Frequently Asked Questions
The following are answers to questions often posed, they are for information only and published here for guidance. Please discuss any queries with breeders who will be happy to help you. If you have a question you would like answering please feel free to contact us.
I have a litter of Large Black pigs that I want to register, how do I go about doing this?
Firstly, are the sire and dam of the litter registered? If not, are they birth notified and therefore eligible for registration? If the answer to these is no, they you will not be able to register the litter.
Assuming they are registered, you must become a member of the BPA in order to birth notify your litter. Visit www.britishpigs.org.uk for details.
The litter must then be individually identified. The BPA will send you details of what needs to be done in more detail when you become a member, but with Large Blacks they should be ear notched or double tagged before they leave their mother, and birth notified with the BPA before they are 10 weeks of age.
Once the litter is birth notified with the BPA, they can be registered at any time thereafter.
If you have any queries about notching, the BPA have 2 representatives for each breed who will try to answer your questions. Look on the BPA website or contact the LBPBC for details.
I have Large Black pigs and understand they must have a minimum of 12 evenly spaced teats – if they have more and there is an extra teat making it an uneven number – does that disqualify it – or if the 12 teats are of the standard – are the others just bonus teats?
The underline of a pig is a very important thing to consider when selecting for future breeding stock. The Large Black breed standard says ‘Full, straight underline, with at least twelve sound, evenly spaced, well placed teats and starting well forward. ‘
The standard states a minimum of 12 teats, but it would be more usual to have 14 teats, 7 either side. These teats should be well formed and evenly spaced so that the piglets have enough viable milk producing teats for the litter size and enough space in the line to be able to comfortably suckle. Be aware of small ‘blind’ or ‘dummy’ teats when checking underlines. These are generally smaller than the other teats and will not produce milk. Sometimes these are obvious even at a young age, discount these teats when choosing stock and never keep a boar with dummy teats.
If there is an odd number of viable teats on the pig this should not be a problem as long as all the other criteria is met.
The selection for teats when choosing a breeding boar is just as important as that for a gilt as he will pass any faults onto his progeny. It is recommended that the teats on a boar should start well forward with 3 teats being before the start of the sheath.
At what age do Large Blacks reach sexual maturity and should the sexes be kept separately?
If kept in mixed sexed groups boars can be ready for work from 6 months of age and it would be advisable to separate the boars from the gilts before this point. However, if you are buying a boar to work it would be more usual for it to be 8-9 months of age before it will work properly.
At what age should Large Blacks be heavy enough for pork and bacon?
This very much depends on what and how much the pigs are fed. The Large Black pig needs to be matured slowly. Many people will have their own views on feeding but a good quality 16% protein sow weaner mix, which is fed adlib until the pigs are 40kg and then cut back to 1.5kg per day until they reach 65/70kg liveweight for a porker will take approximately 6 months. It will take around 9 months for a bacon pig to reach 110/110kg liveweight. In very cold weather pigs should be given an extra 0.25kg per day.
How can you estimate the weight of a pig without a weighing machine?
If you do not want to go to the expense of buying a weighing crate, you can purchase a ‘weighing band’ for less than £20. By putting the band around the girth of the pigs, near the heart it will give an estimation of weight. If you search on the internet you will find methods by which you measure the length and girth of the animal and do complicated arithmetic to give you a weight, but you will need a calculator…
To weigh your pig – using a tape or a piece of string/rope measure around your pigs’ body, just behind the front legs, record this size in meters. This is known as the ‘heart girth’. Next measure from the base of their ear to the base of the tail, again in meters, this is the length.
Use the following formula to calculate the live weight of your pig:
(An example – assuming a hearth girth of 1.27m and length of 1.02m)
Square the heart girth to get the girth result (1.27 x 1.27 = 1.61)
Multiply the girth result by the length (1.61 x 1.02 = 1.64)
Multiply this result by 69.3 to get the weight in Kg (1.64 x 69.3 = 113.65)
As a rough guide, a pig with a heart girth of 40 inches will be around 85Kg and ready to go for pork. The deadweight will be approximately 70% of the live weight and cuts (the amount of useable meat, minus bones etc.) will be approximately 80% of the dead weight.
Can the Large Black pig be kept outside all year round?
Yes, the Large Black is a very hardy breed. Provided it has a well bedded, draught free shelter it will be perfectly happy. Having an all black skin, the Large Black does not suffer from sunburn, but you will need to provide a wallow in the summer for any pig to keep cool.
Is the skin black when butchered?
No, the colouring of the skin is pigmentation in the top layer. Once butchered the rind will be completely white.
I want to sell meat from my Large Black pigs, but am unsure about labelling.
The Code of Practice for the labelling
of Pork and Pork Products
BPA Pedigree Pork Scheme details
This PDF contains all you need to know about how your meat should be labelled. Your meat should be from birth notified Large Black pigs to be able to claim it is Large Black meat.