Landmark piglets ready to hog the spotlight

The first critically-endangered Large Black piglets bred from frozen, imported semen were born in the United States this summer.
calendar icon 24 August 2020
clock icon 6 minute read

“Preservation of heritage breeds is important to help maintain the genetic diversity of our livestock,” said David Burgett, a member of both The Livestock Conservancy and the Large Black Hog Association, who recently received a few of the piglets at his Illinois farm. “Having dwindled to such a small population, the Large Black Hog, through years of inbreeding with the limited number of bloodlines available in the United States, was in danger of losing some of the diverse traits inherent to specific blood lines. With the importation of British bloodlines comes the responsibility to work together as members of the Large Black Hog Association to improve the herd, to promote the breed and the characteristics that make it unique and so desirable, and build the population back up to avoid its extinction. We are grateful that we had this chance to participate in the joint project with The Livestock Conservancy and Purdue University to improve the future, and promote the survival of the Large Black Hog.”

A second breeding with imported semen will be conducted this fall to produce more piglets. Researchers plan to share their research results and techniques with farmers, enabling them to do on-farm artificial insemination and produce their own Large Black breeding stock. These new techniques for using frozen semen on heritage breed pigs will allow Large Black boar semen to be more widely exchanged among the nation’s breeders to keep their herds genetically healthy. The new frozen semen protocols may be useful for other heritage pig breeds, as well.

The Livestock Conservancy’s Swine Initiative with Large Black pigs illustrates the power of collaboration and technology to advance rare breed conservation.

Click here to learn more about Large Black pigs
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