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Updated: Apr 11



The Top Homestead Heritage Pig Breeds for Small-Scale Farming





Main Points


  • The Benefits of Homestead Heritage Pig Breeds

  • Choosing the Right Homestead Heritage Pig Breed for Your Farm

  • Top Homestead Heritage Pig Breeds for Small-Scale Farming

  • Tips for Raising and Caring for Homestead Heritage Pigs

  • Ensuring Sustainable Practices with Homestead Heritage Pig Breeds


Resources Mentioned:



The Top Homestead Heritage Pig Breeds for Small-Scale Farming


Are you a small-scale farmer searching for the perfect pig breed to enhance your homestead? Look no further! In this episode, we have handpicked a list of the top Homestead Heritage pig breeds that are renowned for their versatility, hardiness, and ability to thrive in various environments. Whether you're a seasoned farmer or just starting out, these incredible breeds are sure to meet your farm's unique needs and provide you with a multitude of benefits. From their exceptional adaptability to their superior meat quality, we'll dive into all the reasons why these pig breeds are the ideal choice for small-scale farming. Additionally, we'll explore the crucial factors to consider when selecting the right breed for your farm, offer practical tips on raising and caring for these pigs, and emphasize the importance of sustainable practices in maintaining their heritage. By the end of this episode, you'll be equipped with the knowledge to make an informed decision and embrace the countless advantages these Homestead Heritage pig breeds bring to your farm. 


The Benefits of Homestead Heritage Pig Breeds


Selecting the right pig breed for your small-scale farm is a decision that should not be taken lightly. With the abundance of options available, it's important to understand the benefits that Homestead Heritage pig breeds bring to the table. These breeds have long been celebrated for their unique qualities that make them stand out amongst the rest. By choosing a Homestead Heritage pig breed, you are setting yourself up for a range of advantages that will contribute to the success and sustainability of your farm.


One of the primary benefits of Homestead Heritage pig breeds is their exceptional adaptability. These pigs are known for their ability to thrive in various environments, whether it be a hot and humid climate or a cold and wet one. This adaptability is a result of their genetic makeup and heritage, which has been carefully preserved over time. By selecting a Homestead Heritage pig breed, you can be confident that your pigs will be able to withstand and flourish in the conditions specific to your farm.


Family Feeding pigs

Another significant benefit of Homestead Heritage pig breeds is the superior quality of their meat. These breeds have been selectively bred to produce meat that is flavorful, tender, and of the highest standards. Whether you plan to sell the meat directly to consumers or use it for your own consumption, you can be assured that the meat from these pigs will be a cut above the rest. Additionally, the meat of Homestead Heritage pig breeds often boasts marbling, which contributes to its succulence and rich taste.


In addition to their adaptability and meat quality, Homestead Heritage pig breeds offer a range of other benefits. These breeds are typically hardy and robust, making them less susceptible to common pig diseases and ailments. This resilience not only reduces the risk of health issues but also decreases the need for medications and interventions, promoting a more sustainable and natural approach to farming. Furthermore, Homestead Heritage pig breeds often have well-rounded temperaments, making them easier to handle and manage on a small-scale farm.


Choosing a Homestead Heritage pig breed for your farm is not just a practical decision, but also a nod to the preservation of their heritage. By selecting and raising these breeds, you are contributing to the conservation of their unique genetic traits and characteristics. This helps ensure that future generations will continue to benefit from the exceptional qualities these pigs possess. Embracing sustainable practices in the care and breeding of Homestead Heritage pig breeds is an essential aspect of maintaining their heritage and ensuring their continued presence in the farming community.


But before we dive into the name of these breeds let's discuss how to choose the right heritage pig breed for you and your homestead. 



Choosing the Right Homestead Heritage Pig Breed for Your Farm


First of all, choosing a Homestead Heritage pig breed for your farm is not just a practical decision, but also a nod to the preservation of their heritage. By selecting and raising these breeds, you are contributing to the conservation of their unique genetic traits and characteristics. This helps ensure that future generations will continue to benefit from the exceptional qualities these pigs possess. Embracing sustainable practices in the care and breeding of Homestead Heritage pig breeds is an essential aspect of maintaining their heritage and ensuring their continued presence in the farming community.


But let’s delve into the crucial factors to consider when selecting a specific breed that aligns with your farm's requirements and goals. Understanding the distinctive qualities and needs of each breed will enable you to make an informed decision that maximizes the benefits for your small-scale farming operation. From considering the size and temperament of the pigs to evaluating their adaptability to different climates and their suitability for various farming practices, there are several key aspects to ponder.


Consider the size of the breed, as this will have implications for the space and resources needed to raise them. While larger breeds may provide a greater yield, they also require more space and feed. Smaller breeds, on the other hand, may be better suited for limited farming areas. 


