Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, U.S.A.


Critical (Canada) Rare (USA) Critical (UK)

Local Names

Sandy Backs, Tams



The Tamworth is one of the oldest pig breeds.  It is the most direct descendant of the native pig stock of Europe that in turn descended from wild boars. The breed originated in the Midlands of England and takes the name of the town Tamworth in Staffordshire.  It appears, while in Ireland in 1809, Sir Robert Peel was impressed by a breed of pig referred to as the "Irish Grazer". He imported several to his Drayton Manor Estate at Tamworth, about 1812. (Apparently Irish Grazers were imported into the USA and became extinct there in the nineteenth century.) Much of the improvement of the breed took place in Staffordshire and also in the counties of Warwick, Leicester and Northhampton, England. It is unknown whether the improvement was made solely by selection but most experts believe that improvement of the breed could only have been accomplished by crossbreeding.

By the middle of the 19th century the Tamworth was very popular and was being exported widely. In 1865 it was given breed recognition at the English Royal Show and by the 1870s was well established. Export to North America began at about the same time. The first Herd Book was started in England in1885.  Since 1888 large numbers were introduced into Canada.  Most importations to the USA have been from Canada.

In about 1877, Canada received the first Tamworth pigs brought to this continent The pigs which comprised the earliest importations were coarse and unattractive; consequently the breed made indifferent progress at first.  The first Tamworth pigs were admitted to the Dominion Swine Breeders Association Herd Book in 1893, at which time Walter T. Elliot of Hamilton was one of the leading breeders. There was a growing interest beginning in the early 1890’s when importations from England increased.  Although quite correctly classified as a bacon breed, the Tamworth failed to win such wide spread support as that ultimately enjoyed by the Yorkshire. 

The first importation to the United States was in 1882 however the breed never did experience much favour.

In Canada, many farms had a few Tamworths until the 1960’s. Regulations against keeping pigs in barns with dairy cattle, new systems of grading pork and the introduction of confinement rearing systems contributed to the decline of the Tamworth in the last 40 years.

Recent Developments In The Breed 

While white breeds will do better as sows, the colored breeds exhibit better carcass traits.  Farmers who use hogs in a more extensive environment and with other species of livestock – such as on a grazing farm, will benefit from developing a sow herd based at least in part upon the coloured breed. They are hardier and are not so easily milked down to the point where they cannot be bred, and they are easier to feed for condition.  Taste improves with the redness of the meat – a contribution of the coloured species.  A greater emphasis on old-fashioned coloured-breed genetics is probably required for anyone wanting to promote taste in selling pork.  The coloured breeds, including the Tamworth, have an important role to play in developing grazing herds.

Future Of The Breed 

The Tamworth shows good conversion on poor pasture.  They have a natural disease resistance, are hardy, good mothers with lots of milk, produce lean meat and flavoursome bacon. The Tamworth is not directly related to many of the other swine breeds so is ideal for cross breeding.  There is potential for using Tamworth in extensive grazing systems and for the niche marketing of pasture-raised lean meat of superior quality. A concerted effort is required to reestablish and conserve the genetics of this unique breed.  Because of the very limited numbers in Canada and worldwide, a conservation strategy is needed.  It should include:



The Tamworth is a red coloured breed with a long head, prick ears, a straight face and snout, and a long, narrow body. A short or turned up nose is unacceptable. Hair should be long, straight and smooth, curly hair and a course mane are held in disfavour.  They have a long neck and long legs. They are deep-sided hogs and not as wide of back as hogs of the thicker breeds. The ham is muscular and firm, but lacks the size and bulk found in other breeds.  The Tamworth has good bone, strong feet and great hardiness.


Ginger, golden red to dark red. Dark spots in the hair and curly coats are not acceptable


A medium sized pig.  Boars may weigh from 535 – 800 pounds and sows 450 – 650 pounds.

Sows make good mothers: they are attentive in suckling their litters however they may produce smaller litters than commercial breeds.


The Tamworth is a very hardy animal. Its background as the forest pig means that it is ideally suited to outdoor production, even in rough woodland.  A rugged and thrifty animal particularly suited for grazing, salvaging crops or following behind grazing cattle. They are disease resistant and tolerant of temperature extremes.  Their ginger colour protects them from sunburn.      


Primarily a bacon-pig, the Tamworth declined in popularity because of competition from modern breeds as is it not suitable for the intensive confined rearing methods Tamworths were favored the most by bacon curers because of their length and depth of sides, light waste, and their large portion of lean red meat to fat. The Tamworth is highly adaptable and suited to both quality pork and bacon production – particularly in grazing operations.


