Berkshire pigs are famous for their juicy, tender, and flavored meat. The meat is heavily marbled with fat, which brings uniqueness to its taste. Commonly called as a black-white breed of pig. In Japan, Berkshire meat is known as Kurobuta pork. For most people, Berkshire is to pork what wagyu is to beef.
Berkshire pigs are now bred and raised in several parts of the world, including England, Japan, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.
Berkshire pigs are good for homesteaders. Their friendly temperament and well adjusted to outdoor operations makes any new breeder more comfortable. They perform very well when grazing outdoors. Most of them are grown in family farms which are raised more humanely as possible.
Berkshire meat is now considered as premium meat quality which is making small farms a more profitable business. Today’s increasing interest in traditional meat produced extensively has renewed interest in the Berkshire Pigs breed.
Even now herds of the Berkshire pigs are still maintained by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust in England at Aldenham Country Park, Hertfordshire. Also, the herds of the breed are maintained by the South of England Rare Breeds Centre in Kent.
Japanese love dark meat from black pigs. It is considered healthy and healing. They call them Kurobuta pork a 100 percent Berkshire meat much prized by the Japanese, that preference goes back 300 years or more.
Some Berkshire pigs are also kept in New Zealand and Australia, but fewer than a hundred purebred sows are there now
Berkshire Pigs breed information
- Berkshire Pigs are small pigs with stubby snouts, short legs, and upright prick ears.
- Body-color is usually black to sandy red with white spots on legs, face, and tail. Black body coat has an additional advantage of them not getting sunburned like the white-colored pigs.
- Has erect eats which are bent a little forward. Firm muscular build with a short neck and short legs.
- The breed has a dish-shaped face with a large jaw and an inverted nose when observed from the side.
- Berkshire pigs weigh around 600 pounds at maturity. Maternal instincts are high.
- Generally, Sows will take of young ones easily. Litter size will be around 8 to 10.Sows are great milkers.
- High milk production will be sufficient for the huge litter size, which makes piglets grow quickly. Meat has a light fat and a little marbling which gives juicy flavor.
- Berkshires have a longer gestation which is around 116 days.
- Berkshire will be ready for slaughter in 180 to 195 days with a market weight of 250 pounds (113 kg). Berkshires are friendly towards humans and also curious by nature.
- Berkshires are hardy, can sustain to any circumstances. The normal life expectancy of the Berkshire pigs ranges from 6 years to 10 years.
Raising Berkshire Pigs [From Piglet to Slaughter house]
- Sows are weaned (isolated from the piglets) and moved into a little enclosure all alone beside the pig and other dry sows (pregnant pigs).
- This gets the primary gathering acquainted with the sow so she can blend with the others in a couple of days with a diminished danger of tormenting.
- The sow will go onto heat inside a couple of long periods of being close to the pig. If she conceives then she will give birth to an offspring in 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days time. (112-115 days time).
- In the event that she doesn’t conceive, at that point, she will go onto heat again for 3 weeks.
- The sows are moved into their own individual enclosure a little while before conceiving an offspring so as to expand their nourishment consumption and for the sow to make their ‘home’ before conceiving an offspring.
- Dry sows and hogs are fed 2 – 3kg/day. The sows feed is expanded to 3.5kg/day while she is without anyone else to build the size of the unborn piglets.
- The normal number of piglets conceived per litter is 11.5 and every piglet will weigh around 1.2 kg.
- The sows nourishment is expanded by 500g/day as milk generation increments as the piglets develop rapidly.
- Following 3 weeks the piglets are huge enough to leave the ark and begin eating strong sustenance.
- Following 5 weeks, similarly, as they are going to be isolated, 11 piglets and the sow joined can be expending about 12kg feed.
- Weaners are piglets that have been isolated from their moms at around 5 weeks of age since they can eat enough strong nourishment to make due individually.
- They have sustained a high protein, little pelleted feed in a container in their arks. They are permitted to eat as much as they can so as to develop rapidly.
- At 5 weeks old, and gauging 8-9 kg they will eat 0.75-1kg/day however this will consistently increment as they get greater and their hunger increments.
- At 14 weeks old, and gauging 30-35 kg, they will eat 2.2kg/day. This will at that point be gradually limited back to 1.4kg/day to counteract them getting excessively fat and their eating regimen is changed to a lower protein, bigger pelleted feed.
- In the winter it will remain at 1.4kg, yet in an outrageous chilly climate, it might be expanded to 1.6kg/day.
- In the mid-year, this will be decreased further to 1.2kg/day as vitality necessities are lower.
- The purpose behind such exact nourishment cutoff points is that Berkshires put on fat much simpler than conventional crossover pigs.
- By constraining their nourishment they have less vitality accessible to develop fat stores.
- Straw used in a dry summer is 2 bales/day across the whole herd, but in wet weather can be as much as 20 bales.
- Plan to complete pigs inside 9 months, accomplishing a live weight of 80kg which creates a carcass of around 60kg.
