Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs are a heritage breed. The breed began in England and arrived in the US in the early 1900’s. By 1990, the breed was nearly extinct in the US as pork production changed from raising pigs outdoors to indoors. GOS are known as pasture pigs, which means they do well outside foraging. In 1995, a farm in Maine imported 20 GOS piglets in the US in order to grow the breed numbers in our country. They are still on the threatened status on The Livestock Conservancy Priority List.
GOS fit well into our farming philosophy of allowing the animals’ fresh sunshine and grass. We rotate our pigs onto fresh pasture every few weeks, depending on how fast the grass is growing. In winter, we supplement their diet with hay as they wait for the green grass to return in spring. Year round, we supplement their pasture diet with feed that ensures they receive enough protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Many chefs prefer heritage breed pork, such as the meat of GOS. Cook’s Illustrated carried out an experiment on whether heritage breed pork is actually superior. They ordered different types of pork and noticed the heritage pork was “strikingly crimson-colored” compared to supermarket pork. They cooked the different pork and noted the heritage pork was “juicy, smoky, and intensely pork-y—even bacon-like”. A food science professor from Iowa State University explains that color is an indication of quality. The color is a result of pH and heritage breeds have a higher pH, which results in more flavorful meat. We encourage our customers to compare the color of our GOS meat to the grocery store options to appreciate the obvious difference. Once you cook our pork, you may never want to consume supermarket meat again.
We enjoy raising GOS pigs due to their docile nature and fun-loving personalities. To be a part of bringing the pigs off the endangered list is also something we are proud of. The most cost effective way to raise pigs is not raising a heritage breed, but we feel the quality of life of the animal and the quality of meat are well worth the extra time and cost it takes in order to bring heritage pork to the table.