Also known as the Devon pig because of it’s English roots, Large Black Hogs were originally known as the Lop Eared Black. A breed association for this endangered pig was formed in 1898. Large Black Hogs are favored for their large size as well as their great flavor along with being very docile, an excellent land forager and wonderful mothering skills.
The Large Black is often crossbred with Yorkshire and Berkshire stock for optimum meat production and was used in small scale production of pork and pork products such as bacon. The cross bred hybrid is a very vigorous breed and highly regarded commercially.
The popularity of the breed came to it’s peak in the 1920’s a began to be exported to other countries including the US. However, after World War II, as indoor pig husbandry increased in popularity, the outdoor breeds, such as the Large Black Hog, declined and during the 1960’s the Large Black nearly became extinct. It was eventually put on the Rare Breed Survival Trust’s severely endangered livestock list.
The name conjures up images of it’s true form. A large body pig, solid black, with floppy ears that fall over it’s eyes which, although is a hindrance to it’s eye-site, protects them when the pig is foraging and rooting. As mentioned earlier, the Large Black Hog is known best for it’s maternal instincts and it’s capabilities as a forager. Because of it’s ability to raise and ween very big litters of 8-10 piglets outside in the natural elements, it’s survival instincts give it great genetic value. It’s important to note that female obesity can cause cystic ovaries and cause fertility to fall off. Jowl size is a fair indicator of whether the pig is obese or not and can be used as a gauge to track the pigs condition. The fully mature boar can weigh as much as 700-800 pounds with the sows reaching 600-700 pounds when fully grown.
Because of the increased growth in pastured management systems and the increasing interest by consumers for pasture raised pork products, there is increasing interest in the Large Black Hog which is recognized as the best animal to meet these needs. The UK Large Black Pig Breeders Club released that the number of breeders has risen from 114 to 144 from 2004 to 2007. In the US as of 2008, it’s found that there are about 300 breeders of the Large Black hog.
At Ray Family Farms in Louisburg, North Carolina – near Raleigh – we have a waiting list for our piglets so please contact us at 919-422-1372 or on our website at http://www.rayfamilyfarms.com/contact-us/. We will cross breed our large Black boar with other breeds including Yorkshire and Berkshire for optimum meat production. Our pigs live off clover, grasses, and woodlands. We also supplement their diet with fresh ground alfalfa, corn, oats, barley, and wheat. We will feed alfalfa hay in the winter. Our pasture pork will be finished with apples, pears, acorns, and dairy products (really). Hope to hear from you soon!