19 Best Pig Breeds For Meat, Lard, and Bacon

If you’re just starting out with rearing pigs, it’s easy to think that one pig is as good as any other. But that isn’t really the case…

a couple of pigs eating grass
a couple of pigs eating grass

Like most animals, even domestic pigs show all sorts of different qualities and characteristics across different breeds. These sometimes subtle but important differences can actually play a major role in the quality of their various products, be it meat, lard or bacon.

And while it is true you can raise pretty much any breed and get any of those products (or even all three out of them), if you want to optimize your returns or harvest some truly exceptional quality pork, learning your breeds is going to make a big difference.

Below you’ll find a list of 19 breeds that are ideal for any purpose you might have…

The Best Pig Breeds for Meat

Duroc Pigs | Well-Muscled Calm Temperament

1. Duroc

Famous for their rusty red color, large size and surprisingly tame temperament, the Duroc is a great producer of both meat and bacon, but their meat is prized for overall quality, even marbling and great flavor.

Durocs also happen to put on weight quite quickly, and can reach a suitable size for slaughtering in no time with the right diet.

They’re easy to care for and easy to breed which can help you maintain the size of your herd. Fast growth, great temperament, and lean muscle mass are a winning recipe for a meat pig!

Can You Identify a Meishan Pig?

2. Meishan

The Meishan is an inspired choice for a meat pig, one that definitely does not fit in among the other giants on this list.

Slow growing, and looking for all the world like a common pot belly pig, your typical Meishan will only weigh about 375 pounds when fully mature, and even then will be quite fatty.

Not the best characteristics for high-quality meat! But the meat is surprisingly good, and the real advantage of the Meishan is their speed of reproduction.

Females are excellent, caring mothers and produce huge litters regularly, making it easy to continually expand your herd and keep the meat coming.

Pietrain Pigs | Belgian Blue Of The Pig World

3. Piétrain

Unique looking pigs of medium-large size, the Piétrain resembles a dairy cow more than anything else: white coat with large black patches!

The Piétrain is not truly exceptional in any one category, but they can top out around 550 pounds relatively quickly and they tend to carry lots of good, lean meat.

Sows produce sizable litters, and tend to take good care of their piglets with plenty of milk, meaning your next generation should be doing fine by the time they are weaners.

Not too big, generally easy going and it typically healthy, the Piétrain is a dependable choice for meat.

landrace boar 31 1

4. Danish Landrace

Another medium-large pig that is not particularly dense but it’s quite long. The length and proportions of the Danish Landrace pig produces larger, longer cuts in many cases, and their loins in particular tend to be of excellent quality.

Although Danish Landrace pigs top out at about 600 pounds or a little bit more, they grow quickly, and sows usually have very large litters of 13 to 15 piglets.

Do be careful, though, because the piglets are also large for their category and that can cause trouble for mom during birthing!

This combination of high-quality meat and dependably high birth rates means they can be a mainstay of meat production.

Yorkshire Pigs | The Corporate Pork Standard

5. Yorkshire

When you think of a pig, chances are pretty good you imagine a Yorkshire. The single most popular and most-raised pig in North America, Yorkshires are your classic all pink pigs.

Quick growing medium-large pigs, weight can be highly variable depending on the subtype. Historical or “heritage” Yorkshire lines or notable for being quite fatty, while the more modern Yorkshires tend to produce much leaner meat.

Considering that these pigs are extremely popular and sows produce modest litters, they can make logistics easy.

Berkshire Pigs: All You Need to Know

6. Berkshire

Berkshires are another common and popular meat breed that is notable for producing highly marbled pork of excellent quality, so much so that verified Berkshire pig meat tends to command quite a premium on the open market.

A larger pig that grows quite fast for its size and tops out at a little bit more than 600 pounds, proper harvesting can ensure you get a tremendous return thanks to their size and overall quality.

They grow quickly but mothers, while doting, tend to produce slightly undersized litters of 8 to 10 piglets.

Chester White Pig | The King Of Crossbreeding

7. Chester White

The Chester White is another pig with a ubiquitous appearance, being pink and seemingly bald, but they are another mainstay for producing meat since they grow incredibly fast and reproduce almost as quickly.

Chester White mothers don’t have huge litters compared to other breeds, usually averaging around at 9 or 10 piglets per, but they are exceptionally good mothers that usually present a few complications during birthing meaning you can reliably increase the size of your herd.

Pretty good meat, extremely fast growth, and great mothering instincts: what’s not to love if you are raising your pigs for meat?

Raising Hampshire Pigs For Meat — Before & After

8. Hampshire

A stout breed that tops out at about 650 pounds, the Hampshire pig has an extremely distinctive appearance considering of a black face and hindquarters with a white midsection and legs.

This two-tone appearance is definitely pretty sporty, but you’ll like the quality of their meat even better: Hampshire pork tends to be very lean and delicate compared to the meat from other common breeds.

However, they are also slower to grow compared to other meat breeds on this list, and mothers produce slightly undersized litters of eight or nine piglets.

You’ll have to manage your herd a little more carefully if you want to maintain production, but it’s a small price to pay.

The Iberian pig in the dehesa

9. Iberian

The Iberian pig, or Black Iberian, is notable for the production of extraordinarily high-quality pork, with much of it coming from Spain and Portugal.

