Like cows, goats and even tomatoes, there is a wide variety of pigs breeds to choose from, should you decide you want to add these animals to your homestead. Almost unanimously, one breed rises to the top in popularity, and with good reason.
The American Yorkshire pig grows to a large size, is relatively easy to care for and has a long lifespan. Even better, the females mother their young for a longer period of time when compared to other pig breeds, making piglets less dependent on you for care.
Yorkshires were first introduced to America in the 1830s. They usually need a little more room than other pigs, but they make a natural choice for most farmers because of their good characteristics. Yorkshires typically reach a height between 2’9” and 3’, a body length of 5’6” to 6’6” and an overall weight between 450 – 750 pounds. Although originally a bacon breed, the Yorkshire rose to prominence as a source of lean-meat during the 20th century.
But maybe you don’t want the most popular pig – or one that’s so large. There are some awesome other options to consider, including Berkshires, one of the oldest heritage breeds available. Berkshires are a popular choice for meat production and are easy-going. Natural forages, they average around 600 pounds. Berkshire pigs are hardy and considered easy keepers.
Boasting a very literal name is the Large Black pig, also known for its hardiness and adaptability. Large Blacks were at one time the most popular breed in England, and they’ve been growing in popularity in the U.S.
American-made, the Duroc breed is part of many of the crosses in commercial pork production. Durocs have a reddish-brown color and are also fairly easy-going.
The Hampshire pig is one of the earliest recorded breeds in America, bred in Kentucky. It is a smaller, leaner pig, with a large loin and lower back fat amount than other breeds.
And often chosen by 4-H participants because they are gentle, lean and good-looking are Hereford pigs.
The Pork Checkoff lists the Top Eight Major Swine Breeds in America, which include some on this list. We’re just scratching the surface by introducing them to you today; keep an eye on Country Culture for deep dives into specific breeds in the coming weeks!