Animal-lover and pig breeder, Jane Croft describes pigs as ‘Nature’s rotorvators’. “They are incredible at clearing overgrown ground,” she enthuses, “I first kept pigs years and years ago and bred them initially for the meat and to clear rough ground. They clear brambles, nettles and also eat all the roots too. They are perfect to clear land for building or a new plot.”
The trouble was that I would name all the pigs and get really fond of them all so it got harder and harder to send them to the abattoir. I decided to get two of the little pot bellied pigs just to have as pets but the boar eventually grew so big I could actually ride him like a horse! The pig thing just came to a stop and I ended up doing loads of different jobs and travelling the World,” she explains cheerfully. Then a couple of years ago, my Mum was ill and I moved to Essex to look after her. Whilst there thought I’d like to get back into breeding pigs, just as a hobby and wondered about breeding really small pigs as pets. I’ve got 60 here now,” she laughs, “some will leave, some are rescued and I’ve got two that live in the house.”
Jane and her ‘micro pigs’ have been regulars in the Media lately , with celebrity owners including David and Victoria Beckham and our own Gavin and Charlotte, raising the profile of micro pigs as pets. Despite an overwhelming waiting list of hopeful owners, Jane remains adamant her animals come first, insisting, “I won’t sell them to anyone. They are not a fashion accessory and they’re not like cats or dog either ,”she continues, “they’re very intelligent, sensitive creatures and loving homes are essential. They also need to be able to spend time outdoors, Jane continues, “but I don’t have a garden anymore,” she laughs. “I used to have a lovely garden but it’s all fenced off for pigs now. They love to graze and of course it’s natural for them to root around for worms and grubs too. If you like a manicured lawn and flowerbeds, a pig probably isn’t the best pet,” she warns.
“They also love all fruit and veg,” she continues, “ but you have to be careful not to let them have too much soft fruit as it ferments in their stomach. I used to keep a couple of pigs in the orchard, there were a few plum trees there that they would shake to get the fruit. I went out one day and they were all drunk.” She confides cheerfully. “I would love have the time to grow my own veg for them. It would be a win-win situation really wouldn’t it? They would clear the ground and add the fertilizer, then I’d grow the veg to feed back to them.”
As well as numerous TV appearances, media interviews and her pig husbandry, Jane is also writing a couple of books. “I’ve called the first one “Excuse Me There’s a Pig in your Kitchen?” as that’s exactly what my Mother’s carer said when I was there one day, and the second book, which will be out in March, is more of a handbook about How To Care for Your Little Pig. I have raised the profile of these little pigs and I feel responsible for making sure that they are not exploited and are understood and looked after well; I also want both books to be humorous as well as informative,” she explains passionately and after meeting her and listening to her fabulous stories, I don’t think that’ll be a problem.
To find out more about Jane and her micro pigs pop into www.littlepigfarm.co.uk.