You won’t believe pigs are the most populous animals in the world, and there are currently over 1 million pigs across the globe. They possess the same biological characteristics as humans and thus, are often used for medical research and domestication.
When defining a typical pig, there are various breeds that differ in size, colors, maturity duration, meat yield, and other factors. But for newbies who want to kick-start raising pigs on their farm, you have to consider your requirement before deciding on any one breed. While, there are also other factors, like living conditions and availability of resources that impact their growth and development of pigs.
As a matter of fact, the basic reason why pigs are popular and known worldwide is the massive consumption of their meat, pork. Various food products, including bacon, ham, sausage, gammon, are obtained from pigs. Domestic pigs are mostly grown in yards or fields, also allowed to forage in the woods.
The United States has switched from traditional to large scale intensive pig farms. With low maintenance and high intelligence, they make excellent pets.
Apart from this, you might need to spend a little on equipment and building a farm for them. But pig farming has a unique potential to enrich the weaker section of society, making them healthy and economically strong.
9 Largest Pig Breeds
The following is a brief list of the few largest pig breeds, their characteristics, lifespan, the good points, and the bad.
1. American Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a large breed and white in color. Yorkshire is recognized for their long and steep ears, and nose slightly turned upward. A mature male pig can weigh around 771-837 lbs, while a female could only be around 573-661 lbs.
Yorkshire is considered a bacon breed due to their excellent meat producing ability. It has a high percentage of lean meat on the carcass, and the back-fat amount is low.
These pigs are naturally innocuous and have excellent mothering skills. Farmers are mostly gratified with this breed because of their easy adapting behavior.
- They need minimal maintenance and care.
- They are fond of humans and thus become very adorable pets.
- They socialize easily with other animals.
- If not correctly trained right from their birth, they become stubborn and aggressive.
In 1895, the ancestors of Landrace pigs were first originated and were named Danish Landrace. The Landrace breed was basically developed when a massive white hog was carried from England and crossbred with a domestic pig.
Their main feature is a long structure and has large ears near its face. Almost 16-17 pairs of ribs are present in their body and a flat-shaped back.
Landrace pigs are medium to large where grown male average weight is 500-700 pounds, and female is 450-600 pounds.
- They are known as heavy milk producers
- Landraces are easy to train for their loving nature.
- These pigs are stinky and live in mud and dirt.
- Behaves a bit rough when someone gets into their fence.
Hampshire is best known for its quality meat with a unique flavor and undoubtedly makes it tender and sapful.
This breed was initially brought to the United States from England in the mid-1820s and 1840s.
Hampshire is different from others because of their dark skin with a white-colored band covering the front legs. Their ears are erected, and large and noses are longer so their legs.
- Sustain easily in extreme climatic conditions.
- Healthier than the breeds, which grow faster.
- They grow quickly in contrast to other heritage pig
- It requires a massive management system and regular care and maintenance.
Among domestic pigs, Duroc is one of the oldest and largest pig breeds. Despite many theories, their origin is still unclear. Yet, being very smart and emotional, they are perfect for domestication.
Their red or brown color makes them stand out from other pig breeds. Medium-sized Duroc has a moderately long back and a muscular body.
They are also known for their faster maturation when fed with a nutritious and mineral-rich diet, and they also have a great understanding of smell. The average weight for a male is about 400 kg, while females are about 350 kg. One major drawback of these pigs is that they can become pretty aggressive if they are not accustomed to socializing from an initial age.
- Their smarty heads and are very emotional individuals aware of both negative and positive emotions.
- Duroc prefers to stay neat and clean.
- They also make good pets.
- Can adapt aggressiveness while interacting with other animals or humans.
Also Read: 9 Cold Hardy Pig Breeds for Chilly Climates
Berkshire pigs are rare and often hard to find and are listed as one of the most dangerous pig breeds. A well-known trust, Rare breed Survival Trust, still fosters the Berkshire pig breed.
They were initially not black but sandy brown, with few white spots on feet, tail, and nose. Their face has a dish-shaped texture with a more prominent jaw. An adult male’s average weight could be about 600 lb, and a female could only 396 lb.
- They can be domesticated at home due to their clean lifestyle.
- Their genetic purity is transferred to the new-born, making them purebred.
- They have weak immunity, which causes common health diseases.
Back in 1812, Tamworth was crossbred with Irish grazers known as Irish pigs. Sir Robert Peel’s Drayton Manor Estate originated this tamed breed of pigs.
Their colors range from a gingery to mahogany red. Bodies are naturally long and narrow, and a healthy one has a rectangular-shaped snout. Regardless of gender, they can reach a height of about 52 to 65 cm.