Additionally, think about the temperament of the breed and how it aligns with your farm's management style. Some breeds are more docile and easy to handle, while others may be more independent and require additional attention and training.


Furthermore, make sure to assess the adaptability of the breed to your specific geographical location and climate. Certain breeds may thrive better in colder or warmer climates, so understanding the requirements of the breed in relation to your farm's environment is crucial for their overall well-being and productivity. 


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Additionally, consider the breed's resistance to common diseases and parasites prevalent in your area, as this can greatly impact their health and your farm's success.


Lastly, think about your farm's goals and the intended purpose of raising Homestead Heritage pigs. Are you looking for a breed that excels in meat production? Or do you value a breed that produces high-quality lard or is well-suited for grazing? Determining your specific objectives and aligning them with the strengths and attributes of different Homestead Heritage pig breeds will help you choose the right one for your farm.


By carefully considering these factors and selecting a Homestead Heritage pig breed that aligns with your farm's requirements and goals, you are not only ensuring the suitability of the pigs for your operation, but also actively contributing to the preservation and continuation of their valuable heritage. Next, we will explore some of the top Homestead Heritage pig breeds for small-scale farming, providing insights into their characteristics and benefits.


But first it is time for the Tips and Tricks segment of this episode where I share a timely tip or trick that I am using right now at Red Ridge Farmstead to help you on your growing journey!


Top Homestead Heritage Pig Breeds for Small-Scale Farming


By carefully considering your farm's goals and the intended purpose of raising Homestead Heritage pigs, you can ensure that the breed you choose aligns with your specific objectives. Whether you prioritize meat production, high-quality lard, or grazing capabilities, selecting the right Homestead Heritage pig breed will not only benefit your farm but also contribute to the preservation of their valuable heritage. In the following section, we will explore some of the top Homestead Heritage pig breeds for small-scale farming, providing insights into their characteristics and benefits. With this knowledge, you can make an informed decision on which breed suits your farm best, setting you up for success when it comes to raising and caring for Homestead Heritage pigs.


Red Wattle


Red wattle is commonly identified through their color (which ranges from light blonde-red to a deep rust-red) and distinctive wattles.


Sometimes, they appear to have small black markings on their belly, and typically weigh 800–1,000 lb (360–450 kg).


They reach their table weight quickly, making them excellent for raising for meat.


Though large in size, these red hogs are not difficult to raise.


Besides their rapid growth rate, they are gentle and have an incredibly mild temperament.


They are a very fertile breed, with the sow's birthing 7-12 piglets in each litter, which makes them an excellent money-maker.


They also have impressive foraging ability, and adapt to a wide range of climates, making them a good choice for small-scale, independent producers.


Not to mention their red-wattle pork is tender and juicy tasting meat just like that of beef!


There’s not much information about the origin and history of red wattle heritage pig breeds, but it was believed to have been introduced in the country by its ancestors through the Gulf of Mexico.


When French colonists brought these hogs to New Orleans, they began to populate and reach the forest of Texas.


Unfortunately, they are now included on the threatened list of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) with only less than 1,000 registrations in the United States yearly.


Large Black Pig


Large Black Hog have been bred for their large size and their foraging ability.


They have their black skin color to protect them from sunburn (especially in hot climates), and large ears that fall over their faces to protect their eyes while foraging.


Originally from Devon England, Large Blacks were bred to thrive on either pasture, or woods, or difficult land.


It was a successful breed in the early twentieth century and later on exported to other countries like Australia, Argentina, South Africa, and North America.  


However, it almost became extinct in the 1960s after World War II when intensive animal husbandry began.


When commercial pork operations moved into large barns, “outdoor breeds” lost popularity.


This caused a number of outdoor breeds, including large black pigs to decline, eventually enlisting them as endangered livestock in 1973.


With a large, deep, and elongated body, these heritage pig breeds are excellent forager and are renowned for their docile nature.


Their maternal instinct is also extraordinary as they can conceive, wean and raise litters of 8-12 piglets at a time.


And while consumers love the flavor and quality of their lean meat, producers on the other hand, consider them as a good option for pastured management systems. I’ve also heard they make amazing bacon.


Meishan Pig


Originating in China, Meishan Pigs may be the oldest heritage pig breed in the world!


Adult meishan pigs weigh around 275-375/300-400 lbs and have excellent maternity skills, weaning more than 20 piglets.


Their superior marbled meat makes an excellent choice for explicit cuisines in China and Japan!


They are also a popular choice among family farms because of their very docile and quiet characteristics, enabling them to manage these heritage pig breeds easily.


If you are a small-scale, independent producer who has a small farm and is able to provide a high fiber diet and roughage, then meishan pigs are a good option for you!


Today, Meishan Pigs are considered another rare breed and critical heritage pig breed that are restricted in zoos and some research facilities.


