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Mike Gebert reports at Sky Full of Bacon that Maveric Heritage Ranch, a South Dakota farm that raises rare breeds of livestock and has the largest mulefoot hog herd in the country, suffered a barn fire last week that killed more than 40 rare hogs, including several mulefoot sows with their litters of piglets, a Wessex saddleback boar, and a guinea hog boar, as well as a stallion and several cats. As Mike Sula has reported, mulefoot hogs are extremely rare, and the entire breed is in danger of dying out. Farm owner Arie McFarlen said:
We cannot replace our rare breed pigs. They simply do not exist. Our work for nearly ten years has been to preserve and save these breeds of pigs. We cannot begin to express our sense of loss over these animals, not just from our lives, but from all future generations.
This tragedy has made it even more clear to us that these rare breeds are in a very precarious situation. At any moment, a disaster, accident or disease could take yet another species from this planet.