London, October 5 : A 15-year-old girl, who asked for piglets for her birthday, has become Britain's youngest pig farmer.
Emma Cianchi actually wanted to keep the two Berkshire piglets as pets, but after attending a course on pig-rearing, she is now breeding them in a field at the back of the family home at Preston-on-Wye, near Hereford.
The teen girl, who has 20 rare-breeds, spends an hour every day looking after the growing herd before and after school.
"I'm not sure what first attracted me to keeping these animals. It certainly wasn't the early mornings I would have to get used to - or the weird looks my friends would give me when I told them what I was doing - and it definitely wasn't the money I would make. I'm still waiting for that. My friends think I'm mad," the Telegraph quoted her as saying.
"At the time I just thought it would be great fun to have some pigs as pets but after the course I became really interested in helping to preserve British rare-breed pigs. The best way to do that was to farm them," she added.
Emma's parents also help her out with looking after the animals.
Her father Peter, a project manager for a building company, makes the arks for the animals to live in and her mother has set up a website, emmaspigs.co.uk.
Anna Cianchi, a school bursar, said: "I thought that when we bought the field that maybe Emma might ask for a horse but it never crossed our minds she would want pigs. Because of her age we have had to register for VAT and things like that but to all intents and purposes it is her business."
Emma, seven of whose pigs have already been sent to the abattoir, has sold meat to teachers and the parents of school friends.
She is planning to set up her own stall at Monmouth market in Gwent.
Marcus Bates, chief executive of the British Pig Association, said that as far as he was aware Emma was Britain's youngest pig farmer.
"Good luck to her. The average age of pig farmers is getting older and older and it is very difficult to get young people to come into the business. So youngsters coming into the industry is great news," he said.