The Tamworth is one of the most prepotent of the breeds in fixing its type of offspring. There has never been any radical change in the type of the Tamworth, so whatever influence any outside blood may have had has not been extremely marked. It can be said to the credit of the Tamworth breeders that improvement in the breed was made through gradual selection for the kind of hog that would make the most desirable bacon-type carcass. They make an excellent choice for cross-breeding because they are so distantly related to modern breeds.

In Alberta, Art Froman has ten bloodlines. In Ontario the most distant relationship is second cousins. In the UK, Rare Breeds Survival Trust has Tamworth semen banked.  To supplement the bloodlines in the UK, males from the Ranger line were imported from Australia in the last few years.

Pig Semen is available from the following sources:
Deerpark Pedigree Pigs Tel: 028 7938 6287
info@deerpark-pigs.club24.co.uk   www.deerpark-pigs.com


American Livestock Breeds Conservancy

(US) Tamworth Swine Association
621 N CR 850 W
Greencastle, IN 46135
(765) 653-4913
Wendell Brittain

New Zealand

Rare Breeds Conservation Society of New Zealand Incorporated



Rare breeds Trust of Australia www.rbta.org.tamworth.htm


World population is estimated to be less than 4000.


The Tamworth was popular as an “easy keeper” on many Canadian farms up until the mid-20th century. During the period 1913 and 1955 it accounted for about 5 –10% of the pure breed swine population with a peak of popularity in the 1920s and 30’s.  In the mid-1960s however, the population declined rapidly.  Annul registrations since 1970 have been erratic, varying from over 100 to a few dozen.  In the past 5 years (1998-2003) there have been 251 registrations, 112 males and 139 females.

(Alberta 60 males and 87 females; BC 3 males and 2 females; Ontario 49 males and 50 females)

Australia  - Less than 50 registered in 1998. Few distinct bloodlines left.

New Zealand - Five breeding sows

UK - In May 2000, 82 breeders with 70 boars and 270 females.


US Tamworth Association registrations
2001-2003: 214 litters and 1611 head and 275 ownership transfers.
2002-2003: 200 litters and 1906 head and 332 ownership transfers.
Population estimated at less than1000 (ALBC)



British Pig Association, Tamworth Committee, Scotsbridge House, Scots Hill, Rickmansworth, WDF3 3BB, Tel 01923.695295 Fax 01923 695347. E-mail bpa@britishpigs.org

Breeders' Group: Tamworth Breeders Group, Broad Leaze, Boyton, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 0SS. Tel: 01985 850208.


Tamworth Swine Association
621 N CR 850 W
Greencastle, IN 46135
(765) 653-4913
Wendell Brittain


Malcolm Brown, RR1 Inwood, ON NON 1K0, tel. (519) 844-2024
Allan Burns 172 Brooke Valley Road, RR#4 Perth, ON KVH 306, tel. (613) 264-0801 cairnfarm@sympatico.ca
Hubert Earl, RR#3, Addison, ON, K0E 1A0 (613) 924-8755
Art Froman, Box 4251, Ponooka, AB T4JIR6 tel. (403 783-5159
Tom Leslie, Georgetown, (905) 877-4769
Harry & Eleanor Pietersma, RR#2 Iroquois, ON. KOE 1KO, tel. (613) 682-2044
Gordon and Leslie Smith, 1235 Merridale Road, RR#1 Cobble Hill BC. VOR ILO


Australian Agriculture 1993 - 1994. National Farmers Federation. Morescope Publishing,
Briggs, Hilton M. 1969. Modern Breeds of Livestock. Third Edition, MacMillan Company
Briggs, Hilton M. 1983. International Pig Breed Encyclopedia. Elanco Animal Health
Hall, S.J.G. 1989, Breed structures of rare pigs: implications for conservation of the Berkshire, Tamworth, Middle White, Large Black, Gloucester Old Spot, British Saddleback and British Lop. Conservation Biology 3,1-9.
MacEwen, J.W.G., 1941, The Tamworth, in Breeds of Livestock in Canada (reproduced in Genesis Vol. 13, No. 2, 1998)
McFarlane, Annette and Grant, 1996, Pig keeping on a small scale, NSW, Kangaroo Press,
van Der Pol. J. 2001, Today’s hog won’t work outdoors, Graze.  (reproduced in Genesis vol.16, No.3, 2001)
Watson, James A.S. and More, James A. 1937, Agriculture: The science and practice of British farming,. 4th ed rev & enl. Edinburgh, Oliver and Boyd,

Compiled by Louise Livingstone, Ted Lawrence , Liz MacKenzie, Rare Breeds Canada

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