Our boar, Winston, is a purebred Large Black. Large Blacks are listed as “Critical” by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy . This means that there are fewer than 200 annual North American registrations of these pigs, and it’s estimated there are fewer than 2000 of them in the global population.
The Large Black breed is an orchard pig, developed in the 1880’s in England where they enjoyed a period of popularity until about 1960. There were some importations into Canada in the 1920’s, and into the U.S. in 1985 and 1998, but there has never been a large North American population. Even today in their native England they are listed as “Vulnerable” by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust , meaning there is a population of less than 300 in that country.
They are a large pig, just slightly smaller than Yorkshire’s. Originally bred as bacon pigs, they have good body depth and length. The shoulders are smallish, but the sides and hams are larger and lean. They have a good amount of intra-muscular marbling, which makes for a moist, juicy and flavorful meat.
Large Blacks are suited to being raised outdoors in a wide range of climates. They are hardy, and good grazers. The sows are known for their mothering ability, milk capacity, and ability to raise large litters on modest rations. The breed is extremely docile, perhaps attributable to the vision impairment created by their lopped ears. All of these qualities make them ideal for the small farm.