Hampshire Pigs

A vigorous, attractive breed, Hampshires sport a white belt—and may be one of the oldest swine breeds.

by Dani Yokhna
PHOTO: Jeannette Beranger/The Livestock Conservancy

Use: Hampshire hogs yield a lean, well-muscled carcass with low backfat and contribute these qualities, along with speedy growth, to their cross-bred young. Some say when the famous Smithfield Ham was established, their products were made using only Hampshire hogs.

History: “Old English” hogs wandering the New Forest of Hampshire in England are thought to have been the forerunners of the Hampshire breed. The pigs arrived in the United States during the early 1800s; farmers in Kentucky worked with the breed and formed the first registry in 1893. Around that time, the Hampshire went by a number of different names, including “Thin Rind,” which described their thinner-than-normal skin. Now officially called the Hampshire, this hog may be the oldest swine breed in existence today—at least in the United States.

Conformation: Another departure from most folk’s stereotypical view of pigs, the black-coated Hampshire sports a thick, flashy white belt around its shoulder area that includes both front legs. This vigorous breed possesses perky, upright ears, a slightly dished face, and sound legs and feet.

Special Considerations/Notes: Sows have a reputation as good mothers with long breeding lives. Said to be an easy-care pig for beginners and an efficient feeder and forager, it’s no wonder that the Hampshire follows the Duroc as the third most-recorded swine breed in the United States.

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