Sure you love bacon and pork chops, but just what type of pig is this meat coming from? Heritage pigs are a way back to nature and more farmers are choosing these types of breeds.
Heritage breed pigs: Heritage breeds exist in all types of farm animals. With pigs, heritage breeds refer to older breeds that have existed for centuries. These animals have evolved to be hardy, resistant to viruses, and produce meat that is extremely flavorful. Unfortunately, most pork sold in a grocery store comes from factory-raised pigs. If you want to find pork from heritage breeds, you will need to source it from local farmers. There are also online retailers that will ship their heritage pork. Overall, you can expect meat that is slightly fattier but with this comes a lot more flavor.
What does heritage breed of pig mean?
In a word, heritage means old. Heritage pigs are certain breeds that can trace their lineage back through centuries of time.
They are in contrast to newer breeds, many of which are hybrid breeds, that have been produced for specific characteristics.
While factory-raised pigs may be able to produce higher quantities of meat, heritage pigs usually have a better taste for them. They exist because of what nature intended, and there is now a surge to return to more traditional farming methods.
The Benefits of Raising Heritage Breeds
Heritage pigs are given a varied diet and some of that may be yummy treats like fruit. In addition, they can roam as they like and are given more freedoms.
All this contributes to slightly fattier meat. With more fat comes more flavor.
Even though there has been a push for leaner meat, some fat is necessary for meat, as this marbling between muscle tissues cooks down and then embeds the rest of the meat with flavor.
With heritage breeds, come certain genetic variations. Pigs are still bred within their specific breed, but there is more movement.
As a result, heritage breeds have created a natural tolerance to many illnesses. They are hardier, adaptable, and one virus won’t wipe out an entire population.
Because heritage breeds remain outside, they are able to develop stronger immune systems. Just as we should encourage our children to be outside and get dirty in order to stay healthy, the same is true for pigs.
Unlike pink pigs and other factory pigs, heritage breeds have not been altered and thus are better able to survive on a regular farm. Factory pigs spend most of their life inside a structure and so don’t have to worry about changes in climate or temperature.
Most hobby farmers will house their pigs in a small barn or enclosure but expect their pigs to be outside most of the time. As a result, heritage breeds have thicker coats and skin so that they can withstand rain, snow, and cold temperatures.
Different Heritage Pig Breeds
One of the oldest British breeds of pigs, Berkshires are very popular. They have a deep black color although their hooves, face, and tail are marked with white.
One benefit of Berkshire pigs is that they mature early. This is good both for breeding and meat production.
Local chefs love having Berkshire pigs in their area as the meat is particularly tender and flavorful.
Developed in the United States in the 1920s, Hereford pigs are a mix of Duroc and Poland China pigs. They are large pigs, with male pigs reaching 800 pounds and females 600 pounds.
Hereford pigs have a reddish-brown coloring to them and they have drooping ears. Unfortunately, while this was once one of the most popular breeds in the United States, their numbers are now in decline.
Unlike other heritage pigs with European backgrounds, Duroc pigs actually hail from the United States. Still, they are old enough to be considered a heritage breed.
Duroc pigs have a reddish-brown color to them and are medium-sized. They have ears that partially droop.
In addition to their flavorful meat, Duroc pigs are well known for their calm demeanors. They also grow quickly.
An older British breed, British Saddleback pigs are a cross between Wessex and Essex breeds. They are black in color but have a thick, white band that runs across the shoulders.
British Saddleback pigs are especially known for their mothering instincts and breeding always goes well. They are excellent at grazing which is perfect if you have the land for them.
With its descendants being the wild boar, Tamworth pigs have come a long way and are now versatile pigs, especially when it comes to meat products such as bacon.
Tamworth pigs are medium-sized and have red skin and hair. Their snouts are straight and they have prick ears.
If you live in a colder climate, Tamworth pigs are a good choice as they are nice and hardy. They also like pasture, so you are able to let them out in a grassy area for most of their diet.
Really, the name says it all. Large Black pigs are both large and black and come from England. They also go by the names of Devon and Cornwall pigs.
Large Black pigs have long bodies and are great for meat production, especially bacon. What really makes them stand out is that they are extremely hardy.
These pigs are used to rougher conditions, so they are a good choice if you live in a colder climate. Furthermore, their skin is darker in color, which means they won’t be sunburnt easy, which is a consideration for most pigs.
Why is heritage breed pork better?
Overall, heritage breeds have better pork because it is more flavorful. These pigs have a more natural, varied diet, and they are fattier than commercial pigs.
When it comes to the food we eat, it’s important to know where it comes from. With heritage breeds of pigs, you can be assured that your pork tastes how nature intended.