Berkshires are a very desirable breed for growing on a small family farm. They are friendly, curious, good mothers, and very hardy. They are black with white markings on the face and “stocking legs," with white tips on the tail. Their black coat protects them from sunburn. They do best when allowed to forage in a nice piece of pasture.
"Berkshire pork widely accepted to be the best tasting pork in the
Berkshire pigs are known to be one of the oldest breeds of swine. Originating more than 300 years ago from the county of Berkshire, England, they were imported in the mid 1800’s from descendants of the monarch’s herd. The American Berkshire Association (ABA) has been in existence since 1875 to ensure that the breed is kept pure and intact.
Berkshires were at first enthusiastically welcomed in the States for their exceptional taste, ample fat content and large size, but things changed after World War II. Lard was no longer coveted, and pork production shifted from the small farm to large factory operations. Berkshires are slow growing and they do not do well in confinement, so the breed became undesirable. Even in 2008 there were only about 300 purebred breeding sows, classifying Berkshires as a “rare and vulnerable breed.” Luckily the trend is reversing as Americans are once again appreciating the superior taste, the humane treatment of animals, and better stewardship of the land.