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White pigs (part one)
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Many loca white breeds have disappeared over the years or been absorbed by the few that remain. The old White Leicester was possibly the result of crossing pigs bred by one of the pioneers of livestock breeding, Robert Bakewell (1725-95), and originating from white, light spotted or mahogany local Leicester pigs crossed with a black boar, or from white Chinese, or it might simply have arisen from breeding local pigs with the soon to be famous Middle White or Small White from Yorkshire. Despite its name, the White Leicester of the latter half of the nineteenth century was sometimes categorised as 'brown' or was described as light with black or brown spots.

In Lincolnshire the white pigs grew remarkably thick curly coats as protection against the weather. These fleecy, broad-backed, flop-eared Lincolnshire Curly Coats were lovely big pigs of character, great favourites with cottagers and smallholders, but the breed was extinct by the early 1970s.

White pigs (part one)

The 'stupendious' Yorkshire Hog, exhibited to the public for his immense size in 1809. He was bred by Benjamin Rowley of Red House, near Doncaster, and fed by Joseph Hudson on the estate of Colonel Thomas Charles Beaumont, MP, of Bretton Hall. At four years old, the hog was 9 feet 10 inches long and 12 ½ hands high and weighed 1,344 pounds.

The Cheshire pigs - white, blue-and-white or black-and-white - were enormous, with long hanging ears, narrow curvy backs, big heads and long bony legs. Cully (1807) described a particular Cheshire pig that was 9 feet 8 inches long and 4 feet 6 inches high and weighed 1,410 pounds.

White pigs (part one)

Lincolnshire Curly Coat. A livestock manual published in the early 1900s stated: The canonization of the Lincoln pig as late as the twentieth century is an event which is as remarkable in its way as was the establishment of the Large White fifty years earlier.' The Lincoln was 'of great size' and was expected by an influential international pig judge of the time to have a 'great and prosperous future' in Europe and America. Once a great cottage favourite, with its thick woolly 'fleece', the breed became extinct in the 1960s.

One of Britain's biggest breeds in the mid nineteenth century was the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, said to 'exceed in weight that of a moderately grown Scotch Ox'. It was not beautiful, having very long legs, a very long body, poor conformation and coarse flabby flesh, but it was probably the progenitor of the most famous breed in the world, the Large White or, as it is still known in many countries, the Large Yorkshire. The old Yorkshires were huge and hungry but were hardy and prolific and produced good bacon. They were improved with this and that - Berkshire, Black Essex, Neapolitan and so on - creating a black-and-white mixture. Then the prick-eared White Leicester was used on them early in the nineteenth century. Still the breeders, earls and dukes among them, continued with their improvements, and perhaps the most successful was a Keighley weaver, Joseph Tuley, in the middle of that century. Tuley pigs were exported worldwide and could fetch as much as £l ,000 for one sow.

Gradually the Large Yorkshire became white and absorbed other county whites: the Large White was recognised in 1868, and its first herdbook was published in 1884.

White pigs (part one)

Splendidly hairy Large White boar in the 1880s, the prize-winning Holywell Windsor owned by Sanders Spencer of Holywell Manor, St. Ives, Hampshire.

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