Berkshire Pig

Place of origin: Berkshire, County, UK

Berkshire pork is a heritage breed of pig, which was developed and raised over 300 years ago in Berkshire County in the United Kingdom.

Today although still classed as a rare breed, the Berkshire pig is making a comeback. Prized for it’s juiciness, flavour and tenderness, it contains more marbling ( the bit that makes meat taste amazing!) than most other types of pork.

Interesting facts about the Berkshire pig

The Berkshire is the oldest recorded pedigree pig breed in Britain.

Cromwell’s troops when stationed in Reading referred to a local breed of pig renowned for its size and the quality of its bacon.

Berkshire Pig Characteristics

The body of the Berkshire Pig is of medium size, with a compact body, which differs in weigh according to sex, sows weigh around 220kg and boars 280kg.

Their body is supported by short sturdy legs, which is predominantly black in colour, with white on its face, white ‘socks’, and white on the tip of its tail.

The Berkshires facial characteristics have a short-dished face, with a medium length snout and prick ears, completed by a white mark on the face.

Other Special Characteristics:

•Are a hardy pig and suited to the adversities of outdoor living.

•Sows are excellent mothers

•They are a non-aggressive pig

•Berkshire pigs have great mothering skills

•Averaging litter, 9 piglets

•The Berkshire pork is prized for juiciness, flavor and tenderness, is pink-hued and heavily marbled.

•The Berkshire pig is relatively a fast grower pig

A Breeders Choice

Hi my name is Paul Byrne. I work full time in construction and keep Berkshire pigs as a hobby. My interest in pigs began when I was younger, when I used to help my grandfather with his pigs. He kept a large white sow and got 2 litters every year.

I bought my first pigs in 2008 and raised them for meat for my family. I took an interest in heritage breeds and found myself drawn to the Berkshire.

The breed itself is a middle-sized pig which was one of the characteristics that I liked because I only had a certain amount of area, within my outdoor space. I bought my first Berkshire weaner in 2014 and loved her temperament and character.

I used Deerpark AI in Northern Ireland to breed her. She had ten piglets in her first litter, and she made an excellent mother. She had plenty of milk and was very protective of her litter. I kept one of her gilts as a breeding sow and the rest went for meat. I kept one for my own freezer and I was very happy with the quality of meat that they produced.  The meat was well marbled and tasted great. I continued to breed my two sows and I kept another gilt from second  sow, I currently have three breeding sows and have four generations of Berkshire pigs as can be seen from the picture. All in all, I think they are a great breed and although they almost face extinction after WWII, they have seen a rise in popularity over the last few years with their marbled meat being highly sought after by chefs and culinary experts. They are considered a delicacy in Japan.