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Yorkshire Pigs: Breed Profile, Facts, Photos and More


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Pigs are absolutely fascinating creatures, aren’t they? They are some of the most versatile animals you can find on this planet as they can fit practically any role you assign to them.

Do you want a pet? A little pig will be perfect for the job, especially since pigs are some of the most intelligent and cuddly creatures your money could get you. Are you looking for a show animal? You can find plenty of impressive pig breeds that are unique looking and extremely majestic at the same time too.

But by far the most desirable trait that a pig has is its meat, and that’s a fact. Practically everyone knows just how delicious pigs are, and while there will always be people that complain about the ethicality of raising pigs for their meat, nobody can dispute the deliciousness of the produce.

But, with so many amazing breeds to choose from, how can you really pick out the best for your farm? The answer is simple, you just need to look into what your top choices are and then decide on which one you personally prefer out of all of them.

As such, for today we decided to cover one of the most popular pig breeds out there, the wondrous Yorkshire pig breed. This breed is already known as one of the most delicious on the market, but what else is there to it? Keep on reading and together we will find out.

But before we get into that, how about we give you a brief rundown of the history behind this amazing breed.

The Origins of the Yorkshire Pig

Yorkshire pig farm

As the name implies, this pig breed actually made its way across the world from England way back in the day. While the exact origin of the pig is relatively unknown, what we do know is that this breed made its way to the US around 1830.

This is when it really started catching on as more and more people started to realize just how delicious the Yorkshire pig’s meat is, with it selling especially well around Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio and Nebraska.

The rest is pretty much history as this breed immediately got a huge audience around the US, with its only real downside being the fact that it does grow a lot slower than most other pig breeds, which was a bit of a disappointment at the time.

What saved the breed in the end though was the fact that the farmers quickly realized that the Yorkshire pigs, while definitely slow-growers, managed to outgrow most other breeds on the open market.

American yorkshire female pigs
Photo by Bits and Splits / stock.adobe.com

On top of that, the breed also won over the hearts of the farmers thanks to its ruggedness. The times may have changed since then, but the only real constant has been the popularity of the breed which has always been high to say the least.

The Yorkshires that you can find around these days are very large, whitish-pink with straight ears. While they may not look it necessarily, they have a lot of lean meat and this is largely due to them being very muscular.

You can find your very own Yorkshire and raise it to become a healthy 400 to 700lbs behemoth that will outgrow any of the other pig breeds you may have around your farmhouse.

Just keep in mind that if you are only interested in selling them on the market, you shouldn’t wait for them to get that large as they pretty much stagnate in weight and size for a while.

His is when it is best to sell them, but if you want to grow your own and keep them around you can wait a little longer for them to reach their full potential.

Different Types of Yorkshire Pigs

Yorkshire boar
Shipley Swine Genetics / facebook.com

There are currently three varieties that you can pick from, with them being the following:

  • The Large White (Yorkshire)
  • The Middle White (Middle Yorkshire)
  • The Small White (Small Yorkshire)
The Origins of the Yorkshire Pig
Photo by Laura Anderson / unsplash.com

The first of these is the large white, and as the name implies, it is by far the best option that you could make if you are strictly looking for productivity and quality alone.

This was specifically developed to be the best option to sell or to grow for your own benefit, and as such it is also the most popular variety that most people go for. It is also the most expensive of the three though, so keep that in mind for now.

The second of them is the middle white variety or the Middle Yorkshire. Sadly, you won’t be able to find one of these anytime soon since they are now critically endangered, although there have been many failed attempts to revive this almost-lost variety over the years.

The reason as to why this breed has practically almost gone extinct by now is because the small white variety is extinct, having been pretty much lost due to it not being anywhere near as popular as the large white variety.

The small variety is said to have gone extinct sometime around the 20th century, which is quite sad considering the fact that it was one of the most common pig breeds back in the 19th century, before the sudden rise in popularity of the middle and large varieties.

