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A Bit Of History
Large Black Hogs

If  you had a large, black pig, what name would you give it? Well, when the  first breed society was developed in England, they decided to keep it  simple and called them “Large Black” hogs. They became very popular on  small farms because they were docile, easy to keep and got much of their  nutrition from the grass and forage provided by nature.

Originally  there were two distinct breeds in England; one in the east and the  other in the west. One had dense, long hair and the other had short,  thin hair. Today’s pigs show both traits even within the same litter.  The hogs were imported into the United States early in the twentieth  century and did well on a number of farms. However, in the 1960s when  the pork market started to favor leaner, lighter colored meat the  marbled pork of the Large Black fell out of favor. By the 1990's the  Large Black pig had become critically endangered. Today it is listed as  “Vulnerable” by England’s Rare Breeds Survival Trust and “Critical” by  the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

The Large Black is a docile heritage breed of swine originating in England improved from the Old English Hog from the regions of Devonshire and Essex. They are known for their mothering abilities; this extends to the boars as well who often tend the young. Births are easy on the farm with average litters being between 9 and 12 piglets. Live births of as many as 17 and 18 have been reported to the Large Black Hog Association in recent years.
After an extensive census performed by The Livestock Conservancy, the Large Black was put back on the critically endangered list. Actual registered animals have fallen to a mere 273. The LBHA and The Livestock Conservancy have been working with Purdue University on an artificial insemination project over the past several years. All the hard work by Dr. Kara Stewart and Graduate Research Assistant, Katharine Sharp, have paid off! In February, the Trio were able to disperse several piglets born of semen that had been frozen for nearly 20 years. In July, 25 half UK/US piglets were headed to their forever homes of those who donated sows/gilts to the project. These incredibly special piglets will be used to bolster the Large Black population in the US. By selective breeding, DNA and semen collection from these pigs will then be sent to the USDA Germplasm bank to ensure that the unique qualities of this breed will never go extinct.
The meat is robust and flavorful. Chops and roasts do not dry out due to the intramuscular marbling. Large Blacks are long and deep of body providing excellent bacon. Sausages and bratwurst are juicy and perfect for the grill. A gorgeous pork chop can be seared on the stovetop, then put into the oven to finish off for a tender, succulent meal. A pat of butter on each chop with a sprig of rosemary or thyme is divine.
Most breeders of Large Blacks adore their animals and liken them to having enormous dogs. Each animal has a unique personality that astounds and amuses those who have the good fortune to meet them. The hogs can be seen running through the pastures with their long, floppy ears appearing as though the gigantic swine will soon take flight. They graze the pastures rather than rooting like many breeds. Nasty plants such as poison ivy are no match for the porcine gourmets who slurp up the roots like so much spaghetti.
As you can imagine, we feel the Large Blacks are a wonderful addition to any farm, large or small. They may grow slower than other breeds, but it is well worth the wait. They can be butchered at any size. Chefs prefer the small size of 240 pounds while we enjoy the large hog of nearly 400 pounds or more. The meat has time to develop the deep rich rose color that conveys those succulent flavors. There is no way to compare the differences between what is readily available in the grocery and that of the Large Black. Many purveyors of the pork have commented that they have never truly tasted pork until enjoying that of the Large Black.
As with most of the heritage breed animal world, we raise our farm friends lovingly with an eye towards preserving them from extinction whether that is through crossing out the blood lines or neglect. These animals truly are the motto of the Large Black Hog Association: One goal, One Passion, Large Black Hog.

Large Black Hogs by Handsome Husband
they have great big ears and little bitty eyes.
They are kind of fun to be around because they don't tell lies.
They are safe for your kids and they won't eat your wife.  
Taking care of them is livin' the good life.
now other breeds grow faster, and they are more popular too.
but we find the large blacks are the tastiest and you'll say it is true.

Leaping Waters Charlotte
Dorothy's Warbler
there was a farm south of jumbo
that raised every kind of animal we know.
chickens pigs and cats too.
the owners had allergies and always said achoo!
the wind howled and roared.
the weather was wet.
the dog stood in the doorwary and began to sweat.
he had to pee really, really bad
and if he went in the house, he knew they'd be mad.
so he lowered his head and he slunk out the door
trying to find a dry corner and more.
as quick as a wink he was back in the house,
cursing the weather and snug as a louse.
~Handsome Husband

The evening is still, sound carries from what seems miles to my chilly ears. I stand quiet, listening to the song of the woods. An occasional dog barks, a tire over gravel, the soft chirp of a bird. I am checking fence lines, making sure all is right. I have found the section Max walked over. He came straight to the house to alert me, then followed me back and into the fence grunting happily as he lumbered along. Everyone is safe in the barn for the night. As dusk falls and I am still standing listening to the woods I hear the whisper of of night creatures stirring. Deer bed down for their slumber and the trees say 'Goodnight'. Peaceful.

Basel Defender
The total number of LBHA-registered, living Large Blacks as documented by the 2019 census is 323.
Of these, 104 pigs were registered in 2019, and 27 litter certificates were issued.
We have 10 registered breeding animals, 2 of which are
Defender and Majestic boars.
We will be adding 2 more boar lines in the coming year.
H.M. Farm Matilda
I am a consultant with the Swine Medical Database. This is a searchable database about illness and injuries associated with Heritage Swine.

I am the current Registrar of the Large Black Hog Association. I have held the position since 2011. I retired briefly in 2018. I have been raising Large Blacks since 2009.
Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.
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