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Hereford

The Hereford, often called the Hereford Hog, is a breed of domestic pig named for its colour and pattern, which is similar to that of the Hereford breed of cattle: red with a white face. Originating in the United States, the Hereford is a rare variety of swine which was created from a synthesis of Duroc, Poland China, and perhaps some Chester White or Hampshire. It was first developed from 1920 to 1925, with additional breeding and selection leading to the identification of 100 animals as foundation stock in 1934. The National Hereford Hog Record was formed the same year to promote the new breed; within the first decade of its history the association attracted 450 members. The breed description calls for hogs to be primarily red, with a white face and two or more white feet. The shade of red can vary, though deep red is preferred. Hereford cattlemen were so keen on the new breed of swine that the Polled Hereford Cattle Registry Association sponsored the formation of the National Hereford Hog Record.

The Hereford was selected for both performance and its unique red-brown and white coloration that resembles Hereford cattle. Breeders have emphasized early maturation, and Hereford hogs weigh 200–250lbs by five to six months of age. Herefords are easy to pasture but also grain efficient, reaching market weight on less feed than many other breeds. Mature boars weigh about 800 pounds, and mature sows about 600 pounds. The sows produce and wean large litters, making excellent mothers, closely attentive to their bright red and white piglets.

The breed grew in numbers into the mid-20th century, but by the 1960s populations plummeted due a shift in preference by commercial pork operations away from purebred hogs and towards hybrids. Today the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy includes the breed in its watchlist, and estimates about 2,000 breeding animals remain. The characteristics of the Hereford, however, make it a natural choice for a variety of small scale production systems, as they are known for their quiet and docile dispositions as well as feed efficiency. If the breed is given opportunity under such systems, it will be able to earn its place in the future.

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