A HEREFORDSHIRE pig breeder is doing her bit to expand the gene pool of a rare breed of pig.

Meishan's – with their floppy ears and wrinkly faces – are one of the rarest pigs in the UK.

However, three piglets have just been born at Wendy Scudamore's Barton Hill farm in Kentchurch.

"As far as I am aware, there are under 15 of these pigs in the country at present," said Wendy.

"Finding unrelated stock to continue the breeding programme will be challenging, but with determination and careful research, we hope to be able to expand the gene pool."

Wendy collected the piglets' mother Mae, her sister Jenjen and an unrelated boar called Querrelle from the Netherlands early last year.

The two girls were born there, but the boar had travelled across Europe to be imported in the UK.

Wendy said that she thinks there are only 30 Meishan pigs in Europe.

"There are about 70 in the USA, but they are unrelated to the ones in Europe and it is difficult to import from the States," said Wendy.

"The Meishan is indeed an unusual sight with its Dumbo-like ears and extremely wrinkly face.

"The thick grey skin hangs in folds and together with its slow and precise movements add to its strong resemblance to an odd little elephant."

Meishans come from a lake and valley region of China and are one of the most prolific breeds of pig in the world.

Mae's litter was therefore relatively small

"They are considered Taihu pigs, deriving their name from the Taihu Lake in their region of origin," said Wendy.

"They reach puberty at two-and-a-half to three-months old achieve high embryo survival rates, and a large litter size of 15-16 pigs.

"Their meat is considered a delicacy in the Far East where it can often be found on the menu in top class restaurants.

"The piglets are about four weeks old now and doing fine.

"The two boys will go to a rare breeding place, but I'm keeping the little girl."