Berkshire pig

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

a black pig with white feet and white on the snout
Berkshire boar at the 2005 Royal Adelaide Show
Conservation status
  • FAO (2007): not at risk[1]: 148 
  • RBST (2011): at risk[2]
  • RBST (2020): vulnerable[3]
Country of originUnited Kingdom
  • Male:
    280 kg[4]
  • Female:
    220 kg[4]
Skin colourblack
  • Pig
  • Sus domesticus

The Berkshire is a British breed of pig. It originated in the English county of Berkshire, for which it is named. It is normally black, with some white on the snout, on the lower legs, and on the tip of the tail.

It is a rare breed in the United Kingdom. It has been exported to a number of countries including Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United States, and is numerous in some of them.


The Berkshire is a traditional breed of the county of the same name. Until the eighteenth century it was a large tawny-coloured pig with lop ears, often with darker patches.[5]: 551 [6] In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries it was substantially modified by cross-breeding with small black pigs imported from Asia.[5]: 558 

Herds are still maintained in England by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust at Aldenham Country Park, Hertfordshire, and by the South of England Rare Breeds Centre in Kent. The Berkshire was listed as vulnerable in 2008; fewer than 300 breeding sows were known to exist at that time, but with the revived popularity of the breed through its connection to the Japanese marketing of a "wagyu for pork" connection, the numbers have increased.[7]

The Berkshire has been exported to many countries, and has become numerous in some of them; it is reported to the DAD-IS database of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations by twenty-three countries, in the Americas, Asia, continental Europe and Oceania.[8]

Exports to the United States began in the early nineteenth century. The American Berkshire Association, established in 1875, was the first breed society for a pig breed;[5]: 551  the first pig registered was a boar named Ace of Spades, reportedly bred by Queen Victoria.[9]

The pigs were exported to Japan in the 1860s, and became numerous there: in 2007 there were over 330000.[10] The Japanese Kagoshima Berkshire, which apparently derives from two British Berkshire pigs imported to Japan in the 1930s, is considered a separate breed;[5]: 629  the meat may be marketed as Kurobuta pork, and can command a premium price.[5]: 551 


The Berkshire is of medium size: adult boars weigh about 280 kg (600 lb), sows some 220 kg (500 lb).[4] It is black with six white markings: four white socks, a white splash on the snout, and a white tip to the tail.[11] It is prick-eared.[11]


The Berkshire is reared for pork. Although the meat has a relatively low pH, and high pH is normally correlated with consumer satisfaction, Berkshire pork was highly rated in taste tests in the United States.[12]


  1. ^ Barbara Rischkowsky, Dafydd Pilling (editors) (2007). List of breeds documented in the Global Databank for Animal Genetic Resources, annex to The State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome: Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ISBN 9789251057629. Archived 23 June 2020.
  2. ^ RBST Watchlist 2011. Kenilworth, Warwickshire: Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Archived 2 December 2011.
  3. ^ Pigs watchlist. Kenilworth, Warwickshire: Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Archived 18 December 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Berkshire. Kenilworth, Warwickshire: Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Archived 23 September 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e Valerie Porter, Lawrence Alderson, Stephen J.G. Hall, D. Phillip Sponenberg (2016). Mason's World Encyclopedia of Livestock Breeds and Breeding (sixth edition). Wallingford: CABI. ISBN 9781780647944.
  6. ^ Berkshire. Manaia: New Zealand Pig Breeders Association. ARCHIVED 6 March 2023.
  7. ^ Rare Breeds Survival Trust watch list. Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Archived 31 July 2008
  8. ^ Transboundary breed: Berkshire. Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed June 2023.
  9. ^ History. West Lafayette, Indiana: American Berkshire Association. Archived 28 May 2019.
  10. ^ Breed data sheet: Berkshire / Japan (Pig). Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed June 2023.
  11. ^ a b The Berkshire. The British Pig Association. Archived 12 June 2006.
  12. ^ Larry McMullen (2006). Sensory Preferences of Consumers for High pH, Low pH Commodity Pork Loins and Berkshire Pork Loins – A.S. Leaflet R2056. Iowa State University Animal Industry Report. 3 (1). doi:10.31274/ans_air-180814-986.