Other common names: Chester County White
The Chester White pig was developed in Chester County, Pennsylvania in the early 1800s. They are descendants of the crossing of the white English Cumberland with intermingled breeds of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire previously imported to the U.S..
Appearance / health:
Chester Whites are medium-sized pigs that are all white in color. The ears are droopy or lopped. They are regarded as the most durable white breed and the earliest to mature, carrying large litters.
Despite their energy and gregarious nature, pigs are sensitive animals. They are easily stressed by travel, vaccinations, extreme temperatures, and new surroundings. Stress makes them susceptible to ailments like pneumonia and bronchitis (due also to their small lungs relative to their size). They are also susceptible to animal viruses like influenza. Pigs commonly suffer from mad itch (or pseudo rabies), dysentery, and parasites (lice, ticks, and ascarid worms).
Healthy pigs have shiny hair, bright eyes, strong appetites, and high energy. Their normal temperature is 102.5F. Deviations from the normal temperature and other signs of poor health including diarrhea and coughing should promptly be brought to the attention of a veterinarian.
Behavior / temperament:
As omnivores that love to eat, pigs can be fun to watch while they explore their surroundings in search for something to munch on. They use their snouts to smell and unearth a potential meal. They are intelligent and social animals that quickly get used to the presence and affection of humans.
Some pigs are intelligent enough to learn tricks, obey commands, and use a litter box. Because they have no sweat glands, they tend to cool themselves by rolling in water or mud. The mud that dries on their skin serves as a sunscreen and protection from parasites like ticks, lice, and flies.
Chester White boars are notorious for being aggressive.
Housing / diet:
Pigs are active, curious animals that require room to explore, exercise, and just be their natural energetic selves. Sufficient space, relative to their size and weight, is a primary consideration because pigs that are crowded or confined to small spaces become stressed, and healthy growth and development is hindered.
Although constantly roaming and appreciative of open yards and fresh air, pigs also require a shed or housing that will let them sleep on a dry and clean area at night. Ideal ambient temperatures are 60-70F. Warm shelters with wood chip bedding are a must during cold months; water misters are recommended for the hottest months.
Pig housing should also include a feeder and a drinking water dispenser (usually a water barrel). Access to a water source makes it convenient to clean or hose out the pig shelters (and the pigs) as needed. Chain link fencing, shade trees, and a pond are recommended for backyard habitats.
Pig owners are advised to check with local authorities for legislation regarding the ownership and keeping of pigs in their homes and backyards.
As omnivores that eat plants and animals, pigs will consume almost anything that is edible like fruits, roots, flowers, grass, insects, worms, all types of meat, and even leftover scraps from the dinner table.
Unlike ruminant animals (cattle and goats), pigs have a single stomach. For healthy and fast growth, pigs require a high-energy diet composed of grain (corn, oats, wheat, barley), plus protein and vitamin supplements. Most commercially available feed for pigs combine various farm grains and the necessary supplements to ensure rapid and efficient development.
Pigs are best allowed to self-feed or eat as much as they want during the day to enable them to grow as fast as they normally can. Feeding should always include a good supply of clean, fresh drinking water.
excellent meat, good maternal breed., sweet hog, great starter hog, great market quality
kitchen scrap, wellshaded pen, garbage feeds, school FFA department
My two cents on Chester Whites
My experience at Swine Genetics International exposed me to several breeds of pigs. Admittedly if they made it there they were most typically something special, so keep in mind that I was working with the creme of the crop. Saying this I believe that you will find good individuals in most breeds if you look long enough. The definition of a good animal often lies within the match up of the individual with their given purpose. My experience is somewhat limited with Chester Whites so I can't speak for the breed as a whole, but I can talk about the boars that I did work with.
I worked with about 4 Chester White boars in my time at SGI. They were all quality animals, although there was one that I was not a particular fan, as he was the only one that hadn't came from one particular farm, and he was somewhat stiff on his rear end. The other 3 boars were exceptional. They had some longevity to them, where well muscled, and had some growth to them. They were very commercially oriented boars that had a good look and great structure to them. One of the boars, Mothermaker was very easy going boar and I was particularly fond of him.
I am sure they are gone now from SGI, but I would certainly recommend their type. As with any breed it is mostly about finding a breeder that produces the type that you like, geared for your purpose.
