An eastern Ontario breeder of a rare pig called the Large Black has launched a 'sponsor a pig' program' to help save her herd and offset the rising cost of feed.

Barb Schaefer has about 300 of the Large Black pigs at her farm near Merrickville, Ont., but said the cost of feed has more than tripled since she began and said in the last week alone feed prices have gone up 25 per cent. 

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Barb Schaefer's Upper Canada Heritage Meat farm is home to one of the largest herds of Large Black pigs. (CBC)

At current prices Schaefer said she's looking at $1500 a week to feed her herd.

Drought conditions in the region are partially to blame for the rise in feed prices, she said.

"I can't keep it up anymore, there's just no way," said Schaefer.

While cattle farmers in the region have been forced to cut their losses and sell part of their herds, Schaefer said she is reluctant to do the same because of the rarity of the breed.

Only a dozen Large Black farms in Canada

Schaefer is just one of a dozen farmers across Canada that breeds the Large Black, according to Rare Breeds Canada, a non-profit charity that promotes the breeding of Canadian farm animals. Schaefer said she's been growing the herd to increase the genetic stock in Canada.

"To let any of them go will compromise that to some degree and it will make me really sad," she said.

Schaefer said she is looking for people willing to pay a portion of a pig's food expenses until it is ready for slaughter. When these pigs are ready, she'll pay the individual back in pork.

She said people also have the option to make a donation to help her breed the pig.

She said if the plan can't keep the farm afloat, she will look to sell part of the herd.

"Now there's really nowhere else to go. I'm starting to look for buyers," she said.