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New pigs (part three)
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The low-slung bellies and extremely early sexual maturity of the Chinese breeds are also characteristic of the related Vietnamese Pot-bellied, a dwarf type that became fashionable in the United Kingdom (and in the United States, imported via Canada) in the 1980s and 1990s as a pet, until it grew rather larger and more demanding than its fond owners had anticipated. Most of those in Britain are of the black, wrinkle-skinned breed known simply as Í, from the Red River delta, but some of the pot-bellies may be spotted or solid white.

Other pot-bellies seen in Britain include the Mong Cai, which comes from the same area as the old Siamese or 'Turkey' (Tonquin) pigs that sailed to England in the eighteenth century.

The miniature Froxfield Pygmy was bred for the laboratories from crosses between the Vietnamese Pot-bellied and the Yucatan.

New pigs (part three)

Vietnamese x Yucatan sow with piglets.

New pigs (part three)

Froxfield Pygmy.

The Mong Cai is white with a black head and black patches elsewhere on the body (often on the rump or as a saddle); it has a white snout and sometimes a white forehead star.

New breeds have also been created for laboratory work, where small size is a useful characteristic. For example, the Froxfield Pygmy was bred in England by crossing the Yucatan Miniature (originally bred at Colorado State University from Yucatan local pigs selected for small size) with the Vietnamese Pot-bellied, resulting in a small, manageable miniature that was initially a coloured or spotted pig but was gradually selected for a white coat.

New pigs (part three)

New pigs (part three)

New pigs (part three)

The little Maori pig, or Kunekune, has replaced the Vietnamese Pot-bellied as a favourite at farm parks and for some smallholders. It often has wattles under the throat and its coat colours, patterns and hair texture vary considerably.

The newest imported breed to catch the eye of British smallholders and owners of pet pigs is the delightful little Kunekune or Maori pig from New Zealand. Its name means 'round and fat' and its origins are obscure. The pigs seem to have a touch of Chinese about them and may have arrived with the Maoris from Polynesia; but it is equally likely that they were of European origin, accompanying early seafarers or settlers. They are small; the adults are about 24—30 (60—76 cm) inches tall and 28-36 inches (70-90 cm) long, and they have small tassels or wattles (known as pire pire) under the jaw. The ears vary from prick to lop. Colours range from cream or ginger to brown or black and spotted, and the coat is either long and curly or short and straight. It is for their nature that they are becoming popular: they are gentle, placid, easy-going, sociable and friendly, and easy enough to keep on grass.

New pigs (part three)

Pennywell Mini pig, bred for its small size and amenable nature as a pet, well suited to being handled by children. The Kunekune features in its ancestry.

A large farm park near Buckfastleigh in Devon has created its own Pennywell breed of pet miniature pigs from a mixture that includes Iron Age and Wild Boar, with a top cross of Kunekune, selecting for small size (a 'pocket-size pig ideal for children and adults to have on their laps'), character, live weight gain, fecundity, food conversion ratio, litter size, temperament and also a wide colour range that produces ginger, brown, black, mixed- spotted, white-spotted and 'Dalmatian'-spotted coats.

New pigs (part three)

The Mangalitza was once widespread in central Europe. A typical lard pig, illustrated here in the late 1930s, it was almost spherical, late to mature and produced only three to seven in a litter, but could cope with hot, dry Hungarian summers and severe winters — it had a thick curly coat. Because of coat similarities, the Lincolnshire Curly Coat was imported by Hungarian pig farmers in the nineteenth century and crossed with the Mangalitza.

Now rare in its native Hungary, the Mangalitza has recently been imported by an English farmer (with a soft spot for the extinct Lincolnshire Curly Coat) who offers pig-keeping courses to smallholders.

New pigs (part three)

Fleecy coat in close-up.

New pigs (part three)

'Swallow- bellied' coat pattern.

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