Our Farm Pigs
Wilma and Betty, Oxford Sandy and Black piglets arrived at KTCF at six weeks old in summer 2018 full of squeaks and energy. Named after the two charismatic matriarchs from The Flintstones they have been growing ever since.
Wilma and Betty proved to be an instant hit with staff, volunteers and visitors alike. They came to us at the beginning of our Summer Play Scheme, which meant we could introduce our excited Young Farmers to them, and at the same time get the girls used to human interaction. The kids took 30 minute shifts in pairs in the wallow with the piglets, playing, cuddling and caring for them, and as a consequence the sisters have grown into two pigs that are completely at ease with people. This is precisely what is needed in a city farm environment, particularly with large, heavy animals that have 44 teeth.
As time has gone on, Wilma and Betty have developed quite different personalities.
Betty learnt her name very quickly and responds with excitable grunts and squeaks which sometimes sound aggressive but actually translate to ‘oh my goodness I’m so pleased to see you!’ She will readily drop to the ground like a sack of spuds, expectant of tummy tickles when she hears familiar voices, and also loves to have her face and nose stroked to the point of virtual hypnosis.
Wilma on the other hand is much more indifferent and can take or leave attention. If she is already down doing a bit of sunbathing, then by all means tummy rubs and fuss are fabulous. But if she’s alert and foraging, she’s more likely to just brush past you to the next more interesting smelling thing, pausing only to see if you have anything in your pockets she can pinch. She also tends to be a bit more vocal at feeding times than Betty.
Pigs are very intelligent, and it only took a couple of days for the girls to learn where their wallow is, what times are mealtimes, and who are their softest targets when it comes to cuddles and treats.
You can tell the girls apart in a few different ways:
Wilma’s snout around the nostrils is entirely pink, where Betty’s is black on the top edge.
Wilma has both of her yellow ear tags still in place, but Betty has managed to lose both of hers.
Wilma’s colouring is a slightly stronger ginger. This may change over time.
OSBs are one of the UK’s oldest and more unusual breeds. You can read more about their history and characteristics here:
We still remember and miss the magnificent Margery, a Gloucester Old Spot pig who was with us for quite a few years with her own very distinct character but now we have Betty and Wilma and all their particularities who have made their own special place amongst the animals at KTCF.
Did you know?
The reason pigs enjoy bathing in mud is because it helps to cool them down in warm weather. Contrary to the popular saying ‘sweating like a pig’, pigs have very few sweat glands and therefore cannot sweat. They need the cool muddy water to lower their temperature as it evaporates from their skin. The dry mud then also acts as a sun block and exfoliant when it rubs off any dry skin they may have.
Visit the farm and see Wilma & Betty and find out more fascinating pig facts. We are open seven days a week, 9 to 5pm.
Kentish Town City Farm,
1 Cressfield Close,
off Grafton Road