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Berkshire - Pig
UsesPrime pork, exhibition
OriginTodays black and white Berkshire probably originates around Wantage in Oxfordshire.
ClassPrick eared, Medium length, early maturing, Porker
ColourBlack, with white on the face, white feet and a white tip to the tail
ParentageThe original Berkshire pig of varying quality, mated with one or more of the Chinese, Siamese or Neopolitan pig breeds.
MaleAmbassador, Freight Train, Lassiter, Nama Abel, Namatjira, Orlando, Peter Lad.
FemaleExcelsa, Farewell, Lady, Louise, Mermaid, Royal Lustre, Royal Sapphire, Stonebow, Suzanne.
The Berkshire Pig Breeders Club
The Berkshire was the first British breed to be brought up to a high standard of perfection. Up to 1790 the pig was large and black, black and white or reddish-brown with black spots. Described at the time by Richardson as being ‘Long and crooked-snouted, the muzzle turning upwards. The ears were large, heavy and inclined to be pendulous; the body long and thick, but not deep’. From around this time the Chinese or Siamese pigs were mated with these Berkshire’s to create an early maturing shorter bodied pig set higher on the legs. The majority of this early improvement was carried out after 1790 in Leicestershire and Staffordshire. The resulting pigs were of a reddish-brown colour with brown or black spots. Whether the Tamworth was involved, is unknown. Prior to or at the same time to this improvement Lord Barrington until his death in 1829 was a key figure in the improvement of the Berkshire. It is not known which of the Chinese, Siamese or Neopolitan breeds were used to improve the Berkshire, although it was certainly one of them that created the black pig with white tips that we know today. The new Berkshire became a very popular breed and was widely exported from the late 18th, becoming influential in the creation of foreign pig breeds.
The Berkshire is predominantly black with white socks on each foot, white on the face and a white tip to the tail. Despite being mainly black, the carcass dresses out completely white. The back is long and level and the belly has a straight underline with at least 12 teats.
When a boar or sow is crossed with any white breed the offspring are all white.
The herd-book was established in 1884.