Berkshires are among Britain’s oldest breeds of pigs, with Parliamentarian troops quartered at Reading during the English Civil War reporting a locally bred pig noted for its size as well as the quality of its bacon and pork.
The early Berkshire was tawny with black spots, had pendulous ears, had a long, thick body and short legs, and was well boned.
The modern Berkshire was developed in the Wantage area from the 1790s, using Chinese or East Asian blood.
Today, the Berkshire is a medium-sized pig, with prick ears and black hair with white points on the trotters, snout and tip of the tail. The skin is white beneath the black hair.
Berkshires were exported to the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand in the early 1800s, with the breed surviving in those countries to this day.
The American Berkshire Association, formed in 1875, claims to be the first breeders group in the world.
In Japan, the breed is known as kurobuta and the gourmet pork produced from the Berkshire is famed for its meat marbling.
In Britain, the modern Berkshire is an early maturing, traditional pig noted for its first-class pork up to 65kg liveweight, although the meat is still of a very high quality to 80-90kg.
The Berkshire produces top quality pork in a relatively short time frame for a traditional breed.
A pair of weaners bought at 8-10 weeks will be ready for slaughter around 24 weeks, producing sufficient pork (two 36-45kg carcasses) for their keeper’s needs and a surplus to defray the costs.
At 28 weeks, when we slaughter our pigs, they produce a carcass of 56-60kg.
Typical feed consumption to take a porker to 24 weeks and 65kg liveweight is 215kg. (Source: Berkshire Pig Breeders Club.)
The Berkshire’s strong constitution makes them ideal for outdoor production systems in cold areas, with ours putting on condition down to -10C and maintaining condition to at least -15C.
The breed is adaptable, easily managed, and possesses an amiable temperament that is well suited to the smaller holding, croft or farm.
They are easily managed and contained by two-wire, temporary electric fencing, although a training period of a week is needed when first introducing the pigs to electric fences.
Sows are productive, heavy milkers that lead to high weaning weights and good food conversion in their offspring. They also lose little condition when rearing a litter.
Details of our pedigree Berkshires can be found in the British Pig Association’s herd book. Click on the breed code BK and type our herd identifier (JDY) into the owner box.
Our registered breeding stock are:
- Styberry Mermaid 59 (date of birth, 20 June 2005)
- Styberry Mermaid 61 (DoB, 20 June 2005)
- Lammermuir Namatjira 2 (DoB, 27 July 2005)
- Dittisham Suzanne (DoB, 1 February 2006)
- Stonehead Ambassador 38 (DoB, 2 January 2008 , on loan at present)
- Stonehead Suzanne 40 (DoB, 2 January 2008 )
Details of birth-notified Berkshire weaners that may be for sale can be found on the BPA’s pig search page. (Set the breed to Berkshire, the region to Scotland, the county to none and the age range to “weaners 0-14 weeks”.)
NOTE: Birth-notified pigs are the off-spring of pedigree sires and dams registered in the herd book. They are intended for finishing for pork, bacon and ham. They are not intended for pedigree breeding but their meat is eligible to be marketed as Pedigree Pork. Registered pigs are listed in the breed herd books and are intended for pedigree breeding.
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Pigs available for sale
- We supply birth-notified Berkshire weaners bred from pedigree sires and dams, registered with the British Pig Association.
- Weaners are available for collection at 10 weeks old.
- Piglets are weaned at 8-9 weeks, so are entirely on solid feeds for 7-14 days before collection.
- Weaners are wormed 3-5 days before collection.
- Weaners are sold with a guide to caring for them, plus sufficient feed to change to the new owner’s feed over 3-4 days.
- Weaners can be delivered to the Aberdeen Ferry Terminal for transport to Shetland and Orkney.
- Visits and inspections welcome.
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