All our Pork is outdoor-reared Free Range. We work closely with our Farmers to ensure the animals are fed as naturally as possible – without the use of additives or growth promoters. Every week we have two or three of the breeds listed below available.
At the 1852 Keighley Agricultural Show, pigs belonging to Joseph Tuley, a weaver, were refused entry to the Large White class as they were considered too small; they had been bred by crossing Large White sows with Small White boars. Tuley’s pigs were, however, considered so good that a new breed was created – the Middle White. Although historically a pork pig, nicknamed the London Porker due to its popularity in the capital, we find it also makes delicious cured products. In our opinion, the best breed in terms of flavour and one that we always endeavour to have in stock.
With its distinctive white ‘saddle’ against its black fur, the Saddleback is instantly recognisable. Great for both pork and bacon, the breed is increasingly popular.
Said to be one of the few British breeds (if not the only one) not to have been crossed with Asian pigs in the 18th and 19th Centuries, the Tamworth is a striking golden coloured pig. It reached a peak of popularity in the 1950s but was close to extinction by the 1970s, thankfully numbers are on the increase. The length of the loin lends itself to bacon curing, as does the excellent covering of fat on the loins and hams.
Gloucester Old Spot
Traditionally orchard pigs from the Midlands, the Old Spot was a good farmers pig producing heavy hams and good bacon. In the early 1970s, there were only thirteen registered Gloucester Old Spots, and although still a rare breed, its numbers have happily been on the rise ever since. This is a dual purpose pig, equally good for both pork and bacon. Although at Swaledale we are lovers of fat, this is a breed that can lay down a considerable covering.
Britain’s rarest pig breed, the Lop is instantly recognisable by its large lopped downward pointing ears. The lop is thoroughly hardy and can be reared on stubble, pasture and woodland.
Originating in the New Forest in Hampshire, this breed is characterized by erect ears and a black body with a whitish band around the middle, covering the front legs. Whilst not a rare breed, the Hampshire is a modern pig with many of the desirable traits of a traditional breed, and although fat, is not as fat as the other breeds listed.
The Berkshire was the favourite pig breed of the Nineteenth Century, widely used to improve other British pig breeds. Its popularity since declined and it is now categorised as a rare breed. We rate the Berkshire highly, and in a similar fashion to the Middle White. Although originally a pork pig, the Berkshire makes great bacon and charcuterie.
The only non-native breed we use, a curly coated pig, the Mangalitsa is unrivalled for its Charcuterie prowess. Originating in Hungary, the Mangalitsa is unusual in that it matures very slowly, even in comparison to the other rare breeds. This extra maturity, coupled with the excellent, creamy fat, make the Mangalitsa the king of Charcuterie – it has gained cult status all over the world.