MuleFoot Pig


An American heritage hog breed, the mulefoot hog weighs around 400-600 lbs at maturity, and is known to have solid, non-cloven hooves that are advantageous in wet conditions.


They are typically medium-sized, with black body color (often with white markings) and have erect to semi-lop ears (similar to a wild boar).


Just like most types of heritage pig breeds, Mulefoot hogs are excellent mothers, able to wean as many as 13 piglets!


They are considered a valuable part of American history and are now a conservation priority (critical CPL status).


While their origination story is unknown, it was likely brown to the Gulf Coast by the Spanish and bred with the Choctaw pig.


This generic Spanish-descended stock was minimally managed until the late 1800s .


As of today, they are the only heritage pig breed that has an established standard type since the 1900s.


However in the mid 1900’s the popularity of this breed collapsed and the breed standard closed.


As of 2006 there were estimated to be fewer than 200 purebred mulefoot hogs in existence.



Ossabaw Pig


Typically small, weighing around 90kg at maturity and less than 20 inches tall, Ossabaw Islands are intelligent and highly social breeds.


Having been raised on an island where their natural environment food is often scarce, these traditional breeds have strong survival instincts.


They can store fat in a different manner, can be thrifty and self-sufficient, and thrive in a low sugar level diet.


Ossabaw Island also has unique, dark texture meat, commonly roasted or cured to enhance the taste.


In the 16th century, when the Spanish and Portuguese explorers came to the United States, they brought with them different kinds of livestock for future food, and one of them is the Ossabaw Island.


It was thought that these heritage pig breeds were of Spanish descent, but later on discovered through DNA analysis that they are from Canary Island – an important stopover for the explorers during that time.


Today, Ossabaw Island pigs, as another critical livestock, are isolated under the State of Georgia for preservation and research purposes. 


Tamworth Pig


Tamworth Pig is a heritage pig breed originated in Ireland, and is one of those that are exposed to outdoor life.


This means they are athletic, able to walk in considerable distance because of their strong, long legs, and able to hunt for food for their own survival.


Because of their low energy diet, they can produce lean and fine-grained meat.


Tamworth Pigs have erect ears and long lean bodies, enabling them to forage excellently and efficiently, and enabling them to easily adapt to various climate conditions.


In terms of mothering, they are noted to perform excellently with a litter size of 6-10.


Overall, they are intelligent domestic pigs with 500-600 lbs weight at maturity.


Black Pig in the Bushes

American Yorkshire Pig


The Yorksire pig was developed in England in the county of York.


The first Yorkshire pigs were brought to the United States into Ohio around 1830.


From there they were bred into the American Yorkshire pig.


White in color, with erect ears, they are what is typically thought of when you think of a pig.


They are found in almost every state and are the most recorded pig in the United States.


Gloucestershire Pig


One of the most popular breeds of pigs, Gloucestershire Old Spot Pigs are just how they sound.


From Gloucestershire and have pink skin covered in black spots.


While they have been around for several centuries, they didn’t have an official pedigree until the early 20th century.


They were very popular in Gloucestershire where they were known as the orchard pig because they would graze in apple orchards, clearing up the windfalls without damaging the dirt or trees.


American Guinea Hog


One of the most popular swine breeds in the United States.


These hogs were imported from West Africa and Canary Islands to America in conjunction with the slave trade.


They even made their way up to Thomas Jefferson in 1804 where they were called Red Guineas.


In the 1880s, the distinct red color was bred out.


Guinea Hogs were popular in rural homesteads where they were expected to forage for their own food, eat rodents and snakes, creating a safe zone around the house.


When it comes to raising heritage pig breeds, one has to consider some important factors, such as environment and breed type.


Overall, raising them is a challenging yet fun experience.


Not to mention easy & direct access to fine quality, superior meat!


Kune Kune


I have a great article all about how we chose our pig for our farm. But here are just a few highlights.


Kunekune means “fat and round” in the Mesabi language. These medium-sized, calm, well-tempered lard pigs come from New Zealand. It is unknown for sure what their heritage is exactly, but it is estimated that they are Berkshire, Poland, China crosses. 


A lard pig is a pig that produces more of the fat that can be rendered for lard. Lard was the staple of the homestead kitchen and should still be. The adult females average 100-175 lb and males 200 to 250 lbs. 


Kunekune pigs

That is a fraction of the commercial Pig weight of about 500 lb. Kunekune are grazing pigs and don't need a huge amount of grain, but they are slow-growing. Meaning, it takes them longer to grow to their full size. 


What I loved is that their main food source was grass and they would need grain only as a supplement. Now, even though these pigs were different from commercial pigs, they are going to need all the basic things to grow and survive.



There are more heritage breeds, I have only shared a few here. Next we are going to discuss the tips for raising and caring for these unique pigs.


