MARKET SWINE 101 - BREEDS
Common breeds of market hogs seen at United States county fairs and jackpot shows are Hampshire, Yorkshire, Berkshire, Duroc, Blue Butt Cross and Spot. Many are considered cross bred if not entered into a breed class.
Which breed you select is completely up to you and your preference for style, color and availability in your area. Over the years, different breeds have been more popular than others and it’s interesting to see the trends come and go. When I was in high school, Durocs, Hampshire and Yorkshire were the most popular. In today’s market, we see primarily Hampshire, Yorkshires, Blue Butts and other crossbreds. The Duroc, Berkshire & Spot are may not be as popular in quantity, but are coming back. The right breeding and confirmation in any breed can help you to have a great showing experience. Style and preference is just what we like. We have shown Hampshires, Blue Butts, Durocs and Spots and enjoyed each breed! Here are some breed characteristics of the more common market pigs. Check out our Resource Directory for Swine Breeders in your area. Check out their farms before you decide! The Swine breeders have great information to help you decide.
EARS -A Little Ear Trivia
Did you know that pigs have either upright or floppy ears? Pigs whose name ends with “Shire” have upright ears. This can be advantage in showing as the pig’s vision isn’t blocked by his ears and they can be more responsive…of course, that is if you have put your time working with your pig. All other pigs have floppy ears. If your pig is spooky and has floppy ears, it may be because they cannot see you. If this is the case, you’ll have to spend more time working with your pig to get them past this.
COMMON MARKET SWINE BREEDS IN THE USA
The Hampshire breed is black with a white belt extending over the front shoulders, total encircling the body including both front legs and feet. As their name implies, they have erect ears. White is allowed on the rear legs as long as it does not extend above the hock. They can have white on their nose as long as the white does not break the rim of the nose and when their mouth is closed. The white under their chin cannot exceed what a quarter will cover. Hampshire’s classified as “off belts” (solid black with no white belt) may be used for market in the AOB (All Other Breeds class). This is also true if white markings extend above the rear hocks. If you are wanting to complete in the Hampshire class, make certain that your pig project meets all of the color marking rules or your pick will be likely be put in the cross bred or AOB classes at the weight scales. The Hampshire breed requirements state that they must have at least six functional teats on each side. They are known for being heavy muscled, lean, with little back fat. Packers like this breed for their carcass quality and thin skin, which makes processing easier.
The Yorkshire breed is white in color, with erect upright ears. They must have no less than six teats on both sides. The must only have white hair and any black skin spots cannot exceed what a quarter will cover. Yorkshires are durable, sound hogs that are excellent mothers. It is the most recorded breed in the United States. Yorkshire is popular because of their muscular, low back fat and lean carcasses. They are a very thick and long backed pig. They require full sun protection.
The Duroc breed is known as the red pig. Durocs can vary in color from a light red to deep, dark red color. Keeping their skin conditioned and fully shaded will keep their skin and hair a dark rich red color. The Duroc breed standard requires floppy ears, a red color pattern, and at least six functional teats on each side. Durocs cannot have white feet or other white spots anywhere on the body except their nose and they may not possess more than three black spots, which must be smaller than two inches in diameter.
Durocs are known for their lean gain efficiency, carcass yields, and muscle quality. Their popularity has made Durocs the second most recorded breed of swine in the United States
BLUE BUTT – CROSS BRED
Blue Butts are cross-bred between Hampshire’s and Yorkshires. They generally have some dark markings around their hind-quarters, thus the term “blue butt”. This type of pig is very popular in the market shows. They tend to be fast and hardy growers that develop into thick deep pigs. They require full sun protection.
Spots are known for being fast growers, with good feed efficiency, and high quality carcasses. Spots are popular among commercial hog farmers for producing fast growing crossbred offspring. The breed requirement for Spots, states that they must be black and white in color. Breed disqualifications include erect ears and red tinted or brown colored spots. Solid black hair from the ears forward is unacceptable as are belt patterns over the shoulder. These are breed requirements and do not prevent you from showing them in a market class. They require full sun protection.
If they have erect ears they must show as a Berkshire cross.
The Berkshire is all black with white points must appear on the nose, feet, and tail. These white points can be missing and any additional white points may appear on the body of the animal. The meat quality of the Berkshire is unique because it has a greater proportion of lean meat intermixed with streaks of fat. This intramuscular fat gives more marbling in comparison to other breeds.
Animals that are ineligible for breed registration would possess hair colors other than black and white, have less than 12 teats, or have one or more swirled hair patterns, or show signs of blindness.
The Poland are black with six white points. These white points must be located on the face, feet, and tip of the tail with floppy ears. They look similar to the Berkshire in color but have floppy ears. They must not show any evidence of belt formation or have more than one solid black leg or they will be disqualified for registration. Other breed disqualifications include red or sandy hair color, tail docking, or any evidence of ear tampering. Poland’s are known for being big framed, long bodied, lean, muscular hogs that lead the pork industry in pounds of hogs produced per sow per year. They have a quiet personality and are rugged and tough. The breed is known for having very substantial bone and for being sound in its feet and legs.
The Chester White breed standards require a pig to be solid white and have medium sized ears that point downward. Chester Whites are ineligible for registration if any other color pigmentation is larger than a silver dollar or shows any signs of ear tampering. The Chester White breed is known for its mothering ability, durability, and structural soundness. For many years, Chester Whites have been popular with pork producers because of their extreme longevity. Packers prefer Chester Whites because of their white colored skin is easily removed during the harvesting process. They have a softer looking muscle when compared to the other market breeds.