefully they can come off the livestock conservancy watch lists,” Kay said.
Theiss and Kay are also hoping to continue educating other farmers and the community about what makes these pigs so special, and why it’s important to keep them around.
“Their gentleness, docility, and their excellent mothering abilities, plus they’re some of the richest, most succulent pork available,” Kay said.
“We mentor other farms the best we can, both in a formal way and in an informal way. All the breeders and people that we’ve sold pigs to, they’ve actually become more like an extended family. We share pig photos back and forth,” Theiss said.
They are currently selling directly to customers by the half or whole.
They hope to soon introduce farmer’s boxes, which would be a way to get locally grown, nutrient dense meats on a monthly basis without having to buy a half or whole.
“It is a direct, one-to-one, you know who we are. You’re welcome to come visit us,” Kay said. “Come see the pigs that will eventually be on your dinner table and have that real connection to the earth, to the animal and then seeing how wonderful the food tastes.”
Copyright 2021 WHSV. All rights reserved.