Market Lavington Museum

Cottage pig keeping


In Victorian times and, indeed, as recently as World War II, it was quite common for people to keep a pig. This could be obtained as a young piglet, which was kept in a sty in the back yard or garden. Pigs are omnivores and could be fed through the summer on household scraps, outer leaves of cabbages, bruised apples or whatever was available.

When food supplies dwindled in the late autumn, the pig sticker would be called in and the animal would be killed for meat. Piggy Ward was the man who did this in Market Lavington. (See Piggy Ward deals with a ‘Customer’)

At the museum we have a 2012 photograph of the end of a double pigsty from the garden of 39 Church Street (originally the site of 35 and 37 Church Street.)

Before people had fridges and freezers, keeping meat through the winter was a problem. On the day a pig was killed, friends and family, who also kept a pig, would be given some of the fresh meat on the proviso that the favour would be returned in kind, when their pig meat was available.

Most of the remaining meat would be salted down to be used during the winter months. It was important to do this during the cooler days of autumn and and winter as it took about three weeks for the process to take effect and the meat could have gone rotten if this was attempted during the hot days of summer.