- Tamworth pigs are tough, independent, and don’t need much supervision when left outdoors.
- They are capable of sensing sadness from other animals or their human owners.
- They are naturally great at foraging.
- When bored, they can become very hostile and can damage anything that comes their way.
If you are looking for a combo of fertile and largest pig breeds, Meishan is the perfect breed. It can give birth to 15 to 16 liters per season. It was imported by USDA agricultural research service to the U.S. in the late 1980s due to its fecundity.
Native to Southern China, these pigs were named after the Chinese territory of Meishan. Early maturity of both sows and boars makes them the most productive pig breed in the world.
Mainly found in black color has drooping ears. But it is known for its wrinkled face and skin. With a high dressing percentage as high as 66.8%, they have a back-fat thickness of 2.5cm.
- Meishan is not picky eaters.
- They are very efficient with babies; accidents rarely happen with them.
- They are the peaceful ones and have never harmed others.
- This pig breed is not as active as other breeds.
Also Read: 8 Best Pig Breeds for Meat
8. Poland China
Developed in 1816, this pig is the most popular meat breed in South America. With a record weight of 1157 kgs, they are one of the world’s largest pig breeds ever.
An exceptionally calm and obedient Poland China pigs are excellent feeders. Delicious bacon, sausages, hams, and pork chops are the reason why they are primarily raised at the farm.
- Being very quiet and calm nature-wise, they are the perfect pet material breed.
- Their feet and legs are very sound because of the substantial bone they have.
- This breed grows pretty quickly and also has a good feed to meat conversion ratios.
- They are also easy to raise.
- Poland China tends to overlay some pigs soon after farrowing.
- They can be a bad mother.
Several years ago, around the 1980s, Kunekune was an endangered species because of crossbreeding. The Kunekune were adopted by the Maori people hence also known as “Maori pig.” They probably came from an Asian domestic breed.
They almost look as suggested by their name, Kunekune, meaning round and fat. They are a small breed, have short legs, and have twin wattles under their chin.
An average pig grows up to 24 inches in height and weighs about 60 to 200 kg. They are always covered in hair enough to make them warm. Their ears are generally semi looped and forward inclined.
- Most people want to get their hands on them because it’s small, cute, and great in behavior.
- Being cleanliness freak, they even assign their toilet away from their living space in a corner to avoid spoiling their comfort zone.
- They make a great companion with cats and dogs.
- Due to their small appearance, they cannot defend or protect themselves from potential attackers.
- If left exposed, they can get themselves infested by leapers.
Also Read: 9 Awesome Toys for Your Pet Pig
If you are looking for an animal perfect for domestication purposes and loyal in the same breed. Then must consider Mangalica, they are similar to sheep look-wise and are as dedicated as dogs. They are unique and equally adorable. Their thick wool is what makes them stand out of other largest pig breeds.
This rare Hungarian breed may differ a bit in terms of colors. Head shaped as U that is neither too big nor small. The average weight for the male adult ranges from 68kg-77kg, whereas female adults from 64kg-73kg.
- They are also known as prey animals because of such intelligence.
- If tamed reasonably, they can behave like dogs.
- Mangalica loves to be with humans due to their fondness towards them.
- Their meat is flavourful and high in Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Being non-picky eaters, they eat almost everything, including junk food, scrap food, decaying carcasses, which infect their system.
11. Guinea Hogs
Despite their small physique, they are commended by farmers for their excellent skills. Don’t confuse them with Guinea pigs; they are basically hogs.
Improved Essex, which is now an extinct breed of pig, resembles Guinea hogs. Guinea hogs are generally tiny and have a square-like appearance due to their upright, slightly arched flat back.
Being independent, they prefer to grow and nourish themselves on their own. Guinea hogs come in various colors for rare case streaks of red hair. Their height varies from 46 inches to 56 inches.
- In terms of personality, they are very well balanced.
- Hogs mostly learners to enhance their smartness by confusing their predators and taking advantage of the same.
- They clean rodents and other dangerous reptiles like snakes, which is their common enemy, by eating them.
- Guinea Hogs require large space while growing.
- It takes a long time to mature.
We know it’s a lot of information at once, so first, you need to figure out the purpose of why you are looking for cold hardy pig breeds.
Is it for meat or eggs or both? Or do you want one simply as a home pet? Or are you planning for a commercial purpose?
We have highlighted the largest pig breeds in this article, so you know which one goes for your requirement.
Whether you are looking for the largest pig breeds or even smaller and younger pig breeds, always remember to check for one that has comfortable and low maintenance, gentle temperament, and good meat yield.