Iron Age Pigs: this boar is no bore
Iron Age pigs are a distinctive looking cross breed first developed for a BBC documentary by none other than Countryfile presenter Adam Henson’s father Joe.
By combining a Tamworth – one of our least diluted British breeds – and a wild boar he produced a pig that had many of the characteristics of early domesticated animals from the Iron Age period.
It is purely a cross meaning it will not consistently breed true if two Iron Age animals are bred together. In fact in many cases the domestic traits disappear entirely in as few as three generations as the wild genetics dominate.
The main benefit of the breed is that you can produce the distinctive gamey pork without the need for a dangerous animal licence – with all the added work that that involves – required for true wild boar.
They can be kept in exactly the same way as other domestic varieties with two or three animals living happily on a suitable half acre of land with a simple ark for shelter. The land is best divided so you can rotate in bad weather to avoid areas becoming too damaged.
Having wild genes they are very tenacious and, even more than other breeds, are well known as escapologists. For this reason your fencing needs to be in excellent order. Good quality, well maintained, stock fencing should do the job but it would be good advice to add a strand or two of barbed wire at low level to discourage them from rooting at the base and disappearing underneath. Piglets are small so present additional problems as they can get through very small gaps.
Iron Age pigs are slower growing than many more modern breeds and tend to be lean and leggy so they can take as long as 18 months to reach slaughter weight with 8-9 months being a minimum. This is worth bearing in mind as boars are sexually active quite early (4-5 months) when other breeds would be due for processing meaning difficult male behaviour will be fully developed well before they are ready for slaughter. Females are generally docile.
They are perfectly happy on standard pig rations and considering their heritage don’t forage or root as much as some breeds. They are quite hairy and this could be the reason that they aren’t so keen on the rain, or indeed wallowing, although you should still provide an area for the latter as they will dip their hind quarters readily. However they do love a good sunbathing session. Generally they are a hardy breed quite capable of living outside all year long.
Iron age piglets can be ginger, black or striped
Piglets, which may be ginger, black or striped (as wild boarlets are) are cute and feisty however, our suggestion would be to buy in weaners at 6-8 weeks to grow on for their well regarded and gamey pork meat.
Many thanks to Kati Dalgleish (@kati_tamworths) for her help with this article
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