The quality of their meat and the resulting ham and other products has repeatedly been called the very best hand in the world.

This is partially due to their genetics, and also partially due to their adaptation to pastoral settings where they are allowed to dine on many acorns and other high-quality plant as food.

Their meat typically has high levels of intramuscular fat which, in conjunction with their diet, produces pork of unbelievable flavor.

American Landrace Pig | Facts | All You Need To Know

10. American Landrace

Another perfectly pink pig, the American Landrace is descended from the Danish Landrace pig above. Typically large in size, they can weigh 700 pounds or more.

Their meat is not particularly remarkable, though it is good uniformly, but they make great meat pigs because females show exceptional fertility and high levels of milk production meaning farrowing is simple, and they typically produce large litters that they won’t struggle to raise.

For the mass production of meat, few pigs are better than the American Landrace.

The Best Pig Breeds for Bacon

Hereford Pigs | Uniquely Coloured Hardy Hogs

11. Hereford

Also popular for meat production, these red, white and black pigs are famous for their docile, easygoing temperament, but also for their exceptionally delicious bacon.

For thick-cut bacon, few are finer: ruby red with an excellent texture and superb marbling, the Hereford is definitely an inspired choice for bacon and for any other cuts of meat, really.

Poland China Pigs | Large Rapid Weight Gain

12. Poland China

Properly described as a dual-purpose breed, capable of producing bacon and other meat as well as lard, don’t get confused about the Poland China’s origins: this isn’t some exotic hybrid, as it was created right here in the United States.

Producing very good, if fatty, meat, the Poland China grows quite quickly and can be absolutely enormous, easily clearing 1,000 pounds.

Many examples of this breed have said world records for size and weight, so if sheer bulk is what you are after then the Poland China is a good choice.

13. Krškopolje

Also known as the black-belted pig, this Slovenian breed has been around for a long time and it’s still used right to this very day for meat production and bacon in particular.

Notable for high levels of intramuscular fat, bacon and related products will be of excellent, rich quality and they are commonly used for sausages, prosciutto and salami aside from bacon.

It should be noted that this breed does have some reproductive issues, particularly concerning stillborn piglets, so make sure you pay close attention to defects and breed accordingly.

It's Swine Time | Gloucestershire Old Spot Pigs

14. Gloucestershire Old Spot

You probably know how these pigs look simply based on their name. These guys are spotted, with dense, black spots all over a variable coat of fawn and white.

Although they are a bacon breed, the old spot, or spotted pig, tends to be lean but with modest marbling throughout. This makes them great for thicker, chewier bacon and also for other cuts.

These pigs tend to be on the smaller side and are also friendly and agreeable, making them a great choice for small homesteads.

Notably, these pigs are typically excellent foragers, so you won’t have to do much to supplement their diet if they have room to roam.

Tamworth Pigs | Rugged Self-reliant Bacon Producers

15. Tamworth

Famous, and also infamous, among folks who raise pigs for bacon, the Tamworth is greatly beloved because it produces extraordinarily delicious, dark bacon – and a good amount of it per pig since they are light boned compared to most other pigs.

However, these pigs have special need because they cannot be kept in captivity well at all! They will stress out, struggle to escape and generally raise hell when confined.

This means if you want your pigs to be happy and low stress, meaning they produce that high-quality bacon, you’ll have to let them roam and forage.

If you want to sell their bacon, know that it can fetch premium prices, which is nice, but you’ll have to weigh that against the general fussiness of this breed concerning their housing and care.

The Best Pig Breeds for Lard

Mangalitsa Pigs | Woolly Weird Wonderful

16. Mangalitsa

Mangalitsa pigs, also known as “wooly pigs” or “sheep pigs” are a Hungarian breed renowned for their thick, curly hair that makes them look like sheep.

They are a fatty breed, perfectly suited for lard production, as their marbled meat and high-fat content make them an ideal choice for various fatty pork products like salami.

Mangalitsas are also hardy, adaptable, and easy to handle, making them popular in small-scale farming operations.

Large Black Pigs | Heritage Pork Of Distinction

17. Large Black

Large Black pigs are a rare British breed with a long history of use in lard production. These pigs are incredibly friendly for their size and easy to manage, making them ideal for smaller farms, and not too challenging for novice keepers.

Large Blacks are known for their flavorful and tender meat, which is highly prized by chefs and home cooks alike.

Kunekune Pigs
Kunekune Pigs

18. Kunekune

Kunekune pigs are a breed of domestic pig from New Zealand. They are relatively small, with a barrel body shape and short legs, and they are very slow growing. They also have a notably tendency to graze on grass without rooting in soil like most pigs.

However, they are also well-suited for lard production, as they have a naturally high-fat build and combined with their “grazing” diet this produces delicious, succulent and unique meat.

Kunekunes are known for their gentle disposition and friendly personalities, which make them ideal pets.

Fattoria Palazzo di Zattaglia del Gruppo Alimentare Spadoni: dove la Mora Romagnola cresce libera

19. Mora Romagnola

Mora Romagnola pigs are an Italian breed that has been specifically developed for charcuterie production.

They are known for their high-quality bacon and hams, which are prized for their rich, complex flavor profiles, and also for their lard which is said to possess a delicate flavor.

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