But now it is time for the Growing with God segment of this episode where you and I learn more about building a relationship with our Lord and Savior.


Tips for Raising and Caring for Homestead Heritage Pigs


When it comes to raising and caring for Homestead Heritage pigs, there are a few tips and best practices that can help ensure their well-being and maximize their potential on your small-scale farm. Proper nutrition and feeding routines are essential for the health and growth of these pigs. Providing a balanced diet that includes a mixture of grains, forage, and fresh produce will help meet their nutritional needs. Additionally, ensuring access to clean water at all times is crucial for their hydration.


In terms of housing, Homestead Heritage pigs require adequate space to roam and root. Providing them with a secure and spacious enclosure will allow them to exhibit their natural behaviors and prevent injuries. Bedding material, such as straw or sawdust, should be regularly changed to maintain cleanliness and prevent the buildup of bacteria. 


Want to learn more about the structure we built for our Kune Kune pig, Grab the Red Ridge Farm Builds eBook where I share the details for building the best pig shelter on your homestead and other builds we have built at Red Ridge Farmstead. 


Regular veterinary care is vital to maintaining the health of Homestead Heritage pigs. Scheduling routine check-ups and vaccinations can help prevent and control diseases. Consulting with a veterinarian experienced in pig care can provide valuable guidance and ensure your pigs receive the necessary medical attention.


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Another critical aspect of raising Homestead Heritage pigs is proper waste management. Pigs produce a significant amount of manure, which can be a valuable resource if managed correctly. Implementing a composting system for pig waste can help reduce odors and create nutrient-rich compost for your farm.


Furthermore, it is important to consider the temperament and behavior of Homestead Heritage pig breeds. Some breeds may be more suited for first-time pig owners, while others require more experienced handlers. Take the time to understand the specific characteristics of the breed you choose and adapt your handling techniques accordingly.


By following these tips for raising and caring for Homestead Heritage pigs, you can ensure their well-being and create a thriving environment on your small-scale farm. 


Ensuring Sustainable Practices with Homestead Heritage Pig Breeds


Lastly, we will delve into the importance of sustainable practices when it comes to breeding and raising these heritage pig breeds, highlighting the benefits of incorporating eco-friendly approaches into your farming operations.


When it comes to small-scale farming, sustainability is a crucial aspect that should not be overlooked. Implementing sustainable practices ensures that you are not only taking care of the environment but also maintaining the health and well-being of your Homestead Heritage pigs.


One of the key elements of sustainability in pig farming is the utilization of eco-friendly feed options. Opting for locally sourced, organic feed can reduce your environmental impact and decrease the carbon footprint associated with transporting feed from distant locations. Additionally, choosing feed options that are free from harmful additives and antibiotics can contribute to the overall well-being of your pigs and enhance the quality of the meat they produce.


Red Ridge Farm Pig House

Another important aspect of sustainable pig farming is waste management. Homestead Heritage pig breeds are known for their ability to forage and utilize various food sources. By allowing them access to pasture and other outdoor areas, you can take advantage of their natural instincts to root and graze, reducing the amount of feed waste generated on your farm. Additionally, implementing composting systems can help you turn pig manure and other organic waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer, closing the loop and minimizing waste.


Incorporating rotational grazing practices can also greatly benefit the environment and the overall health of your pigs. By regularly moving your pigs to fresh pasture, you can prevent overgrazing, reduce soil erosion, and promote the growth of diverse vegetation. This approach not only helps maintain the sustainability of your land but also creates a healthier and more robust foraging environment for your Homestead Heritage pigs.



By implementing these sustainable practices, you can ensure that your Homestead Heritage pig breeds are raised in a way that benefits both the pigs themselves and the environment. Not only will you be contributing to the preservation of these heritage breeds, but you will also be setting an example for other small-scale farmers, showing them that it is possible to create a thriving farm while prioritizing sustainability. In the following section, we will conclude our exploration of Homestead Heritage pig breeds and their suitability for small-scale farming.,


In conclusion, the top Homestead Heritage pig breeds for small-scale farming offer a world of possibilities for farmers seeking versatility, hardiness, and sustainability. From the rugged Large Black to the efficient Tamworth, these pig breeds have proven themselves in diverse environments. By carefully considering your farm's specific needs, resources, and goals, you can select the perfect breed that aligns with your vision of a thriving homestead. But remember, it's not just about the breed; proper care and sustainable practices are key to reaping the benefits these incredible pigs have to offer. So, take action now and embark on your journey towards a successful and fulfilling homestead. As you do, keep in mind this timeless quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." Start small, nurture your pigs with love and dedication, and watch your homestead flourish into something extraordinary.



Don’t let the world hold you back,


Pray, Just Plant



Top Homestead Pig Breeds


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