Pig: Breeds

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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The Iberian pig mentioned above is an interesting example of an ancient breed (perhaps descended from the original Mediterranean wild boar) which has survived into modern time and is prized for its characteristics.
The origins of breeds of pig further north in Europe are less clear, and few can claim great antiquity. In 18th-century Britain, pigs, like other domestic livestock, attracted the attentions of agricultural improvers. Two distinct types of pig existed at that time: a small foraging type, principally found in Scotland, and a larger, lop-eared English type which had developed into several breeds. These shared the general characteristics of being long in the leg and body, covered in wiry hair, and slow to fatten; similar pigs roamed in France and Germany, still kept at pannage with a swineherd. For crossing with English stock, the Neapolitan pig from Italy, dark, almost hairless, and swift to fatten, and the Chinese pig, which was small, quick maturing, and light boned, were used.