About American Yorkshire Pigs
The American Yorkshire is a
breed of domestic pig and is the American version of the Yorkshire pig (now
known as the English Large White pig). Yorkshire pigs are white and have erect
ears. The modern Yorkshire is very muscular, with a high proportion of lean
meat and low backfat. They are also very sound and durable animals. Yorkshires
are classified into three types: large, middle, small. Only the large type of
Yorkshire pig has ever gained any prominence in the United States.
The Yorkshire breed was developed
in Yorkshire, England. In 1761, Robert Bakewell became interested in a local
tribe of hogs known as the Leicestershire breed and he molded them into a
large, useful hog that became popular in England.
In 1851 Joseph Luley, one of
the greatest breeders of his time showed a team of his Yorkshire hogs in the
classes for the Large White Breed where they immediately attracted widespread
attention. Yorkshires became s more than a breed of local repute, became a
breed of National recognition.
The Yorkshire pig also owes
much of their fame in those early years to the herd of N. Wainman of Carhead.
One day Wainman was riding by as a working man was exercising his sow during
the mid-day dinner break. Delighted with the look of the pig, Wainman bought it
from the working man on the spot based on what Wainman described as an
"uncontrollable impulse." That pig was a descendant of Luley's
animals and it is through her descendants that some of the entries of the first
pig herd book can be traced back. Wainman’s pig became the dam of Cheimsford
Duchess, the first Carhead winner at the "Royal" Show, and one of the
first, if not the first Yorkshire pig to be exported.
In 1884 the National Pig
Breeder's Association was founded with Lore Moneton as its first President. The
Association began the task of compiling annually a volume of the Pig Herd Book.
Today, Yorkshire hogs are classed as belonging to the Large White breed, but
prior to that they were just listed as Yorkshires.
In the United States around
the early 1920's, the Morrell Packing Company of Ottumwa, Iowa, and the Hormel
Packing Company of Austin, Minnesota, tried to promote Yorkshires to farmers in
their surrounding areas. After World War I, the market for lard was quickly
vanishing and Yorkshires failed to gain popularity with farmers in these areas
due to their slow growth rate and short, pugged noses.
However during the late
1940's, the pig industry experienced a period of rapid breed expansion and
demand in the United States. A large percentage of Yorkshires were imported
from both England and Canada where the breed had been very popular due to their
large carcass and having a greater substance, ruggedness, and scale than other
breeds of pigs. All of these qualities made the Yorkshire very attractive to pig
breeders in the United States. Importing pigs with these strong qualities
allowed the United States to meet consumer’s leaner meat/pork demands.
Yorkshire breeders have also
led the industry through the utilization of the "STAGES" genetic
evaluation program. From 1990-2006, Yorkshire breeders submitted over 440,000
growth and backfat records and over 320,000 sow productivity records. This
represents the largest source of documented performance records for pigs in the
Today the Yorkshire is the
most common breed of pig in the United States and Canada. They are found in
almost every state now, with the highest populations being in Illinois,
Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio.