Focus on the American Yorkshire Pig

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If you’re looking to raise pigs on your acreage, it can be helpful to do a little bit of a deep dive into respective breeds so that you have better context and have a better idea of what you’re committing to. Check out this article from the University of California-Davis for some generalized pig and pig breeding vocabulary terms!

The American Yorkshire is the stereotypical white pig breed seen in film and other facets of popular culture (most notably 1995’s “Babe”). When someone discusses pigs, they’re most likely what jump to your mind’s eye.

Encyclopedia Brittanica says “[The] Yorkshire, also called Large White [was a] breed of swine produced in the 18th century by crossing the large indigenous white pig of North England with the smaller, fatter, white Chinese pig. The well-fleshed Yorkshire is solid white with erect ears…The Yorkshire is probably the most widely distributed breed of pig in the world.” Due to their light complexion, they need lots of shade (and time in the mud!) to protect them from the sun (, “A Pig By Any Other Name”). Today they are the most common breed in the U.S. and Canada.

“They are found in almost every state, with the highest populations being in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio” ( The first Yorkshire imports arrived in Ohio around 1830. “In the late 1940s there was a period of rapid breed expansion. A large percentage of Yorkshires were brought in from Canada where the breed had been the most popular breed because of its ability to produce the kind of carcass that was in demand in that country. Yorkshires were also being imported from England where they were known for having greater substance, ruggedness and scale. By selection, and the use of the imported pigs, they met the needs of the pork producer and the demands of the market in this country.

“Today, Yorkshires are productive, yet more performance oriented and more durable than ever. The goal of the Yorkshire breed is to be a source of durable mother lines that can contribute to longevity and carcass merit.” (Visit National Swine Registry – Yorkshire, “America’s Maternal Breed” for more information.)

What does that mean in plain English? They’re a solid, durable breed with strong maternal instincts and prolific breeding patterns – meaning you could be well situated with this breed for meat processing or resale. This breed is valued for its lean meat cuts. Be aware, however – they do have slower growth rates than some other breeds.

Looking at raising pigs for the first time? The article referenced at the beginning from UC-Davis offers a great generalized overview of the entire process and special considerations to keep in mind.

For further reading, check out Penn State Extension’s “Raising Small Groups of Pigs.”

by Andrew Haman

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