Learning about how to look after and rear rare breed pigs is both fun and educational. It was the Telegraph that brought pig keeping courses to the attention of its readers and they have continued to travel to Smallicombe to report on pig courses ever since and of course to have a great time as well.
So how did it all start? Ian started with a small group of cross bred weaners bought to drink surplus milk from the then dairy herd. Any remaining milk excess to requirements was then used to make cheese and clotted cream.
The pig keeping was such a success that after a fairly short space of time, Ian realised the potential for improving his herd and diversified into breeding stock. The first breed to be chosen was the Berkshire which still remains his firm favourite, not only for the meat quality and flavour but also for their temperament. The Berkshires were followed by British Lops and Middle Whites.
The Lops originated from the West Country and are now along with the Middle Whites the rarest of the native British breeds. The Middle White breed has only around 200 sows left in the UK and therefore to sustain this rare breed they remain in the herd.
Maggie is a judge for the BPA, the British Lop society and the Kune Kune Society. Ian has been running pig keeping course for many years and with his long experience of rare breeds looks forward to passing on his knowledge during the courses.
Pig rearing at Smallicombe is based on modern farming guidelines and therefore provides a sustainable meat source for the farmhouse B&B. The guests have the opportunity of enjoying the best bacon they are ever likely to taste along with sausages made from rare breed pork. The sausages have won best sausage at Royal Smithfield and several times at Devon County, quite an accolade for a small scale breeder.