Photo from Bark
This is another rare pig that came from England, being listed as a vulnerable breed in 2008, with fewer than 300 sows in existence in previous years. It is a breed you can find in the United States, since they were first imported in the country in 1823. The actual history of this pig goes back over 350 years in England. Oliver Cromwell made mention of them because of their fine tasting pork and ham. It was a popular breed through the end of World War Two, known as a lard pig and meat pig. Its lard was a prime choice in lubricants, cosmetics, cooking, etc., but vegetable fats became a better alternative, and pork producers preferred leaner pigs.
Reason for Their Decline
As a result, Berkshire numbers began to decline, but a demand for higher quality pork around the world has fueled a recent surge in their numbers. Aside from the U.S. and Britain, you can find the Berkshire as far as New Zealand and Japan. The Berkshire has become a common pig for small-scale farmers looking to compete with large corporations by marketing higher quality meat, and humanely treated pigs directly to consumers. And, since these pigs do not do as well in being confined anyway, they are excellent candidates within the organic niche. They are natural foragers and good grazers.
Their commercial value aside, they also make good breeding stock. You can get 8-10 piglets per litter, and even as many as 16 in some cases. There are other common breeds that can produce litters, but if you're after a rare breed, the Berkshire is one to go after. They have impeccable mothering abilities and the sows produce milk, allowing the piglets to grow faster.
They are a prime breed to consider when cross breeding, and they have desirable traits that can be passed onto to future piglets.
Their dark coating makes them more resistant to sunburn, and they are naturally curious and docile. They can range from medium to large, growing to be around 600 pounds, and they have stocky builds, and short legs. Their muscular frame also makes them a good candidate from crossbreeding. Ears are fairly erect, with a dish face, and fairly short snout. Check them out in the video below.
They are pigs suited to the outdoors, and a good way to carve out a niche market. And, you'll be doing your part in keeping these pigs alive for future generations. And raising Berkshire pigs could prove to be a steady source of extra. This is not a pet pig by any means, but a good source for breeding and having an outdoor pig on your land.