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Wessex Saddleback Pig

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Other common names: Wessex Pig

The basics:
The Wessex Saddleback or Wessex pig is a breed of domestic pig originating in the West Country of England, (Wessex), especially in Wiltshire and the New Forest area of Hampshire.

A Wessex Saddleback breed society was formed in Britain in 1918, but by the middle of the 20th century pig farming was becoming more and more intensive, and the number of Wessex Saddlebacks declined. Meanwhile, the similarly colored, but otherwise rather different Essex Saddleback breed was also seeing fewer numbers, and in 1967, the herd books of the two breeds were merged and the animal was renamed the British Saddleback. However, before this combining of the two breeds, some Wessex Saddlebacks had been exported to other parts of the world, and the breed survives in small numbers in Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere.

Appearance / health:
The Wessex Saddleback is black, with a white band about the forepart of the trunk, extending from one fore-foot over the shoulder to the other, forming a white band resembling a saddle. It is a tall, rangy animal, adapted to foraging in woodland, its traditional use.

Despite their energy and gregarious nature, pigs are sensitive animals. They are easily stressed by travel, vaccinations, extreme temperatures, and new surroundings. Stress makes them susceptible to ailments like pneumonia and bronchitis (due also to their small lungs relative to their size). They are also susceptible to animal viruses like influenza. Pigs commonly suffer from mad itch (or pseudo rabies), dysentery, and parasites (lice, ticks, and ascarid worms).

Healthy pigs have shiny hair, bright eyes, strong appetites, and high energy. Their normal temperature is 102.5F. Deviations from the normal temperature and other signs of poor health including diarrhea and coughing should promptly be brought to the attention of a veterinarian.

Housing / diet:
Pigs are active, curious animals that require room to explore, exercise, and just be their natural energetic selves. Sufficient space, relative to their size and weight, is a primary consideration because pigs that are crowded or confined to small spaces become stressed, and healthy growth and development is hindered.

Although constantly roaming and appreciative of open yards and fresh air, pigs also require a shed or housing that will let them sleep on a dry and clean area at night. Ideal ambient temperatures are 60-70F. Warm shelters with wood chip bedding are a must during cold months; water misters are recommended for the hottest months.

Pig housing should also include a feeder and a drinking water dispenser (usually a water barrel). Access to a water source makes it convenient to clean or hose out the pig shelters (and the pigs) as needed. Chain link fencing, shade trees, and a pond are recommended for backyard habitats.

Pig owners are advised to check with local authorities for legislation regarding the ownership and keeping of pigs in their homes and backyards.

As omnivores that eat plants and animals, pigs will consume almost anything that is edible like fruits, roots, flowers, grass, insects, worms, all types of meat, and even leftover scraps from the dinner table.

Unlike ruminant animals (cattle and goats), pigs have a single stomach. For healthy and fast growth, pigs require a high-energy diet composed of grain (corn, oats, wheat, barley), plus protein and vitamin supplements. Most commercially available feed for pigs combine various farm grains and the necessary supplements to ensure rapid and efficient development.

Pigs are best allowed to self-feed or eat as much as they want during the day to enable them to grow as fast as they normally can. Feeding should always include a good supply of clean, fresh drinking water.