While this index is not 100% complete for all breeds, nor does it contain all the information available for all breeds, it does give you an idea of what you are looking for when you go to purchase a pig. This is where it gets a little tricky. Some highly crossed pigs will resemble a specific breed. It is in your best interest to see both parents before purchasing a pig for breeding. If you are only interested in Barbequeing a pig, it probably doesn’t matter, but you most likely will get inferior meat quality.
I must emphasize that this article is only to help you identify specific breeds. To some people pork is pork. To others, specific breeds have a unique flavor or meat quality. I have personally had the opportunity to enjoy many of the breeds mentioned below including feral hogs. We have even had calls from folks looking for Pot Belly pigs for consumption, (They are very fat and have a lot of waste) but our Pot Bellies are for pets.
Remember, multiple crosses throw off multiple colors even though white is a dominant gene, piglets can range in color in multi-crossed pigs.
Love your pig, Enjoy your Pork!
A little history first. I admit I am partial to the Berkshire
breed but in all fairness they are the oldest registered breed in the
world. No really, they are. An excerpt from The American Berkshire Association; “
On February 25 of the 1875, the American Berkshire Association was founded, becoming the first Swine Registry to be established in the world. This society drew forth an enthusiastic response from those
working with the breed both in this country and in England. The first hog ever recorded was the boar, Ace of Spades, bred by Queen Victoria of England.”
Berkshire Pig Standards
A Berkshire shall be:
- A black and white animal with erect ears exhibiting Berkshire character.
- A Berkshire must have white on all four legs, face and tail (unless tail is docked). One of the white leg points may also be missing.
- Must be ear notched within seven days of birth.( This goes for all pigs requiring ear notches)
- A Berkshire must NOT have a solid white or a solid black face from the ears forward.
- A Berkshire must NOT have a solid black nose (rim of nose).
- White is allowed on the ears, but NO solid white may appear on the ears.
- Occasional splash of white may appear on the body.
The Berkshire, as seen above, has a few characteristic traits that makes them stand out. The easiest to spot are the erect ears. Compared to the Poland China, which has many of the same markings, the Berkshire also a somewhat distinct figure. This breed is known foremost for meat quality, with some backfat, but great marbling of the carcass. They have shorter necks and more of a dish face. Berkshire pigs are also known as a Heritage Breed.
More about Berkshire Hogs
1. Solid, non-cloven hoof.
2. Solid black.( a few white points accepted.)
3. Medium pricked ears. Falling forward not covering the entire face.
Good news from the Mulefoot Hog Association, the breed has grown to over 600 registered pigs. While still in the critical stage, this demands applause to the breeders that have commited themselves to keeping Mulefoot Hogs. Don’t disregaurd this breed if your looking into pastured pigs. They do well out of doors, let’s say thrive outside. They are cold and heat tolerant and acclimate well to many climates. Do Not mis-represent them as ferel hogs.
Picture from Harborside Farms.
The other red pig. Most notable about the Tamworth breed is it’s ability to forage for itself. The Tamworth are originally from central England in the counties of Stafford, Warwick, Leicester, and
Northhampton. While the color may resemble that of a Duroc, the Tamworth is not to be confused with it’s red cousin.
Tamworth Pig Standards
1.Golden-red, abundant, straight and fine and as free from black hairs
2. Face slightly dished, wide between the ears, jowl light.
3. Ears, large and erect
4. Black hair and black spots are objectionable.
The Tamworth is on the ALBC’s list as threatened. The Tamworth is gaining in popularity wordwide as more farmers are looking for pigs that do well out of doors in pasture raised operations. The Tamworth is a natural rooter, just look at that snout, it was made for the job. From The ALBC “Ginger
red coats make the pigs adaptable to a variety of climates and protect them from sunburn. Tamworths have an active intelligence, and they are agreeable in disposition. Sows are prolific, able to produce and care for large litters. The piglets are vigorous and often have 100% survivability. Both sexes of this breed reach a mature weight of 500-600 lbs (227-272 kg).”
Picture by: The Pig Site
The large Black is listed by the American Livestock Conservancy as critical with roughly 300 breeders in the U.S. as of 2008 and 144 breeders in U.K. in the same year. The large Black is known for it’s ability to raise large litters out of doors while being excellent foragers.
