Barlings Rare Breed Pigs is run by husband & wife team Paul & Sarah Ashcroft, each of whom has their own story about their involvement with rare breed pigs!
Paul – My interest in pigs started at the age of thirteen, when I got myself a Saturday job at a local 750-sow indoor pig farm. It seemed an unlikely choice to many, as I am from a family of four generations of plasterers, and the building trade was the obvious choice. Looking back now it was an awful way of keeping animals but the industry was driven by the customer wanting ever-cheaper food, and I knew no better! I worked there for six years in total until the pig industries looked to be going down hill rapidly and so I made my change to poultry.
I rose through the highly competitive ranks to become the Manager of a forty thousand-bird breeder farm and ran it with a small team of staff for seven years. In that time the job changed from being all about livestock and animal husbandry, to being all about paperwork and effectively turned into an egg factory. It was time to get away from intensive farming once and for all.
I left my well paid, seven day a week, on call twenty-four hours a day job along with the tied cottage and went plastering with my dad in 2004.
Sarah and myself moved into Abbey Farm Cottage on her parents' 600-acre arable farm, where I was able to get my livestock fix after a days plastering and at weekends by helping Gill (mother in law) with her herd of pedigree longhorn cattle.
Sarah — Being raised on an arable farm I didn't have much to do with livestock when I was growing up. Horses were my hobby and went on to be my first job when I left collage.
Paul was working at the pig farm when we got together although I didn't visit him at work very often -I didn't like to see the pigs kept indoors all the time in crates and stalls! I was pleased when he changed from pigs to poultry and I went to work with him on the chicken farm as we were married and living in a cottage on site by this time.
After a lot of thought in 2004 we decided we would like to try for a family. That meant leaving the chickens and Paul getting a job with sensible working hours. In December 2004 our first daughter (Eve) was born six weeks premature on Boxing Day.
In 2005 after reading an article in the telegraph, I decided I would like to help the Berkshire pig breed from becoming extinct so top of my birthday list that year was two Berkshire gilts, and that's where this hobby started. With the second (and probably the last) addition to our family (Charlotte) in February 2007, we are now able to concentrate our efforts on producing the best pigs/pork.
Barlings Longhorn herd was established in 1998 by Mrs Gill Thomas (Sarah's Mum.) It originally started with two in calf heifers and now has over 70 Longhorns in total.
The Longhorns can be seen grazing the fields of the old Barlings Abbey site that was founded by the Premonstratensian order in 1154 by a small group of canons that travelled here from Newsham Abbey near Grimsby.
We usually have young halter-trained breeding stock for sale, some of which have been shown and placed at the many agricultural shows in which we have competed over the last four years. Some of our achievements in the show ring have included a reserve breed champion at the Lincolnshire Show 2007, and a breed champion at the Lincolnshire Show, and Heckington Show 2008, as well as many other firsts.
Only stock of the highest standard are offered up for sale as breeding stock, and any animals not making the grade are fattened (on grass) to produce excellent tasting beef which is hung for three weeks before being butchered and vac packed at our local abattoir. Please feel free to contact us to find out when beef will next be available!
- English Longhorn > Cattle
- Berkshire > Pigs
- Saddleback > Pigs
- Welsh > Pigs