The Berkshire pig breed is a domestic swine that is considered to be a highly endangered species.
According to Roy's Farm, the Berkshire pig is listed as vulnerable, and as of 2008, fewer than 300 breeding sows were known to exist. Herds of the Berkshire pigs are still maintained by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust in England at Aldenham Country Park, Hertfordshire and herds of the breed are also maintained by the South of England Rare Breeds Centre in Kent.
The Berkshire pig is an excellent choice for farmers who want to raise heritage livestock. This pig is hardy, has good mothering capabilities and performs very well outdoors, especially when grazing on pasture.
History and origin
The Berkshire pig breed is one of the oldest identifiable breeds. These black pigs, with white "points," were documented in the English "shire of Berks" more than 350 years ago and made their way to the United States in the early 1800s. In 1875, breeders formed the American Berkshire Association, making it the first breeders group and swine registry in the world!
Pig breed characteristics
Berkshire pigs are a medium-to-large breed size. They're known to have an excellent disposition and are curious and friendly. These hardy and robust pigs can tolerate different weather conditions easily.
Here are three characteristics worth sharing with other farmers if they're considering this breed.
- Productivity rate: The pigs have good mothering ability, and they tend to produce adequate milk for the piglets.
- Skin coat color: Cool fact! The skin of the pig is pink, but it has black and white spots (on legs, face, and tail). The dark-colored skin helps to reduce sunburns.
- Maturity rate: Berkshire pig is relatively a faster grower, and they tend to attain maturity 180-195 days after birth.
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The Berkshire pig is known for its quality meat production. Roy's Farm tells us this breed is a fast-growing pig.
"The Berkshire pork is prized for juiciness, flavor, and tenderness, is pink-hued and heavily marbled. The meat is rich in high-fat content which makes it very suitable for long cooking and high-temperature cooking."
Reasons to love this breed
Zepa Farm Club provides many reasons to love this breed:
- The pigs provide the right heritage pork
- Have the best genetic purity that results in purebreds
- Have international recognition
- Continued superiority
- Stockmanship and animal welfare
- Provide quality meat
What's your favorite reason if you own this pig breed?
The Berkshire breed is a heritage breed that small farms should consider. There is a demand for the meat and Berkshire numbers are slowly climbing. According to many experts, it's all about taste. Berkshire hogs marble well so the meat quality is naturally juicy and flavorful with exceptional texture. It's all about the marbling!
This breed of pig started out on a small scale with many farmers. Berkshires make ideal animals for small-scale operations. Another reason farmers love this breed is Berkshire sows are also excellent mothers.
Do you know anyone that has pigs as livestock? Let us know in the comments below!