The Physical Characteristics of the Yorkshire Pig

Physical Characteristics of the Yorkshire Pig
Happy Pig Farm / facebook.com

Despite the fact that they used to be known as one of the largest commercial pig breeds out there, the modern Yorkshire pig is now officially classified as a medium-sized pig.

Even so, this breed is known for having longer bodies than most other medium sized pigs, and its legs and feet are known for being very solid too.

Because of how well built they are, you can expect your Yorkshire pig to be quite active and healthy for the most part, although this also means that you will need to invest quite a lot into giving it a lot more space to run around in.

Weight wise, as we mentioned previously, the male will stay somewhere between 550 and 750 pounds, while the female can reach a pretty impressive size of 450 to 650 pounds itself.

Just keep in mind that while they may seem cuddly when they are piglets, Yorkshire pigs are not domesticated entirely so they don’t make for good pets due to how easily they can end up breaking stuff just by simply laying down on them.

Color wise, you should be looking at a light pink pig variety, to the point where if you were to look at one from a distance you would pretty much instantly feel like you’re staring at an all-white pig instead.

They are known for having relatively indented faces with slightly erect ears. Their tails are also known for being curled slightly, which is also why many people tend to refer to this breed as ‘whimsical’.

Yorkshire pigs pen
Photo by MicrostockStudio / shutterstock.com

As mentioned previously, Yorkshire pigs are quite muscular, although that doesn’t mean that their meat is low in fat, quite the contrary actually. If you are looking for a new bacon-machine, getting yourself a good and fat Yorkshire pig will definitely fit that requirement for you.

As far as their snouts are concerned, you will need to keep in mind that they are quite sensitive, so while you can pet them around all day long, if you catch them by surprise and touch their snouts by accident you may find them panicking randomly and darting around the place.

They are very good at sniffing out food though, meaning that they can also help you around the farm too as they dig around every now and then for fun or for food.

Luckily, even if they do get riled up and they end up attacking you, the only thing they can really do is they can use their weight to push you around. This is because they have no tusks to protect themselves, and on top of that their canine teeth are very small and harmless.

When it comes to their hooves and claws, Yorkshire pigs are known for the fact that they have a cloven hoof that seems divided around the middle.

Thanks to their heavy weight, their legs are very strong, capable of supporting their bodies even when they run at full speed.

Yorkshire Pig Temperament and Behavior

Yorkshire Behavior

You may look at your Yorkshire pig and think that a massive pig such as this must be quite slow and lazy, but it is actually quite the contrary instead.

The Yorkshire pig is known for being very quick on its feet, and since it is so energetic at all times, it should be a given that you will need to invest quite heavily into its space so that it can run around at all times to expend some of that energy.

Many people actually make the mistake to get themselves a Yorkshire pig even though they only really have a hobby farm. As such, they think that most pigs don’t need that much space to run around in.

Doing this will result in your pig getting quite temperamental though, as the less they move, the more violent their outbursts will be.

They are very quick to adapt to most living conditions though, and they will still be able to get through living their whole lives in small and confined places, although it is always recommended that you give them ample space to run around in unless you want your pig to become depressed and angry.

If you do give them the space they need though, you will find the Yorkshire pig to be one of the most docile creatures your money could ever get you.

Sure, there are other pig breeds that are more serene than them, but when it comes to their aggressive nature, despite the fact that they are not domesticated, Yorkshire pigs are always going to be quite well-mannered and friendly to you or anyone else around the farm.

Lifespan and Health Problems

Yorkshire piglets
Compassion in World Farming / facebook.com

For the most part, you can expect your Yorkshire pigs to live anywhere between 6 to 10 years, although this again depends on why you raised your pig in the first place.

For example, if you only wanted a Yorkshire pig for their meat, you can get ready to enjoy it around 1-2 years into raising them.

This is also recommended though if that’s your only real purpose for them, since they are quite susceptible to pig illnesses such as pneumonia, parasite infections and bronchitis.


