Wessex Saddleback sow – photo by Karen Nicoll

The History of the Wessex Saddleback

The Wessex Saddleback originated from Dorsetshire, England. In England in the mid 1900s the Essex Saddleback and Wessex Saddleback were combined to form the British Saddleback, so sadly the Wessex Saddleback as a unique breed is no longer found in England.

In the early 1900s the Wessex Saddleback was used mainly for bacon production. Its coat colour makes it tolerant of sunburn, and its hardiness and grazing ability make it an efficient meat producer well suited to foraging in extensive free range systems.

Early selection was toward the bacon type, and now the breed is characterized by good length and depth of body.

The characteristic white belt and floppy ears are also strong characteristics of the breed. The breed is known for its very docile nature and good mothering ability.

The disadvantages of the breed are that they do not have the growth rate and early maturing characteristics of the commercial breeds, and the black pigmentation of the skin is not removed by processing.

The Wessex Saddleback was thought to have been first imported into New Zealand in the early 1900s, and was suited to easy-care production systems for the production of bacon.

Worldwide the numbers of Wessex Saddlebacks pigs are low, and they are considered a rare breed in many countries. They are a relatively easy-care pig, and their hardiness and docile nature make them suitable for lifestyle blocks.

Wessex Saddleback boar – photo by Karen Nicoll