Britain's favourite pig - the Gloucester Old spot
Gloucester Old Spot pigs are a predominantly white breed with well defined spots. The breed is one of the physically largest pig breeds in England. Their legs are strong and straight and the pigs also have big ears which droop over their faces.
Gloucester Old Spots are both hardy and docile, and are particularly suited to living outdoors throughout the year. Despite their hardy ways Gloucester Old Spots are also easy to handle and quiet and remain very calm and good natured.
Gloucester Old Spot sows are known for large litters and high milk production, and have good mothering qualities. Females have the ability to produce healthy litters twice a year. The males pose little threat to the piglets due the well tempered nature of the breed.
Gloucester Old Spots are a large meaty animal with a broad, deep body and large hams. This leads to a high quality meat, particularly for bacon. The success of the breed has been driven in recent years by the demand for high quality meat by a more discerning British public.
Gloucester Old Spot History
The Gloucester Old Spot, one of the best known of all the British rare breed pig originated in the Berkeley Valley region on the south banks of the river Severn in South-West England. It was originally known as the Orchard Pig, or the Cottagers Pig because they were commonly raised on windfall apples from local orchards and whey from local dairies. Folklore claims the large black spots are bruises caused by the apples falling onto them as they foraged the orchard floors for food. Gloucester Old Spots often lived in gardens and smallholdings and were reared largely as domestic animals.
Gloucester Old Spots have had pedigree status since the early 20th century and are the oldest pedigree spotted pigs in the world. This is much later than pedigree records for cattle, sheep and horses as pigs were thought of as a peasant’s animal.
Due to the intense farming techniques that followed the First World War farmers tried to breed out the spotty animals instead opting for lean and pale high-yielding breeds. Combined with the breeds’ inability to adapt to new indoor pens introduced in the 1930s, by the 1950s this large friendly pig was in grave danger of extinction with less than a hundred in existence.
In a return to more traditional farming methods and keeping livestock outside the Gloucester Old Spot has returned as one of the most popular British breeds and now has a healthy population with at least one Gloucester Old Spot herd in every county of Britain.
We chose to breed Gloucester Old Spot pigs because of their reputation of being a friendly, hardy pig that thrives outdoors all year. We also wanted a breed that is local to the South West of England.
Moonbeams Farm Pedigree Tree
We are aiming to produce a quality pedigree pig that not only has characteristics that are true to the Gloucester Old Spot, but also to produce a pig that has the finest quality meat. With a careful breeding plan and good genetic selection our herd of Gloucester Old Spot are a fine example of the breed resulting in an exquisite end product.