The Large White is widely used in outdoor systems and is hardy enough to cope with most conditions. Decades of performance recording and rigorous selection has made the Large White more prolific than most rare breeds. Average litter size is around 11-12 piglets/litter. Sows are milky and make for good mothers.
The breed is known for having an excellent F.C.R. (feed conversion ratio) and pigs are capable of achieving high D.L.W.G. (daily liveweight gain). The breed is ideally suited to an intensive system and the high levels of management and data recording in such a system can bring out the best in the breed.
- The Large White was developed in Yorkshire during the 19th century from the local white breeds.
- Unlike several of the other British breeds the Large White had little Asian blood in its ancestry.
- The first herdbook for the Large White was published in 1884 and by the end of the 19th century the breed was attracting a great deal of interest with enterprising breeders exporting stock worldwide.
- During the 20th century the breed grew in popularity and it was one of the breeds (along with Landrace and Welsh) recommended to form the basis of the UK pig farming industry in the 1955 Howitt Report.
- The growth in performance recording and the increasing specialisation of the world pig industry led to further demand for the Large White and the breed became known as “The World’s Favourite Breed”.
- The Large White is a large, lean white breed.
- Sows weight around 260-300kg and boars, 350-380kg.
- Animals have distinctive prick ears.
- Pigs should have excellent conformation with good hams.
The Large White/Landrace cross is now a very popular sow for both intensive and extensive systems and several modern composite sire and dam lines contain some Large White blood.
The Large White can be used in a crossbreeding program in a variety of ways:
- Terminal sire on rare breeds- Produces a lean, fast growing pig more suited to the commercial market.
- Maternal sire on Landrace/rare breeds- The Large White adds prolificacy, leanness and conformation to a maternal breeding program.
- Commercial sire line- There are strains of Large White that have been specifically bred and selected to be terminal sires for intensive systems.
However pedigree lines must be maintained in order to achieve the hybrid vigor.
The Large White is predominantly renowned for bacon production but there is the flexibility within the breed to allow farmers to send pigs to slaughter at a range of weights. The breed is well conformed with little fat and suited to meeting supermarket/processor requirements.
Did you know?
Internationally the breed is more commonly known as the Yorkshire, after the area where it was developed.
The Rare Breeds Survival Trust is the leading national charity working to conserve and protect the United Kingdom's rare native breeds of farm animals from extinction. We rely on the support of our members, grants and donations from the public to raise the £700,000 a year needed to maintain our conservation work with rare UK native breeds of farm animals. Visit www.rbst.org.uk to see how you can help.