Quiz 28: Swine Breeds and Breeding


Swine industry is a branch of animal husbandry that deals only with pigs. The farming, raising and breeding of pigs for their meat as pork are the activities of a swine industry. Some of the major breeds of swine in the United States are Berkshire, Chester White , Duroc, Hamsphire, Landrace and Yorkshire. Each of these breeds has its own advantages and disadvantages. Each of these breeds in discussed in detail as below. Berkshire : This breed traces its origin to England. The entire pig looks black except for the feet, face, tail and ears. It has 6 white points on the entire body. The pig is mainly known for its quality of carcass. Body is very firmly built, neck is short, legs are bulky and feet are strong. Snout is relatively short. It weighs about 600 pounds when on maturity. 300 years ago the breed has won a prize for its eating qualities. The pig is hardy and has good mothering abilities. The pig is known to be a good performer outdoors. The meat has a high score for pH and has a good water holding potential. The pork color remains dark even after cooking. The pork is juicy and tender. The flavor of the pork is said to be better than any other stuff of a grocery store. Chester White : The pig is all white in color and no colored patches are seen anywhere on the body. The pig is best identified by its ears which are medium in size and droopy. The origins of this pig are traced to USA. The main advantages or strengths of this pig are that the females are having superior qualities of a mother. Muscle quality is very superior and the body size is neither too small nor too big. The body weights about 100-250 lbs. Duroc : It mainly originated in United States. It is known as 'Black Angus of Swine'. It comes in many different shades. Color varies from golden to dark red to mahogany. Ears droop in forward direction. The body length is just medium. The pig is known for moody nature unlike the Berkshire. The major attractions for this pig are its growth rate and feed efficiency. Moreover, it is used for cross breeding and it can adapt easily in any climate. Hamsphire : It traces its origin to England. The whole body is black. In the neck region a white band is visible and the front legs also have a patch of white color. They are noted for their muscular growth. The quality of their carcass is highly appreciated by meat eaters. Their growth rate is faster compared to Yorkshires. Landrace : Originally it was a native of Denmark but it was imported to the United States and United Kingdom. The whole body is white is color. The body is long and slender compared to other breeds. The ears are large in size and hang in the front direction. The ears hang almost on the snout. The breed is popular for its motherhood and lactation. Lactation is at its peak at 5 weeks after farrowing. Yorkshire : It is also known as English Large White pig. It was originally seen in Yorkshire but was brought to America in the year 1830. It is light pink in color and ears are in vertically upward direction. It has a good built and it contains more amount of lean pork. The mature pig weighs about 500-750 pounds and a female weighs about 450-600 pounds. They are known to be very active. They are lean due their sound legs and feet. This breed is also chosen for the purpose of cross breeding many times. The breed has remarkable motherly instincts. The snout is very sensitive to smell. The breed is famous for its clean habits.

The top five breeds of swine recorded in the United States are Berkshire, Duroc, Hamsphire, Landrace and Yorkshire. Registration numbers give us an idea/clarity about the importance of a breed. By referring to the registration numbers one can estimate the role of a particular breed towards the beef industry. Looking at the registration numbers we come to know about the total count of cattle belonging to a particular breed in a given year. The trends are as explained below: Berkshire : The association for this breed was formed in the year 1875. The number of heads registered in 1985 was 215. Next 10 years there was a fall in the number of registrations. But after 2005 the registration saw a marked increase. And by 2012 it went up 38,696. Duroc : Unlike Berkshire this breed was in great demand. The numbers of registrations were 21,852 in 1985. Another 5 years the number went up to 22,179. But in 1995 there was a big dip and it fell to 13,709. However, in 2005 again the registration went as high as 84,111. This was the peak of the registration for this breed. After 2005 the number dropped to 76,958in 2008 and further down to 73,396 in the year 2012. Hamsphire : The maximum numbers of heads registered for this breed were in the year 2005. The association for the breed was formed in the year 1893. In the year 1985 the birth of 14,117 litters was recorded. The number increased by another 4000 in the next five years. But in 1995 there was drop in the number of litters born. However, 2005 the number of heads registered were 45,806. The count decreased in the next 3 years to 41,311. There has been a drastic fall by the year 2012. In the year 2012 the numbers of heads registered were only 29,075. Landrace : The association for the breed was established in the year 1950. The initial registrations were few. There were just about 3,501 litters registered in 1985. The number increase by 1000 in the next 10 years. The numbers of heads in the year 2005 were 31,650. In the next 3 years there was a slight fall in the number. But in 2012 about 59,838 births were registered with the association. It can be concluded that the breed was not very popular breed like Yorkshire and Duroc. Yorkshire : img The association for the breed was formed in 1935. In 1985 the breed registered about 24,335 litters. And it is the maximum number when compared to all the above mentioned breeds. But after 1985 there was a slight dip in the number. From 2005 to 2012 the graph only went up. The count per head kept increasing. The numbers of heads in 2005 were 111,137, increased to 116,280. And by 2012 the numbers registered were 144, 897. The breed is a very preferred one for meat eaters because of its lean pork.

A pig is said to be purebred if both parents are of the same breed and are registered in the association. When a pig is registered it has to be a purebred and it is given a registration number. A record of its date of birth, the owner's name and all other details are entered. For pure breeding artificial insemination is the most preferred method. Earlier, many producers used to sell the few pigs they raised. And it was easy to sell. img The purebreds are only bought by other breeders who are into pure breeding. Or, they are bought by a small scale commercial producer. Pure breeding was carried out mainly for the taste of pork, size of the pig and health benefits. Apart from meat, leather, lard and other products were also marketed. Pure breeding was a choice because it brought improvement in the traits. Pure breeding of hogs is a very special business. The number of registered pure bred hogs is only 1% in the United States. Pure bred producers have an important role to play in the swine trade. They produce the breeding stock for commercial production. Making use of pure bred improves the type. For this reason, a purebred producer must keep accurate ancestral records of the hogs they produce. In a purebred operation the record of breeding and farrowing dates is essential. The producers need to spend a lot of time to advertising and promotion. It is also important to make use of genetic principles to bring improvement as per the demand of the consumers.

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