Large Black Pig Standards
1. Solid Black snout to tail
2. Large lop ears covering the eyes
3. Long strait face and snout
4. Long deep bodies
Wolfe Mountain Farms
These pigs should be easily identified. They are a huge black pigs. The Large Black Hog Association, while still in it’s infancy compared to other breeds, is making great progress in protecting this breed from extinction. For those looking into pastured pig production, this is a fantanstic breed. They may be a little difficult to come by, but most good things require a little effort.
Picture by: Wolfe Mountain Farms
During the early part of the present century a strain of hogs whose color markings resembled to a great extent the red and white markings of Hereford cattle was developed by Mr. R.U. Weber of LaPlata, MO. Little is known of his exact matings, hence his progress was extremely slow.
About twenty years later (1902 to 1925) a group of hog breeders in Iowa and Nebraska by cooperative effort and under the leadership of Mr. John Schulte of Norway, IA, developed a strain of swine they, too named Herefords.
These men had definite goals in mind as to type, color, conformation, superior feeding qualities and other favorable characteristics to develop in their foundation stock. Both Duroc and Poland China blood lines were used to a considerable extent in a judicious program of crossing, inbreeding, interbreeding, and selecting to develop superior foundation breeding stock.
In 1934, sponsored by the Polled Hereford Cattle Registry Association located in Des Moines, Iowa, the National Hereford Hog Record Association was organized. About one hundred selected animals from the herds of Mr. John Schulte of Norway, Iowa; Mr. A.J. Way of New Sharon, Iowa; Mr. Henry Weimers; of Diller, Nebraska; G.P. Rue of Nickerson, Nebraska; and P.W. Mitchell of Van Meter, Iowa; were selected as foundation stock for original registry.
Inquiries come to the Record Office every day from new and prospective breeders, from Vocational Ag. Departments of schools and old breeders as to where breeding stock can be secured.
The life blood of our Hereford Breed of hogs is its breeders. Breeders progress and prosperity depend on the kind of hogs raised.
Color Description Updated:
To be eligible for registration they must have 2/3 white face and 2/3 red body. They can not have any white beyond the middle of the shoulders and over the back. They can not have any belt. They must have at least 3 white legs 1 inch high and must go all the way around the leg.
Information from National Hereford Hog Association
Picture from Prairie State Semen
Poland China’s are sort of a mystery pig. While the breed can be traced back to a few Ohio counties, it is not known exactly which breeds influenced the creation of the Poland China. Pigs during this era needed to be large and travel easy to get themselves to market.
Poland Chinas fit the bill perfectly.
Poland China Breed Standards:
1: Must be black with six white points (face, feet and switch) with an occasional splash of white on the body. A hog may not possess more than one (1) solid black leg and be determined as a Poland China.
2: Must have ears down (floppy)
3: Must not have evidence of a belt formation.
4: Can not have red or sandy hair / and or pigment.
This PSSS boar (Bravo 2-10) has all the correct markings of a Poland China pig. All 4 feet are white, white on his face, and white on the tip of the tail. The CPS registry allows tail docking, so don’t be alarmed if you see a Poland China that has a stubby black tail. It is common practice for confinement operations to dock tails in order to discourage biting when piglets get bored. Pay special attention to the ears on this breed. The Berkshire, we’ll see them soon, has the same markings, but they have erect ears. Poland Chinas have floppy ears.
Don’t confuse the two, they are definitely different breeds.
Picture by Prairie State Semen
Chester Whites are classified as Heritage Hogs and are known for superior mothering abilities, durability, and soundness.
Chester White Breed Standards:
1: Must be completely white
2: Possesses a dished face
3: has medium fall floppy ears
4: has a full thick coat
You can see in the image that the Chester White’s ears do not lay fully flat over the eyes. Also the Chester White is typically a more pure white hog when compared to Yorkshires and Landrace. Chester Whites have been preferred by packing houses for their superior muscle and white skin which dresses out to a light pink. The Chester White is
known as a Heritage Breed.
Picture by Prairie State Semen
Landrace are white in color. Their ears droop and slant forward with its top edges nearly parallel to the bridge of a straight nose. Landrace, which are noted for their ability to farrow and raise large litters, are the fifth most recorded breed of swine in the United States.
