Developed in England, the Gloucestershire Old Spot is a threatened British breed. Nicknamed “orchard pig”, these white pigs with big black spots were developed on fruit orchards, where they gorged themselves on fallen fruit and other treats. Their backyard grazing lifestyles led to the development of their oversized floppy ears, which protect their eyes during foraging and enhance their sense of smell. While this makes the Old Spot excellent foragers the negative impact on their peripheral vision causes the breed to be especially dependent on humans for protection from predators.
Old Spots became rare after World War II, when the shift to intensive pig production reduced interest in outdoor pigs. The breed almost became extinct in the 1960s but is experiencing a renaissance. Their lazy and gluttonous lifestyle yields pork that is fatty, delicious and succulent.
Cranky Carls Farm, added Old Spots to our herd 2017. Our first litters are expected Nov 2017
The Old Spot pigs are VERY VERY gentle, calm and so easy to love, They make excellent mothers, graze and benefit from living on grass, hay and other legumes. They are docile, and boars can live together in many cases.
They love to be loved and will often come and lay in your lap.
The Gloucestershire Old Spots Breed Society was formed in 1913. The originators of that society called the breed ‘Old’ Spots because the pig had been known for as long as anyone could remember. The first pedigree records of pigs in the UK began in 1885, much later than they did for cattle, sheep and horses because the pig was a peasant’s animal, a scavenger, and was never highly regarded.
No other pedigree spotted breed was recorded before 1913, so today’s GOS is the oldest such breed in the world!
The breed originated around the Berkeley Vale on the southern shores of the river Severn in south west England (click here for more detail Map showing Foundation herds with Boars). It was usually kept in the cider and perry pear orchards of the area and on the dairy farms. Windfall fruit and waste from the dairies supplemented its grazing habit. Local folklore says that the spots on its back are bruises from the falling fruit. Besides its correct title and variations such as Gloster Spot or just Old Spot, the breed is also known as The Orchard Pig and The Cottager’s Pig.
Little is recorded of the breed’s development but Victorian writers such as William Youatt in ‘The Pig’ and HD Richardson in ‘The Pig – Its Origins and Varieties’ seem to conclude that it was derived from crossing the original Gloucestershire pig – a large, off-white variety with wattles hanging from its neck, with the unimproved Berkshire, a sandy-coloured prick-eared pig with spots. This is reinforced in William Marshall’s ‘The Rural Economy of Gloucestershire’ ca.1780 and ‘The Complete Grazier’ by a Lincolnshire Grazier of 1816, among others.