The Large Black Pig

The Large Black Pig breed is a traditional, heritage breed that was first imported to Australia from the UK in the early 1900's. It has it's origins in the Old English Hog of the 16th and 17th Centuries and, by the late 1800's, the main strongholds of the breed were in East Anglia and Devon & Cornwall. Two distinct types of pig were produced and the founding of the Large Black Pig Society in 1899 led to an increase in the exchange of stock between breeders in the two localities which in turn, led to a standardisation in type. The first reference to them in the Australian Pure Bred Pig Herd Book was in 1912.

They were prized for their superior milking and mothering abilities and soon became popular with early Dairy Farmers who fed them whey from separated milk as part of their butter making process. They proved economical to keep and, being excellent grazing pigs, were also used to pick up windfall fruit in orchards. Their black colouring enabled them to withstand the hot Australian summers and avoid sunburn. These virtues, coupled with their hardiness and docile temperament made them eminently suitable for free-range pork production.

In the 1960's, the trend towards intensive farming favouring fast growing, bacon type, white pigs led to a rapid decline in the Large Black breed which did not perform as well under these conditions. As a result this breed, once prized for its succulent, tasty meat fell foul of the whims of farming fashion and has now been placed on the 'critical' list by rare breeds organisations the world over. In Australia, there are estimated to be only sixty registered breeding sows left in existence. Christine Ross, of Eastwind Rare Breeds Farm, currently has twenty five of these.

Christine Ross and two Large Black sows