Acquired: Breeder (non-professional, hobby breeder)
By Phin Hall
Posted Jan 20, 2013
These pigs look like they have run into a wall. At speed. Many times! But despite their looks (which apparently some people are quite fond of) they have many redeeming features.
For example, though they are a prick-eared breed, which normally makes them more adventurous and prone to escape than flop-eared pigs, this seems not to be the case with Berkshires. Unlike the notorious Tamworths (the ‘Houdini’s of the pig world) Berkshires are very easy to train to an electric wire and show it great respect.
I live in a semi-detached house in a built up area of an English town, and these are the only pigs I have ever dared keep on my driveway. Even when they become big, boisterous six-month olds, my Berkshires have never even attempted to break out of their pen, which is for the best as my neighbours would not be delighted to find them rooting up their lawns.
As with all pigs they are surprisingly easy to keep - give them a warm place to sleep, the right amount of food and water, a patch of ground to dig up and they are happy as pigs in… a happy place.
But also, like other pigs, Berkshires are not really ‘pets’ - they are a source of meat. And excellent meat at that! Though I have elsewhere extolled the virtues of British Saddleback meat, Berkshires have the edge on them.
Like most rare breeds, they are covered in bristly hair, which not all abattoirs are happy with (just ignore their whining), and while they are not as long as Saddlebacks, Berkshires grow at a fairly decent rate, reaching around 55-60kg by six months (live weight). Be careful though, when they get to this age they are very strong, and love to trip you up in their pen if they can! When they start making you nervous, it’s time to take them for their final journey, and while it is hard to say goodbye to such friendly, if ugly, pigs, the stack of delicious meat you get back helps to ease the pain!