Berkshire pig Temperament
- Pigs love eating a lot and they are omnivorous.
- They are clever and social animals.
- They love the human presence.
- Berkshire pigs being clever, can learn some tricks and commands.
- Due to the absence of sweat glands, they love to lie down in the water or mud.
- The sludge on their skin defends them against parasites.
- Pigs do use their nose a lot. They apply their nose to smell and find a potential meal.
The health of Berkshire Pig
- Berkshire pigs are sound and delicate breeds disregarding their vitality and agreeable nature.
- They are easily worried about inoculations, travel, new environment, and outrageous temperatures.
- Stress makes these breeds defenseless against afflictions, for example, bronchitis and pneumonia inferable from their little lungs.
- They are defenseless against creature infections, for example, flu, as well. These pigs regularly experience the ill effects of loose bowels and distraught tingle.
- The typical temperature of Berkshire pigs is 102.5F. Variations from the typical temperature and different signs of weakness, including coughing and looseness of the bowels, ought to dependably be brought to the notice of a veterinarian.
- The normal life expectancy of the Berkshire ranges from 6 years to 10 years.
Berkshire Pig farms
Chefs across the country prefer naturally raised meat. Now, most of the cooperative farms raise Berkshire on a small scale. A group of family farmers raises Berkshire hogs on pasture, that has access to freshwater, individual houses, and proper supplemental diet feed.
The Berkshire pigs with their families are left outdoor to forage in the pasture land. The small family farmers are strict with their commitments of no use of antibiotics and hormones on each farm. They go to the extent of limiting the number of hogs the farms raised based on their capacity.
The cooperative works in such a way that, they add another farmer to the cooperative before adding more pigs to any one farm. The cooperative farms demand a premium amount for their naturally and humanely raised meat.
This shows even the small farms can be profitable if they work as a cooperative, so that demand, supply, and quality of meat all be met.
History of Berkshire Pig
Berkshire pigs were the most favored meat in the USA due to their taste of meat, Berkshire hog was introduced to the USA during the early 1800s. The original Berkshire was sandy colored and huge. But later they were crossed with Siamese and Chinese blood, to make them more efficient.
During world war II, the market of lard was strong, but after the war, they were replaced by cheaper vegetable-based fats. There was a serious decline in Berkshire’s popularity following World war 2 due to the declining market for lard.
Also, the commercial pork industry started to boom. All they looked for the efficiency in meat production. For them, the Berkshires was not their first choice, due to their comparatively slow growth, not much lean meat and black body-color.
In 1875, a group of Berkshire breeders felt to keep Berkshire breed pure. They formed the American Berkshire Association. The American Berkshire Association society made it mandatory to register the Berkshire which was directly imported from established English herds, not from the one developed in the United States. The present breed is descended from these registered animals or from the stock later imported.
In 1877, the show ring Smithfield offered separate Berkshire classes and during the last 17 years of the 18th century, the Berkshire pigs produced 12 Smithfield champions, including pigs exhibited by members of the Royal Family.
During the past several years, the demand for Berkshire meat is improving. There is a consumer-driven demand for pork. Their taste is unmatched by any pork. The small scale producers now are getting a premium amount directly from buyers.
Chefs across the country will gladly pay more for quality meat, raised naturally, on pasture, and farmers are meeting the demand. Ranchers having a place with the affiliation can have their meat sold with a name that says “100% Pure Pork of Berkshire pig.” The program was built up and the American government affirmed in 2003.
Presently there are few pure breeds present in New zealand. Fewer than 100 purebred Berkshire pigs are found in New zealand and Australia.
Frequently asked questions
Why is Berkshire pork so good?
The meat quality of Berkshire tastes so good for their fine quality of pork which is heavily marbled. The meat flavor is increased due to the marbling feature and short muscle fibers. The tenderness and juicy in meat can be enhanced by free-ranging the Berkshires.
What is the Berkshire pig known for?
Berkshire pig is known for its tasty pork. The Meat is well muscled and tastes best when compared to other pork breeds. The quality of meat is known for its tender and juicy flavors.
The Berkshire pork is redder, sweeter, and consists of required fat for being more tender and succulent porky flavor.
Difference between Kurobuta and Berkshire meat
The Berkshire pigs in Japan are known as Kurobuta. In Japanese, the black pig is called “Kurobuta”. The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food have named the Berkshire breed as Kurobuta.
The Japanese have worked on Berkshire pig extensively to get a more juicy and tender pork breed. The American Berkshire is raised as per standards of the American Berkshire Association. Here the breed is not altered and kept as per standards of ABA. There is not Kurobuta registration in the United States.
Hello, I am Siddartha Reddy . A fulltime farmer and blogger who love to share all his farming experiences. Also, a strong supporter of sustainable farming practices. Thanks for visiting our site, let’s make this world a better place to live. Say No to Chemicals and plastics.