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5 Best Types of Pigs for Meat

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Raising pigs for meat is one of the most profitable farming ventures, provided you do it right.

With the right management, pigs grow quickly and gain a lot of weight in a short period, which is the whole point of raising pigs for meat.  

But which are the best pig breeds for meat production? Can you just pick any breed and raise it for meat production?

Absolutely, not!

There are only a few pig breeds that excel in meat production, and this post discusses the best five.

1. Berkshire

Group of Berkshire pigs in the pig pen

The best pig for meat doesn’t get better than Berkshire pigs, especially for beginner pig farmers. As the name suggests, this breed originates from the Berkshire region of England. It is among the oldest breeds in England and might be one of the oldest in this list too.

Aside from their characteristic black color, Berkshires are also easily identifiable by their white marks on different parts of the body. A true Berkshire has six areas of white on the body:

  • All four feet
  • Head
  • Tail

Similarly, the breed can also be recognized by their pointy ears and firm build. What’s more, they also have medium-sized bodies and uniform, deep-sided muscular backs.

Berkshires are a popular breed among pig farmers because they are easy to raise due to their calm demeanor. This has earned them the fancy nickname “Lady’s pig.

Besides their easy-going personality, Berkshire pigs have also gained popularity for their unique flavored pork. It stands out for its marbled design which guarantees the perfect distribution of fat within the muscles.

This gives the meat a distinct flavor while ensuring it remains juicy and tender through every bite. But because of its fat content, Berkshire pork needs to be cooked for a long time at a high temperature to extract all its flavors.

Moreover, Berkshire pork has a higher pH than meat from other pigs. This gives the meat a signature darker color and flavorful taste.

Berkshire hogs reach a slaughter weight of 250 pounds (113 kilograms) in between 180 and 195 days, gaining about 1.35 pounds (0.6 kilograms) per day!

Full grown weight400-600 pounds (181-272 kilograms)
Butcher weight250 pounds (113 kilograms)
Time to reach butcher weight6-7 months

2. Duroc

Duroc pigs grazing on meadow

Originating in North America, the Duroc is another popular pig breed that is farmed for its delectable meat. This is because Duroc pigs grow fast and produce lean meat since most of their meat is stored in the muscles. At maturity, they can reach up to 800 pounds (362 kilograms)!

Duroc pigs have a distinct red color that ranges from chestnut red to rusty red. And they have thick hair that makes them well-adapted to lower temperatures.

Unlike Berkshire pigs, which are characterized by their pointy ears, Durocs have drooping ears that give them a cute face.

These red hogs are exceptionally hardy and are well-known for their longevity. They also produce delicious meat, which includes bacon, pork chops, and more. In addition, the meat is also tender thanks to their foraging diet, hay, and vegetables.

Durocs are less aggressive compared to other pig breeds, with their calm temperament making them a favorite for many pig farmers. They are also excellent at mothering with the average litter number being 10 piglets at a time.

Duroc hogs reach a butcher weight of between 220 and 250 pounds (99 and 113 kilograms) after about 6 to 7 months.

Full grown weight700-800 pounds (317-362 kilograms)
Butcher weight220-250 pounds (99-113 kilograms)
Time to reach butcher weight6-7 months

3. Yorkshire

Large white Yorkshire pig standing on straw in pen with grass on farm

Also known as the English Large White, the Yorkshire is a popular pig breed that also originated in England. However, the breed has been farmed extensively in the US such that it has been recognized as an American domestic breed.

Yorkshire pigs are excellent meat producers and popular with pig farmers.

When slaughtered, the pigs produce a large amount of meat on the carcass with very little back fat. Its flesh is generally white in color, thus making the breed suitable for making bacon.

Besides their light skin appearance, Yorkshire pigs have short, thick necks and large pointy ears. Their back is straight, and they have a rounded, dense belly.

Being light-skinned, Yorkshire pigs are susceptible to sunburn. To prevent this from happening, they should be kept under the shade during the day.

Keep in mind that this breed also suffers more diseases than other pig breeds. As such, they need special care to lead a healthy and productive life.

Some of the diseases a Yorkshire pig may suffer in their lifetime include:

  • Beriberi
  • Rickets
  • Erysipelas

That said, Yorkshire pigs are very productive when given the right care. They also produce a large litters and pass their traits to their offspring. This makes the breed an excellent choice for farmers who want crossbreeds.

At six months, a Yorkshire pig weighs 280 pounds (127 kilograms) and is ready for the market or slaughter. At the finish phase, the pigs consume 6 to 10 pounds (2.7 to 4.5 kilograms) of feed per day. So, ensure you have enough feed for your Yorkshires if you want them to attain a good slaughter weight.

Full grown weight550-750 pounds (249-340 kilograms)
Butcher weight280 pounds (127 kilograms)
Time to reach butcher weight6 months

4. Hampshire

Two hampshire pigs at the farm

Hampshire is another pig breed that’s in high demand for meat production. This well-muscled pig breed originated in England and is named after a region in the UK.

Hampshire pigs are known for the white belt that circles their black bodies just behind the shoulder. The belt is narrow on some pigs and wide on others, but it always circles the hog completely.

Hampshire hogs grow more slowly compared to other pig breeds on this list. However, they produce high-quality lean meat, which is in high demand. Their ability to produce lean carcasses has made Hampshire pigs a top choice as sire breeds.

Besides their excellent meat quality, Hampshire pigs are also desired for their exceptional mothering capabilities. Hampshire pigs have excellent mothering abilities, making them the best breed for confined breeding.

Hampshires can get quite big, with mature males tipping the scales at 650 pounds (294 kilograms). However, many farmers choose to slaughter them at around 250 pounds (113 kilograms) to keep the meat lean without too much fat.

Full grown weight650 pounds (294 kilograms)
Butcher weight250 pounds (113 kilograms)
Time to reach butcher weight6-8 months

5. Chester White

White pigs relaxing in the farm

The last pig on our best types of pigs for meat list is the Chester White Pig. Previously known as Chester Country White pigs, this pig breed has a predominantly white color, with only small spots of other colors permissible.

The Chester White pig breed is hardy and desired for its mothering abilities. Oftentimes, they are crossbred with other breeds to pass on their excellent mothering abilities to their offspring.

While their meat is not admired as much as that of Berkshire, Duroc, and Yorkshire, Chester White pigs are preferred for their fast growth rate, which makes them reasonable meat producers.

Like other light-skinned pig breeds, Chester White hogs are sensitive to direct sunlight and must be kept in a shade to prevent sunburn.

A mature adult boar can weigh up to 650 pounds (294 kilograms), but the hogs are usually slaughtered when they reach a market weight of between 240-270 pounds (108-122 kilograms) after about 7 months.

Full grown weight650 pounds (294 kilograms)
Butcher weight240-270 pounds (108-122 kilograms)
Time to reach butcher weight7 months

Final Thoughts

If the time has come for you to add pigs to your homestead, you’d be wise to pick any of the breeds listed above for meat production. These pig breeds produce high-quality meat and command a great price for their cuts.

Overall, your choice of breed will be determined by your desired end goal. If you want to produce lean meat for sale, you should get Duroc pigs. If you want to raise white meat for bacon, you should go for the Yorkshire breed.

And don’t forget, it’s okay to cross different breeds to create more prolific pigs.