Berkshire

Berkshire pig

Key Characteristics

The Berkshire can cope with most conditions and is well suited to an outdoor system. The average litter size for the Berkshire is 9.98 piglets (2009 data) and the breed is known for having good maternal instincts. It is a docile breed that is easily managed.

History

  • The Berkshire is the oldest recorded pedigree pig breed in Britain. 
  • Cromwell’s troops when stationed in Reading made reference to a local breed of pig renowned for its size and the quality of its bacon. 
  • This is one of the earliest records of the Berkshire and the breed of the 17th century was very different to the modern breed, being large and coming in a variety of colours. 
  • The modern Berkshire was improved in the late 18th and 19th centuries by the introduction of Asian breeding. 
  • The breed became popular during the 19th and first half of the 20th century but declined in numbers when the emphasis in pig farming turned to bacon production and “white” pigs.

Appearance

  • A medium sized breed, sows weigh around 220kg and boars 280kg.
  • The Berkshire is a compact, short legged breed with a dished face, medium length snout and prick ears. 
  • They are black with white “socks”, white tail and a white mark on the face

Uses

Meat

The Berkshire is an early maturing, pork producer similar to the Middle White. Pigs destined for slaughter should be reared to 60-70kg which they should reach in 3-4 months. The meat is renowned for its flavour and Berkshire pork is highly prized in Japan.

Did you know?

Berkshires were once a very popular breed. During the last 17 years of the 19th century, the breed produced 12 Smithfield champions, including pigs exhibited by members of the Royal Family.

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