As an interesting side note, in tracing my family's genealogy, Daniel McPherson came to America from Scotland and after serving a term as an indentured servant purchased a farm and settled in Chester County, Pennsylvania where the breed was developed. I am not aware of any connection to the development of the breed, but it is likely that I had family in the area at the time of their development..
From shmac84 Mar 8 2013 3:33PM
Great Meat, Have Some Special Needs
I raised a set of chesters years back for several buyers, and they did well on a variety of grain and garbage feeds that we were able to source out. They grew well and finished well, even though for processing issues (available slots) they did face some temperature variations and cold.
I wouldn't say these are not a hearty pig, because all in all I didn't really have issues with them, but they are very light skinned (white, really) and so are very susceptible to sun burn. This wasn't too much of an issue for me because I had a well-shaded pen, but it's something to consider depending on your available space. I also think they liked the mud more than other pigs, probably as a defense against the sun. As long as you can overcome their minor special needs, these pigs won't disappoint. In terms of access to piglets, I find them less common and others just more available, so they're not a breed we tend to grow often..
From MaryW Jul 28 2014 7:32AM
Dances with Pigs
I raised pigs once when I was in middle school and my parents were getting into homesteading. We bought them from a local farmer who supplied pigs and goats to the local 4-H groups. I wasn’t in 4-H, our main interest was raising them for meat, and they had excellent meat quality. We made sure they had a variety of food from over ripe garden stock, kitchen scrap, wilted veggies the local supermarket was going to toss, and roots and weeds when we let them into the pasture to forage. The main bulk of their diet was a corn scratch fermented in goat milk overnight. They really liked that and went after it like candy. The only foods they refused were bananas and limes. We also fed them eggs when we had an overabundance, so not much went to waste with them around.
Shortly after we bought them we had a heavy tick infestation. We didn’t want to put chemical mixtures on them to get rid of the ticks, so my Mom mixed vegetable oil with oil of eucalyptus in a spray bottle. The pigs hated the sharp smell and it was not easy getting them to stand still. A lot of the mixture ended up on all the humans involved, but the ticks were completely gone by the next day. We also had a problem with tapeworms, but we crushed up mesquite charcoal and gave it to them in their feed. The tapeworms disappeared.
My dad built a pen outside the regular barn for them with a short shelter and enough room to root around and forage away from the goats. We tossed in loose hay for their bedding and ran a hose daily to clean out their water trough. We didn’t do any work with them as far as training. At the time training was focussed on the horse and the goats while the pigs were going to be for food. They were pretty laid back for the most part. Every morning when we showed up with scrap, the pigs would hop and jump and run around their pen doing their ‘pig dance’ in anticipation for the goodies. After that they rooted around in the dirt, rolled in the mud, and sunned themselves. The day we were scheduled to take them to the processor was trying. Because we never worked with them, loading four fully grown hogs into a trailer was a challenge. We had to dismantle part of their fence to create a chute, but the ground in the pen was so churned up it was hard to balance and herd pigs into the trailer at the same time. That job fell to my dad, since he was the biggest and strongest, and the pigs weren’t having any of it. He probably spent about two hours with them in that mess, at one point one of the pigs actually reared up on its back legs to avoid the trailer. From my vantage point it looked like they were about to waltz, so that day is now the day Dad danced with the pigs. He has yet to see the hilarity in it.
I’m glad I got the chance to raise pigs, but I wouldn’t do it again. While fun as piglets, the bigger hogs were hard to move and handle, and the smell wasn’t easy for me to deal with. The meat was excellent, though, as the fermented corn added a sweet flavor and the hams were to die for that Christmas. Plus they were great at putting extra surplus from the homestead to use. If you really want to get into pigs, have a good enclosure first and make sure they can’t squeeze through the fences. We had to reinforce the pig panels on the pen as they grew bigger; they took to leaning and scratching against them, which warped the panels and made them useless for future fences. Pigs also require a lot of water so they can have mud to wallow in. The mud protects their skin from the sun and the flies, and provides a means of cooling down when temperatures spike. I would also set time aside to work with them, get them used to being handled and led into a trailer whether you want to process them later or in case you need to transport them to a vet..
From ShilohOhmes Mar 17 2015 1:16PM