3 July 1998

50-YEAR PIG SUCCESS

Arthur and William Gregory

are hoping to continue a 50-

year record of championship

success at this years show. Heres how painstaking

work before the event has

paid off in the show ring

Arthur and William Gregory

are hoping to continue a 50-

year record of championship

success at this years show. Heres how painstaking

work before the event has

paid off in the show ring

POPLARBURN pigs from the pedigree herd of Arthur and William Gregory have figured in the Great Yorkshire Show catalogue for more than 50 years. This year, they will be seeking to maintain a remarkable record of championship success at Harrogate.

Poplarburn Dainty Girl 116, an August-born Large White gilt, which has already taken inter breed honours at Newark, will be heading the Gregory show team and seeking to emulate her half sister, Dainty Girl 112, last years Royal Show champion. The pig was also winner of the Pig of the Year competition, the final of which is now judged at Harrogate.

Aged 86, Arthur Gregory, Hollins Farm, Burn, near Selby, retains an active interest in the family business. In fact, he bought his first pedigree Large Black pigs in l946 and began showing the following year.

In 1952, Large Whites were introduced and in recent times, a small number of British Lop pigs have been brought into the herd.

With 259 pigs entered in this years show classes, the highest for five years, competition will be fierce. Championship rosettes are not won at the show, but through endless hours of preparation back at home, explains William.

He selects his show pigs in March. They are fed individually on a unit away from the main herd, groomed, and given half an hours exercise each night to train them to walk and present well in the show ring.

Five shows a year, the Newark, Lincoln, Royal Show, Great Yorks and Royal Lancs, are the herds shop window. It is here, over the years, that Poplarburn pigs have earned their reputation for quality and consistency.

More than 85% of pigs born in the 50 sow herd are sold commercially as breeding stock, including 125 boars each year. Many pigs are now bought unseen. William says he would never sell a pig for breeding that he would not retain within his own herd.

Hollins Farm covers 89ha (220 acres) and is cropped with cereals and sugar beet. It also carries a flock of 175 Suffolk and Texel cross breeding ewes, which go to the Charollais ram to produce Easter lambs.

Most of the farms grain is fed to the pigs. New blood lines are introduced into the herd through AI.

William inspects AI boars for the British Pig Association. His breeding strategy is simple: "If I see a boar I think will knit with my pigs, I use him."

Tomorrows champions? William Gregory of Hollins Farm, Burn, shows pigs he hopes will continue his familys 50-year record of show success.