Pigs can be farm-raised on a commercial scale for profit, in smaller herds to provide fresh, homegrown meat for your family, or to be shown and judged at county fairs or livestock shows. Characterized by their stout bodies, short legs, snouts, hooves, and thick, bristle-coated skin, pigs are omnivorous, garbage-disposing mammals that, on a small farm, can be difficult to turn a profit on but yield great opportunities for fair showmanship and quality food on your dinner table.
Pigs of different breeds have different functionalities—some are known for their terminal sire (the ability to produce offspring intended for slaughter rather than for further breeding) and have a greater potential to pass along desirable traits, such as durability, leanness, and quality of meat, while others are known for their reproductive and maternal qualities. The breed you choose to raise will depend on whether you are raising your pigs for show, for profit, or for putting food on your family’s table.
Originally from England, this large white breed of hog has a long frame, comparable to the Landrace. They are known for their quality meat and mothering ability and are likely the most widely distributed breed of pig in the world. Farmers will also find that the Yorkshire breed generally adapts well to confinement.
This white-haired hog is a descendent from Denmark and is known for producing large litters, supplying milk, and exhibiting good maternal qualities. The breed is long-bodied and short-legged with a nearly flat arch to its back. Its long, floppy ears are droopy and can cover its eyes.
Like the Landrace, this popular white hog is known for its mothering abilities and large litter size. Originating from crossbreeding in Pennsylvania, Chester hogs are medium-sized and solid white in color.
Originally from the United Kingdom, the black-and-white Berkshire hog has perky ears and a short, dished snout. This medium-sized breed is known for its siring ability and quality meat.
Ranging from solid colors of light gold to dark red, the strongly built Durocs are known for their rapid growth and ultra-efficient feed-to-meat conversion. This large breed is also hailed for its tasty meat.
Known for often reaching the maximum weight at any age bracket, this black-and-white breed is of the meaty variety.
A likely descendent of an old English breed, the Hampshire is one of America’s oldest original breeds. Characterized by a white belt circling the front of the pigs’ black bodies, this breed is known for its hardiness and high-quality meat.
Known for producing pigs with high growth rates, this black-and-white spotted hog gains weight quickly while maintaining a favorable feed efficiency. Part of the Spot’s ancestry can be traced back to the Poland China breed.
Keeping your pigs happy and healthy and preventing them from wandering off requires two primary structures: a shelter and a sturdy fence. A shelter is necessary to protect your pigs from inclement weather and to provide them with plenty of shade, as their skin is prone to sunburn. Shelters can be relatively simple three-sided, roofed structures with slanted, concrete flooring to allow you to spray away waste with ease. To help keep your pigs comfortable, provide them with enough straw in their shelter and an area to make a wallow—a muddy hole they can lie in to stay cool.