British Lop Pig Breed
The British Lop is a West Country breed which originated around the Tavistock area either side of the Cornwall/Devon borders.
For most of its history from the early years of the twentieth century, it remained a local breed, undiscovered by farmers outside its native territory. It suited the locality well and was in strong demand there so there was little incentive for breeders to go shouting its merits beyond the far south west.
In those days it was registered and known as the National Long White Lop Eared breed. In the 1960s, the name was changed to today’s British Lop.
At the end of the war in 1945, the UK needed to maximize food production. The 1947 Agricultural act was passed and stated:
"The twin pillars upon which the Governments agricultural policy rests are stability and efficiency."
The government consequently recommended that British pig farmers focused on more commercially viable breeds such as the Large White, the Landrace and the Welsh pig. The British Lop was marginalised, bred only by a handful of farmers in the West Country.
When the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) was established in 1973, the Lop was listed as one of the six rare pig breeds recognised by them. The inclusion of a breed as officially listed as ‘rare’ generally increased interest in all such breeds and indeed the Lop is more populous now than at any time in the last 30-odd years. However, it suffered, in comparison with the other rare breeds of swine, by not looking particularly distinctive. It is, after all, as its earlier name says, a white lop-eared pig and to the non-specialist, could be confused with the Welsh or the Landrace. Instead, enthusiasts flocked to pigs with short snouts, spotted or ginger hogs but not so readily to the pig that looked quite normal.
Why do we need you?
The British Lop Society is actively working to conserve, develop and market the Rare breed Lop Pig as a commercially viable breed. We offer a range of services and resources to owners, breeders and Society members.
We need you to be the voice for this breed nationwide, by creating demand for British Lop pork.
- Ask your local butcher for British Lop pork, bacon and sausages.
- Ask in restaurants for British Lop pork – champion its benefits to chefs, butchers and your friends and family.
- Where available, buy British Lop pork – you won’t regret it!
- Talk to people! If you loved eating British Lop pork, tell your friends.
Butchers, chefs – we need your to help champion this breed!
- Pledge your support for the ‘Love a Lop’ campaign.
- Have only British Lop products on your menu, in your counter.
- Talk to your customers – explain the benefits and encourage them to move to British Lop pork.
- Support your producers – make sure you have a sustainable relationship and that they are finishing pigs as you like.
- Help create the ‘buzz’ that will encourage more consumers to buy British Lop pork and more breeders to breed Lops.
We need you to help create a network of supply across the country.
- Try breeding British Lop pigs if you are a first time breeder, as a commercially viable rare – breed pig.
- Existing producers, market your product to local chefs and butchers – begin to create relationships that will support the breed and create the demand that will justify increase in herd size.
- Attend county shows and show your stock - help raise public awareness of the breed at these occasions.
- Pledge your support to the love a Lop campaign.
What makes a Lop a Lop?
The Lop has a great deal going for it. It is generally docile and easy to manage and is hardy enough for outdoor systems. It grows readily and will finish with a well-muscled, lean carcase at pork or bacon weights. The dams are prolific and make good milky mothers.
- Long thin lop ears that incline forward over the face and touch the end of the nose.
- A large frame and long body.
- A straight level back and straight belly.
- A medium length snout and tapered muzzle that should not be upturned.
- Pure white skin and straight silky hair with no grey markings or wrinkles.
- The British Lop is docile and easily managed.
- Being a white pig, it does not suffer from the commercial bias against coloured pigs.
- The Lop is an excellent mother pig.
- Suitable for both small-scale and extensive commercial systems.
- The pork and bacon from a well-finished Lop is a high quality product that attracts niche market opportunities.
- Unlike some rare breeds, the Lop does not tend to run to excessive fat if poorly managed.