Sow much concern over pedigree pork shortage

By Helen Gilbert

- Last updated on GMT

Sty-lish couple: Donna Berry and Donald Shere fear the Oxford Sandy & Black breed could become extinct
Sty-lish couple: Donna Berry and Donald Shere fear the Oxford Sandy & Black breed could become extinct
An award-winning Devon pub is urging its diners to eat pedigree pork in a bid to help prevent rare breeds reared in the area from dying out.

Chef Donna Berry, who co-owns the Swan in Bampton with her husband and fellow chef Paul, claims the Oxford Sandy & Black breed of pig, sometimes referred to as the plum pudding or Oxford Forest pig, has twice reached crisis point in the past when numbers dropped so low that extinction was a “real possibility”.

The couple is now encouraging its patrons to consume rare breeds in a bid to generate money for the porcine industry and help breeding programmes develop.

“Our ethos has always been to provide good food, sourced locally wherever possible, while supporting other businesses in the community too,” Donna said. 
“We’re hoping that by giving our customers more information on the provenance of the meat they are eating, it will help them understand the importance of animal husbandry a bit better and also promote our wonderful suppliers who do such a fabulous job protecting rare breeds.”

Award winning

The pub, which was named an AA Four Star Inn in 2015 and earlier this year lifted the title of Best Trencherman’s Pub 2016, sources its pork from pig breeders Donald and Mary Shere of Oakridge Farm near Bampton.

The farm has a pedigree breeding herd, registered with the British Pig Association and supplies pubs, restaurants, local butchers and The Butchery in London, which runs two shops and butchery classes.

“In 2013, when we moved to Oakridge Farm, the first thing we wanted to do was keep some rare breed pigs,” Donald declared.

“We chose Oxford Sandy and Blacks because they are amongst the oldest British Surviving Rare Breeds and produce superb pork with an amazing flavour of its very own."

Big difference

He added that it was wonderful to think that “our little farm is making a big difference in the conservation of this beautiful pig”.

“Thanks to customers, who, like Paul and Donna and the team at the Swan, appreciate quality, we are able to continue in confidence and keep producing “proper tasty pork​” for all to enjoy,” he said.

Earlier this year (February), meat experts revealed home-grown pork could disappear from British menus​ if the trade doesn't stop buying imports.

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