Although in its present form the Tamworth as we know it today is a very distinctive pig with long legs, prick ears with a pure red or ginger coat this has not always been the case. Around 1800 it was said to be much smaller with shorter legs and ears that were far less prominent. As far as colour was concerned it was described as "spotted red and brown.
Old pictures of the Tamworth show it to have been anything from white or pale ginger with black spots to a ‘red and black’ pig. It closely resembled the picture painted by Low of the old ‘Berkshire’ and it was not a million miles away from the current requirements of the ‘Oxford Sandy & Black’.
The Tamworth is one of the great ‘dual purpose’ pigs producing stunningly good pork as well as equally tremendous bacon. In the mid 1990’s the Tamworth came top in a taste test carried out by Bristol University using both commercial and rare breed pigs in a scientifically controlled experiment. It was later suggested that further investigation should take place to establish just what it was that gave the Tamworth meat such a distinctive taste putting it way above all the other breeds.
Although sometimes referred to as ‘boisterous’ this should not be interpreted as being ‘nasty’ or difficult to handle. It is a big pig that is full of life and who could ever expect the ‘aristocrat’ of the pig world to be anything other than full of life. A loving, talkative pig that is really a gentle giant.
One of the longest snouted pigs it is of great use to the organic gardener or anyone who has a piece of rough overgrown land that needs clearing. The Tamworth could certainly earn its keep as a professional rotavator. In the mid 1800’s it is clear from all the records that the ‘Berkshire’ and 'Tam worth' were closely linked and in view of the association between the ‘Oxford Sandy & Black’ and the ‘Berkshire’ who is to say that all three are not in some way connected.