Year of the Pig

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    Conor Haugh is one of our Education Guides at Airfield, here he tells us all about this new Year of the Pig.

    Happy Chinese New Year!

    For those of you who don’t know, Chinese New Year 2019 falls upon the 5th of February. The Chinese Zodiac recognises a cycle of five elements (Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth) and twelve animal signs, with each new year being attributed its own combination.

    This year we’ll be celebrating the Year of the Earth Pig!

    What better way for us to mark the occasion here in Airfield then by paying tribute to our own porky pals? Our Oxford Sandy and Blacks even have a geological-sounding name (although they earned it for their unique coat colouration rather than any association with the Earth element)!

    The Chinese Zodiac Pig is praised for being social, peaceful, and intelligent. Our swines would certainly agree! Oxford Sandy and Blacks are known for being docile, easily handled, and good-natured. The Oxford Sandy and Black Pig Society describes them as “the ideal pig for the beginner or smallholder” and of “excellent temperament”. They also produce a tasty meat, which keeps our chefs and customers happy.

    In terms of intelligence, pigs are hard to beat in the world of livestock. They can solve challenging puzzles, display emotions, and engage in playful behaviour. This is something that we always try to remember in Airfield, because if our pigs are not sufficiently intellectually stimulated they can become very frustrated. We make sure that our pigs have adequate space and enrichment, and, of course, meeting lots of friendly visitors to the estate helps too!

    It hasn’t all been plain sailing for the Oxford Sandy and Blacks, though. Due to modern preferences for larger, higher-producing pigs, numbers of this heritage breed had decreased almost to the point of extinction as recently as twenty years ago. The trend has reversed slightly since then, with the establishment of the OSB Pig Society and renewed interest from farms such as ourselves.

    Let’s hope that the Year of the Pig will see that trend continue.

    (Next year is the year of the Metal Rat… Hopefully we won’t be sharing examples from here in Airfield with you then!)

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