The Ossabaw Island Hog is considered to be the oldest and purest breed of pigs in America. Brought to Ossabaw Island on Georgia’s Gold Coast by the Spaniards in the late 1490’s and abandoned by the Spanish in about 1503, they are believed to be direct, mid-evil descendants of the famous Spanish Iberico hog, and have some genetic links to the now extinct Canary Island hog. This make sense since the Spanish explorers stopped off at the Canary Islands to resupply before crossing the Atlantic.
Due to the geographical location of the island, combined with the fact it was never developed, these pigs remained there, largely undisturbed, for over 500 years. Due to the small population, odds were against the survival of this isolated herd, largely stemming from a lack of genetic diversity. However, the Ossabaw pigs did adapt in there unfamiliar surroundings, and overcame their food source challenges and began to thrive.
They took advantage of acorns that fell abundantly from the Live Oak trees during the fall and sustainable food sources including snails, crabs and carrion to be found in the vast marshes surrounding the island. In 1978 a group of specialized animal scientists and veterinarians, in order to further study this breed, strategically removed a small number of pigs from the island.
To conduct this research, they sought out an isolated group which most accurately represented the visual appearance of these unique animals. These animals were humanely captured, quarantined and removed from the island. Several of these pigs were instrumental in establishing research herds for universities, while others eventually made their way to small, homestead style farms to further grow and nurture the Ossabaw breed.
Our herd was started in approximately 2003 with 3 sows and a boar by Byran Childress in Virginia. By selecting the best, Childress sought to improve upon this critically endangered breed.
In 2012 our farm acquired these genetics and with the advice and guidance from Childress, and the Livestock Conservancy we sought to continue his work. The original purpose of our herd was to provide exceptional pork for Atlanta and Georgia chefs and consumers. More than 1500 Ossabaw piglets, we were blessed with a select few “exceptional” animals to continue improving the genetics.
From these animals we started the Gen-3 line of Bridge-Line Ossabaws. Our Gen 3 are the best-of-the-best. By breeding exceptional boars to exceptional sows, we were able to increase the number desirable Ossabaws from ‘occasional’ to 1 or more per litter. However, this still does not guarantee they make the cut. Sows are monitored for their mothering skills and litter sizes in addition to the quality of their offspring.
We take the health and safety of our herd seriously. The farm’s animal husbandry practices have been applauded and praised by Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black. Quarterly scheduled ‘wellness’ visits assess the health of the herd. These wellness visits, including random samples drawn and sent to the lab, assure our woodland pasture raised herd produces thriving animals safe for food handlers and consumers.
This practice has designated our herd; “USDA and the Georgia Department of Agriculture Certified and Verified Pasture Raised Registered Ossabaw Island Pork” and is also a component in our Georgia Department of Agriculture approved bio-security plan.
Hamthropology is the only Ossabaw herd designated Validated and Qualified by the USDA and GA Dept of Agriculture.
“To become a Validated and Qualified Swine Herd by the USDA and Georgia Department of Agriculture, a herd must be tested quarterly for brucellosis and pseudorabies. This certification increases costs, but the consumer’s confidence in the product’s safety is significantly higher when the owner follows testing guidelines and knows the health of their herds. These steps are important components of the farm’s marketing strategy and I applaud their efforts.” – Gary W Black, Department of Agriculture Commissioner
James Beard House, New York City – Chosen to represent the state of Georgia (Georgia Grown) at this prestigious culinary event – Chef Holly Chute, Chef Savannah Haseler
“The Ossabaw hog was one of the best pigs I have had the pleasure of working with. The superb fat content produces roasted pork that is both impressively juicy as well as flavorful. The crisp skin that pulled away with a thin layer of wonderfully melted pork fat is as sublime a bite as any other I have had the pleasure of tasting. Kudos to the team at Hamthropology for producing such an amazing product.” Chef Ben Barth, Local Three
“You truly have a great product, your passion and commitment to excellence comes through with your hogs. Thank you for your dedication.” Chef Sam Brod, The Landings, Savannah
“…I was thrilled to learn of the depth and commitment applied to this noble breed and the care and personal commitment he gave each animal, from birth to delivery. I was informed along the entire process of the timing of the slaughter and the delivery details to the minute to ensure optimum freshness and integrity.
Upon delivery I found the meat to be of the highest quality and integrity, to the point that I immediately designed a premium placement regimen for the product to be included and promoted during our high profile PGA Tour event, “RBC Heritage at Sea Pines”, where the pork was served with great success.
I would recommend Mr. Mousseau and his amazing pigs to anyone looking to prepare an authentic, heritage breed pork of the highest order for whatever reason.
Well done sir! and please keep up the good work and efforts!” Chef Matt Roher, Sea Pines Resort, South Carolina
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