The Berkshire swine traces back to over 300 years ago, with importation to the United States happening around 1823.
“Three hundred years ago – so legend has it – the Berkshire hog was discovered by Oliver Cromwell’s army, in winter quarters at Reading, the county seat of the shire of Berks in England. After the war, these veterans carried the news to the outside world of the wonderful hogs of Berks; larger than any other swine of that time and producing hams and bacon of rare quality and flavor. This is said to have been the beginning of the fame of the Reading Fair as a market place for pork products.
This original Berkshire was a reddish or sandy colored hog, sometimes spotted. This would account for the sandy hair still sometimes seen in the white areas of some modern Berkshires. Later this basic stock was refined with a cross of Siamese and Chinese blood, bringing the color pattern we see today along with the quality of more efficient gains. This was the only outside blood that has gone into the Berkshire breed within the time of recorded livestock history. For 200 years now the Berkshire bloodstream has been pure, as far as the records are known today.” Source Credit, the Oklahoma State Agricultural Department.
We have selected the Berkshire for our farm for the rich meat and characteristics of this breed. They are good foragers, have a strong heritage / lineage and predictable growth as differentiated from the common hog.
Our line of Berkshires is coming from another local breeder, who we are working with to establish our first boar and sow pairings. In our first year, we experimented with a couple of breeds, including a Berkshire cross and a Landrace, and going forward our intention at this point is to focus on Berkshire, and potentially add one additional breed that might focus more on bacon production or be otherwise differentiated. All of this is part of our learning process and we have learned there is so very much to learn!