Whithorn farmer breeds rare pigs

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A litter of rare Meishan (Dumbo) piglets have been born in the Galloway, the first in the UK for more than 30 years and the offspring of one of the only three Meishans in the country.

Meishans when fully grown are by far one of the more unusual looking pig breeds in the world, with incredibly wrinkly faces and extra long black ears giving a comical appearance not dissimilar to Dumbo.

Meishans were last seen in the UK over 30 years ago, when 20 pigs were imported from China by a British genetics company for research purposes. In the US and Canada, their ability to produce large litters have led to their use in crossing with both commercial and traditional breeds to increase litter size and add succulence to the meat.

Linda McDonald-Brown, who farms at Rispain, Whithorn, along with her husband, kept traditional pig breeds for more than 10 years, but was looking to move into a more unusual breed that would not only appeal to British smallholders and farmers, but would also be a suitable pig for families to keep as an outdoor pet.

Linda, an author of two pig books, decided to breed the Meishans in 2011, after being introduced to the Chinese breed on a trip to the Netherlands.

Finding that they ticked all the right boxes for succulent meat (their meat is highly prized in Japan where it often appears in top restaurants), docile temperaments and easy breeders, she and her husband Graham decided to bring two sows, along with an unrelated boar, to the UK as foundation stock for the first ever British breeding herd.

Meishans are renowned for being the most prolific breeding pig in the world and can have up to 25 in a litter.

Their unusual appearance and incredibly docile temperaments makes them a hit with everyone who meets them. They are perfect as outdoor pets for families or for smallholders wishing to breed or finish for meat.