Adam Henson's animals: Glamrock pigs

What are Glamrock pigs? Farmer and Countryfile presenter Adam Henson heads to a family farm in the Cotswolds and discovers that this new breed is as rocking as it sounds

2nd July 2018
Glamrock piglets

If you were a music-mad teenager in the 1970s, glam rock meant glittery jumpsuits, platform shoes and massive hair-dos. Think David Bowie, Marc Bolan and The Sweet.

But for the Righton family who farm in the north Cotswolds, Glamrock is something completely different. Simon and Sarah Righton have adopted the clever, eye-catching name to describe their herd of cross-bred pigs. 

Farmer and Countryfile presenter Adam Henson
Farmer and Countryfile presenter Adam Henson ©Sean Malyon

Why Glamrock? Well, because the coloured piglets are the offspring of a Gloucestershire Old Spots sow and a Hamrock boar (Hamrocks are half Hampshire and half Duroc). I don’t know which came first, the name or the plans to cross breed, but either way it’s a catchy tag.  

Publicity rocks

Simon and Sarah are the third generation of Rightons to work the land in the hamlet of Dorn near Moreton-in-Marsh, rearing livestock as well as growing cereals and running a farm shop, B&B and camping site. They moved in to their farmhouse back in 2002 and quickly established themselves as enterprising professionals with tonnes of energy and a knack for attracting positive publicity. Such as the time Chris Evans mentioned pig-keeping on his Radio 2 Breakfast Show – Sarah picked up the phone and within minutes was on air telling millions of Chris’s listeners about her Glamrocks

Glamrock pigs
Glamrock pigs are half Gloucestershire Old Spots, quarter Hampshire and quarter Duroc ©Simon and Sarah Righton
Hogging the limelight

If the Rightons’ story rings a bell with you, it’s no surprise. They opened up their farm to the BBC and welcomed in the TV cameras when they were the host family for Nigel and Adam’s Farm Kitchen, a four-part series about food and farming that I presented with the cook and columnist Nigel Slater. Not only did the programme feature the whole Righton family and every part of the farm but it also introduced a cheeky little Glamrock pig to a national TV audience. We reared her alongside a modern commercial pig and a traditional Tamworth ‘baconer’ to see how each breed grew and to show the differences in the amount of fat they produced. After several months, the Glamrock turned out to be much leaner than a Tamworth but slightly more fatty than the commercial pig. So the science backed up the Rightons’ intention to rear an animal with all the qualities of a Gloucestershire Old Spot but with less fat.

Gloucestershire Old Spot pig
The Righton family bred a Gloucestershire Old Spot sow and a Hamrock boar to give Glamrock offspring ©Getty

But our experiment in the pig sty wasn’t the first time the porkers at Old Farm have hogged the limelight. A couple of years earlier I had filmed Sarah and a litter of her wriggly Glamrock piglets for Countryfile. It was when pork producers were having a tough time (many still are) and Sarah explained how her cross-breeds were helping the family to buck the national trend; creating a market for their sausages, bacon and joints was a way of making pigs financially viable. And it was those sausages that brought the Glamrock story full circle when they were sampled by the greatest glam rocker of them all. At the regional finals of the best British banger competition, the Rightons’ star sausages were a hit with Slade’s lead singer, the one and only Noddy Holder. How’s that for spotting a success and adding a little extra sizzle?    

Cotswolds landscape
The Righton family rear their pigs in the north Cotswolds ©Getty

Main image © ©Simon and Sarah Righton

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