WESSEX SADDLEBACK PIGS
An application on behalf of the Wessex Saddleback breed of pig in Australia, supported by RBI, was recognized and approved in July 2011 by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity in its Ark of Taste category, and it joined 168 other traditional breeds that are noted for a product of special quality. These include breeds such as Reggiana cattle (Italy), Dominique chicken (USA) and Portland sheep (UK). The Wessex Saddleback, which is identifiable by its black coat and white ‘saddle’ around its girth, is noted for the flavor of its meat, particularly its bacon, which is widely acclaimed by chefs, restaurant diners and by customers at Farmers' Markets. Its bacon was named as "Best Bacon" in The Foodies Guide to Melbourne 2010. The flavour of the meat was described on two visits to Australia by French chef Stephane Reynaud (author of "Pork and Sons") as being "the best he had ever tasted".
Originally derived from the New Forest in the South of England, the Wessex Saddleback evolved as a foraging breed in natural woodland pasture. Its lack of adaptability to intensive farming resulted in its decline and subsequent extinction in its native England. However, pedigree animals were imported to Australia 80 years ago, and it is raised there outdoors all the year round under free range conditions. An Australian herd book was established, and the breed is supported by the Rare Breeds Trust of Australia.