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Coloured pigs (part two)

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Coloured pigs (part three)
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In the early 1970s Joe Henson of the Cotswold Farm Park, the co- founder of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, crossed a Wild Boar with a Tamworth sow for the sake of a group of archaeologists wanting livestock for a reconstructed Iron Age village. The resulting piglets were striped, like those of the Wild Boar, and Henson continued to breed his Iron Age hybrids, selecting for the darkest and most docile ones.

The colour of the old Berkshires and Tamworths is reflected today in the Oxford Sandy and Black (OSB), a breed with a chequered and sometimes disputed history. It might have derived originally from an old Oxford Dairy pig crossed by the Marquess of Blandford with his black Neapolitan boar and a later cross with Essex blacks to create the Improved Oxford.

Coloured pigs (part three)

The 'Iron Age' hybrid is a cross between Wild Boar and Tamworth. The piglets are born with wild-type stripes.

The cottager's 'plum pudding' black-and-white spotted Oxford was possibly from the Tamworth crossed with the Neapolitan. As there were assorted spotted pigs all over the Midlands in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the ОSB might have developed from any of them. As a breed it seems to have become extinct, or nearly extinct, at least twice, most recently in the 1960s. Unfortunately, it is easy to produce a litter of piglets with ОSB colouring simply by crossing Berkshire and Tamworth with each other or with other breeds (and quite a few farm parks like to experiment with such crosses for the joy of the multi-coloured piglets that result), but usually such offspring have prick ears: the genuine ОSB does not, and the original breed also had a white 'tapir' stripe or face blaze.
The OSB, with its attractive red coat blotched with black, is now rare but rapidly increasing. It is a good-natured and hardy pig, producing good meat as a purebred and also crossing well with commercial whites.

Another pig that originated from the Tamworth, probably crossed with Berkshire and Gloucestershire Old Spots, was the very pretty and well- named Dorset Gold Tip. By 1955, however, there was only one registered boar, and the breed soon became extinct.

Coloured pigs (part three)

Coloured pigs (part three)

Original Oxford Sandy and Black photographed on Norman Boseley's farm at Sarsden Lodge in 1959, showing ear carriage and white stripe. In 1881 Joseph Harris referred only to an 'Improved Oxfordshire' mentioned by Sidney in 1850, scarce even then and jet black all over, based on crossbreeding Berkshire and Improved Essex. But a sandy- coloured old Oxford, 'approaching the Tamworth type, though not of that breed', was mentioned in the 1940s as having existed in the county 'until recent times'.

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