Landrace Breed Markings and Registration Requirements
No animal to be used for breeding purpose shall be eligible to record:
1. On which there is any hair other than white on any part of the animal’s body
2. Which has upright ears
3. Which has less than six functional teats on each side of the underline or has any inverted teats
4. Where an animal shows evidence of an extra dewclaw. Black spots in the skin are very objectionable and any large spots or numerous black spots located on any part of the hog makes the pig ineligible for registry.
However, a small amount of black pigmentation is allowed on the body of the animal.
Official NSR site info in Here
Hampshire Breed Markings and Registration Requirements
Hampshire boars and gilts must meet the requirements (except color markings) along with the following to be eligible to show in a breeding animal class.
1. Black in color with a white belt totally encircling the body including both front legs and feet. Animal can have white on its nose as long as the white does not break the rim of the nose and when its mouth is closed, the white under the chin can NOT exceed what a U.S. minted quarter will cover. White is allowed on the rear legs as long as it does NOT extend above the tuber calis bone (knob of the hock).
2. Must have at least six (6) functional udder sections on each side of the underline.
3. Animals farrowed on or after January 1, 2005, the swirl is no longer a disqualification for registration.
Hampshire swine classified as off-belts may be used for breeding purposes, with offspring eligible for registration with the National Swine Registry. Off-belts will continue to be eligible to be shown in market hog classes, but will not be eligible for exhibition in breeding swine shows. This policy is retroactive and will allow litters to be registered that were not eligible previously, due to the Hampshire Swine Registry off-belt requirements.
In the picture above, the boar has the full belt that is specified in the Hampshire breed requirements, while little Pig Farms, Black Magic, on the right has what the requirements refer to as on “off-belt” She is a Hampshire pig but doesn’t meet breed standards for showing in a national event. I sure would like to see the babies between her and PSSS’ Game Face. He looks good. So there you are, a Hampshire pig should look like the one’s pictured here, preferably with a full belt. Hampshire hogs are listed as a Heritage breed.
for registry –
(1) white feet or white spots on any part of the body with the exception of the end of the nose;
(2) black spots, no more than three, none over two inches in diameter on the body;
(3) ridgeling (one testicle) boar;
(4) less than six functional udder sections on each side of the underline.
Notice the Duroc is red all over. No white markings to be seen and his ears are droopy, covering the eyes. He is big boned and stands with his feet firmly planted. Obviously he is great breeding stock, but the idea is to show you what a Duroc really looks like. They don’t have white belts, or white feet, as a matter of fact they don’t have any white. If you go to a farm to buy a Duroc and see lots of white markings, ask what they crossed it too. If they can’t tell, you may want get your stock elsewhere.
Notice how the ears are erect. Also notice all the extended disqualifications as compared with other pigs, such as Hermaphroditism.. What? Really? Ok guys, back to the breeding board.
Something went way wrong. Yorkshires are America’s typical market hog. By using Yorkshires in many crossbreeding programs, producers are able to extract what they call Hybrid Vigor. Meaning: the offspring from these crosses show better muscling and faster weight gains. In the
United States and Canada, this breed is called Yorkshire, however, in England, where the breed originated; it is referred to as the Large White.
The next three breeds are Chester White, Poland China, and Spotted pigs. The official registry is Certified Pedigreed Swine or CPS. This registry was formed in 1997 and has over 1000 Junior and Senior members. The CPS website doesn’t offer the specifics in as much detail as the NSR, but these are all well-established old American breeds. The roots of these breeds may have come from Europe, but the development of the breeds was as American as football.
Breed Markings and Registration Requirements
The presence of one or more of the following disqualifies Yorkshire pigs from registry:
1. Less than six teats on a side
2. Any hair other than white on any part of the animal’s body
3. Total blindness
4. Hernia or ruptures
7. One testicle or any pronounced abnormal condition of the testicles
8. Black spots in the skin are very objectionable and any large spots or
numerous black spots located on any part of the hog makes the pig
ineligible for registry
9. Evidence of an extra dewclaw. However, a small amount of black
pigmentation is allowed on the body of the animal.