Essex pigs were developed in the United
Kingdom. Essex pigs are popular because they are easy and cheap to keep.
The modern day Essex was developed by
breeding local pigs in area denoted in the Essex area. The original Essex, also
known as the Old Essex, was a small black and white pig. By the nineteenth
century, the Old Essex was improved by crossbreeding with imported pig breeds.
Although the breed had been changed, they
still remained popular until the 1950s, especially during and after World War
Two, because they retained their hardiness and independence. In 1955, a report
was released by the Advisory Committee on the Development of Pig Production in
the United Kingdom stating that the variety of pigs throughout the United
Kingdom was hampering competition with foreign pork producers, specifically
Denmark. Breeders were then encouraged to focus on producing the large white,
the Welsh, and the Landrace breeds. Because of this, the Essex pig experienced
a major decline in population.
The Essex pig and Wessex pig, a similar breed,
had joined together by 1918, but the official end of the Essex breed occurred
in 1967, when the studbooks of both the Essex and Wessex were combined with
that of the British saddleback in hopes of improving breed characteristics. It
was thought for many years that the Essex pig became extinct in 1967, but one
farmer named John Croshaw had not combined his pigs with the other breeds. This
herd, known as Glascote Herd, remained pure genetically, although it was
registered as a herd of British saddlebacks. In 1997, the Essex Pig Society was
formed to help promote education and re-establishment of the Essex breed.