Riven Rock Farm

Gloucestershire Old Spot Pigs


The Gloucestershire Old Spots are a heritage pig breed known for its distinctive white coat with black spots. The breed was developed in Gloucestershire, England, during the 1800s. The pigs are thrifty, able to make a living from pasture and agricultural by products, such as whey from cheese making, windfall apples in orchards, and the residue from pressing cider. These easy keeping qualities gave Gloucestershire Old Spots the nicknames “cottage pig” and “orchard pig.” British folklore claims the large black spots are bruises caused by the apples falling onto them as they foraged the orchard floors for food.

Old Spots reigned supreme as the pork of choice for discerning palates and in livestock shows through the 1920’s and early 1930’s. The breed became rare after World War II, when the shift to intensive pig production reduced interest in pigs that could thrive out of doors. The remaining population nearly became extinct in the 1960s.

In 1995, Kelmscott Farm Foundation of Lincolnville, Maine, organized an importation of twenty Gloucestershire piglets to reestablish the purebred population in America. A breed society was founded, and the number of animals is increasing. As of 2009, there are about less than 1000 Gloucestershire Old Spots in Great Britain and fewer than 200 breeding animals in the US.

The breed notably benefits from continued support of the British Royal Family who favors pork from these pigs for their table. The pork is marbled, tender and full of flavor. The Gloucestershire Old Spots pig is known for its gentle nature and intelligence. The pigs are white with clearly defined black (not blue) spots. The breed’s maternal skills make it able to raise large litters of piglets on pasture. Its disposition and self -sufficiency make it great choice for raising pastured pigs.

(source: Livestock Conservancy)

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