The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Pigs => Topic started by: cambee on July 09, 2019, 10:10:30 am

Title: Berkshires and bacon
Post by: cambee on July 09, 2019, 10:10:30 am
Hi all. We are picking up our first 2 weaners, 2 boars to raise for meat. We wanted a traditional breed and for our first pigs we both independently put Berkshires on the top of our list. Went yesterday and saw them in situ with their mum and fell in love. I have one question. Their breeder is a big fan obviously but had one reservation and that was their bacon. She said that it could be her personal taste but she didn’t like the way their bacon looked? Has anybody else experienced this? We are raising this first 2 more for pork and sausages but I would like bacon eventually and the breeder did actually have some same age cross breed Berkshire/ old spot/ middle white weaners and I was wondering whether we ought to get one of those as well? So the second question is 2 or 3 weaners? Does that make a huge difference? Thanks. Look forward to your views.
Title: Re: Berkshires and bacon
Post by: Zyg on July 09, 2019, 02:35:40 pm
3 weaners instead of 2 is half as much again  ;D
Title: Re: Berkshires and bacon
Post by: harmony on July 09, 2019, 02:41:49 pm

Did she say why? Not sure how it would look different. Did she say what weight they take them to?


Three weaners is a lot of meat when finished. Three means you can send in one as a trial run then send the next two together.
Title: Re: Berkshires and bacon
Post by: cambee on July 09, 2019, 06:59:32 pm
No she just said she preferred bacon from one of her white pigs due to the colour not the flavour. I was hoping another Berkshire breeder might have a view. But it also made me think, for a bacon pig do they have to be kept for longer than pork pigs? If so, what do you do if you only have two? You have to send them off together so I assume you have to keep both for longer
Title: Re: Berkshires and bacon
Post by: harmony on July 09, 2019, 08:20:01 pm

I don't think that white pigs have different colour muscle to black pigs. I have kept many breeds and tasted many breeds. Muscle colour varies with feed and exercise.


I take my Lops to 100kg live weight but Berkshires would be too fatty by that weight. We will take a side for bacon (dry cure) with the rest pork and sausage. No reason why you can't do the same with a smaller pig. Optimum for a Berkshire is probably 65/70 kilo lw.
Title: Re: Berkshires and bacon
Post by: SallyintNorth on July 09, 2019, 10:41:09 pm
I’ve no experience of Berkshires but I’ve had other pigs with coloured skins and hair, and some folk don’t like the dark hairs in the crackling. Not a problem if you’re eating them yourself but might be something to think about if you’re planning on selling untrimmed bacon or pork joints.
Title: Re: Berkshires and bacon
Post by: ZacB on July 11, 2019, 06:59:06 am
Can’t see there being a problem with bacon from your Berkshires, we had no issues - second the thoughts about going to fat but that’s the case with most/all trad breeds when feeding modern high protein feeds.
Meant to be the best breed for tasty meat second to the Middle White - we didn’t notice much difference to be honest though.
Have a passion for Large Blacks which we’ve now had on a couple of occasions - three at a time, first to go for pork joints & then other two kept for a little longer for bacon joints.
Hope you enjoy whatever decision you come to.
Title: Re: Berkshires and bacon
Post by: Rupert the bear on July 11, 2019, 10:26:12 am
Yes for bacon the meat is divine although a bit more fat .Ours had a firmer texture as well.our butcher will always take a Berkshire.
Title: Re: Berkshires and bacon
Post by: pharnorth on July 11, 2019, 09:44:53 pm
We have both pork amd bacon from out Berkshires. Wouldn't want anything else. Fabulous
Title: Re: Berkshires and bacon
Post by: harmony on July 11, 2019, 09:47:40 pm
Can’t see there being a problem with bacon from your Berkshires, we had no issues - second the thoughts about going to fat but that’s the case with most/all trad breeds when feeding modern high protein feeds.
Meant to be the best breed for tasty meat second to the Middle White - we didn’t notice much difference to be honest though.
Have a passion for Large Blacks which we’ve now had on a couple of occasions - three at a time, first to go for pork joints & then other two kept for a little longer for bacon joints.
Hope you enjoy whatever decision you come to.



It is not feeding high protein food to traditionals that makes them fat but too much food. Different breeds finish best at different live weights. Berkshires and Middles are very similar. Slow growth adds taste and you are unlikely to be disappointed with any homegrown pork but yes, individual breeds do have their differences.
Title: Re: Berkshires and bacon
Post by: cambee on July 13, 2019, 08:00:13 am
Thank you all for your replies. You set my mind at rest so we passed on the pink pig and picked up the 2 Berkshires yesterday. I’m in love already (non smallholder friends don’t get that you can love your animals when you ultimately intend to eat them but hopefully you all do). This is definitely the start of many years of pig owning so that’s another part of the forum I will be avidly following.