Yorkshire Breeding
Photo by Kevin Noone / Wikipedia.org

Yorkshire pigs are actually quite popular amongst breeders for a multitude of reasons, including the following:

  • They are quite durable pigs, able to withstand even some of the harshest climates around.
  • They are very easy to crossbreed with other breeds.
  • The females or the sows are known for their mothering ability, being capable of producing as many as 10 to 12 piglets per litter.
  • The females are also known for their milk production so they won’t have any trouble with nursing their piglets.
  • They can be fed most foods and they will be just fine.

How Good is the Yorkshire Pig Meat?

Yorkshire Meat
Photo by Yorkshire Meat / Facebook.com

Most of us here love bacon with a passion, we can’t even imagine starting off our day without a freshly cooked piece of bacon alongside our eggs.

If you agreed with that statement then you definitely will enjoy your time raising your Yorkshire pig as their muscular, fatty backs are known for being a top choice amongst pork producers out there.

On top of that, as mentioned previously, due to their high proportion of lean meat, this breed’s meat can be used for a ton of different dishes.

But by far the best part about the Yorkshire pig meat is the fact that it is considered to be higher-class pork.

This breed is known for being very active, and when coupled with just how lean they are, let’s just say that their meat is most definitely worth that extra penny that the high-end restaurants will pay for it.

Why You Should Raise Your Own Yorkshire Pigs

Yorkshire Raise

First and foremost, you should consider investing into a Yorkshire pig due to its mothering characteristics. As mentioned previously, this is a very popular reason for breeders to go for this breed, as the sows not only make for great mothers but they also farrow unassisted for the most part.

Just keep in mind that while they are great at it, they can still have trouble when delivering their piglets, so you may need to intervene here to make the process a bit easier and safer for them.

Also, Yorkshire pigs are quite large so you will need to make sure that they don’t accidentally roll onto their piglets.

Second of all, as mentioned previously, Yorkshire sows will end up with quite large litters, containing as many as 13 piglets per sow in some cases.

Third, their meat is absolutely delicious, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a different breed that can rival it when it comes to its fat and lean meat distribution.

Anna’s Happy Trotters
Anna’s Happy Trotters / visiteastyorkshire.co.uk

Fourth, Yorkshire pigs are known for being very friendly and easy to work with, making them the perfect option for the farmer that’s just now getting into the business.

It can be quite hard to start working with pigs, but due to their outgoing nature and just how friendly they can be, Yorkshire pigs instantly become one of the best suited options you could ever make.

Fifth, their thick skin pretty much makes them perfect for any environments whatsoever as they can survive through most climates. This is one of the main reasons as to why you can find them at most breeders out there, no matter the actual region that you live in in the first place.

Sixth, while they do grow quite slowly, they are going to be ready for the butchering about one to two years into their lifespan so you won’t really need to invest all that much into them because they’ll be out of your farm before you know them.

If you do plan on actually breeding them yourself or better yet, if you just want to keep them around your farm until they are too old to even stand up anymore, you may want to get ready because they can live as long as 6 to 10 years in total.


Yorkshire Pigs
Photo By Kadmy / stock.adobe.com

All in all, are Yorkshire pigs the best option you could make? Honestly, while we would usually say that it depends on the person asking that question, for the most part, the answer will always be yes.

Yorkshire pigs are universally considered to be a very good and attractive pig breed because they excel in every category we could think of.

Their only real downfall is the fact that they are not exactly the healthiest pigs around, and they can end up with a ton of genetical mishaps every now and then, especially if you get into the habit of crossbreeding them yourself.

Even so, you will definitely not regret your choice as Yorkshire pigs are some of the best pigs your money could get you for sure.

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About Leah Shelton

Involved in the “green” arena for over 20 years, Leah has worn many hats due to her diverse experience and knowledge in the field. In addition to writing for Agronomag, she’s also a sustainability consultant with a unique perspective on eco-friendly farming practices. Learn more about Agronomag's Editorial Process.

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