Hampshire Pig: Origins, Characteristics, and Facts

Posted by Erin McDade
Hampshire Pig

This little piggy went to market...

The Hampshire breed is said to be the oldest early American hog breed still in existence today. This breed of pigs is also called the American Hampshire or the Wessex Saddleback. Hampshire hogs as we know them today arose in southern Scotland and Northern England. The "Old English Breed" was the name given to these pigs. They were both noticed and chastised for their enormous weight, as pigs were usually slaughtered at 125 pounds live weight. However, they were praised for their abilities, vigor, foraging ability, and exceptional carcass qualities.

Where Does the Hampshire Pig Breed Originate From?

Hampshire pigs were transported into America from Hampshire County in England between 1825 and 1835. Some of the first imports were dubbed the McKay hog after a man by that name was believed to have brought these hogs from England to America. The Hampshire swine breed was a significant importation success in the Corn Belt between 1910 and 1920. Throughout the 1920s, the breed's popularity and numbers grew, especially in Kentucky, but the Hampshires did not achieve their highest fame until after 1930. They have been very common in pig farming and have sold for high prices since then, after their genetic worth has been confirmed with the National Swine Registry.

What Are Hampshire Pig Characteristics?

Hampshire pigs are a large size breed of pigs. Male pigs are approximately 650lbs when fully grown, while sows reach around 550lbs. They live about 12 years and have a calm demeanor. Sows have between 7 to 15 piglets per litter and are lauded for their abilities as mothers. They are not as fast-growing as many crossbred pigs, but are faster growing than American Yorkshires and Berkshires. This breed of hog has erect ears and saddleback coloring with a black body and a white belt around their middle that covers their front legs.

What Are Hampshire Pigs Used For?

Hampshire hogs are well-muscled, fast-growing, and have good carcass quality when used as meat animals. The Hampshire boar is known for being an excellent breed of domestic pig for small farms and homesteading, where their hardiness, large loin eyes, lean meat, thin rind, and low backfat make them excellent candidates for meat production.

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READ MORE: How to Safely & Smartly Keep Pigs as Pets

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Hampshire Pig: Origins, Characteristics, and Facts