Is This Hardy and Fast-Growing Pig Right for You?

This year, we decided to breed our Bo, Boo with Duroc genetics. Boo is an amalgam of Tamworth and Berkshire genes, which in the past has led to piglets that are fast growing, loud, and, I might add, quite lovely to look at!

We wanted to try a new breed of pigs this year. We decided to go with the Duke. The Durocs have a reputation for being some of the hardest and fastest growing pigs around.

Here is all you need to know about the Duke pig breed. That way, you can decide whether it is right for you and your farm.

About duke pigs

A red pig with drooping ears, the Duke is an amazing breed to consider if you are interested in raising market pigs.

It is the second most common breed of pig in America.

Most ducross will be a darker mahogany color, as ours was, but you may also find some that are yellow or golden.

History of duke pig breed

Hardy and Fast-Growing Pig
Hardy and Fast-Growing Pig
Tamworth-Duke Par. Image by Rebekah Pierce

They were first tied up in New Jersey and New York in the early 1800s. Duke’s original parents were red pigs from either state.

The pig is believed to derive its red color from the Berkshire pig. Berkshire is a breed that is now black but once had a rust color similar to modern Duroc. Some people also believe that Duke has genetics that can be traced to the Guinea coast of Africa.

A very large pig, the Red Hog rapidly rose to popularity for its large size and largely abandoned its ability to produce large litters of piglets that grew rapidly.

These Red Hogs were eventually divided into Duke-Jersey and today are known as Joe Duke. However, the breed was not renamed until 1823.

In 1823, a man named Isaac Frink of Milton, NY raised a red boar of this lineage. It was prized for its carcass quality, growth rate, calm nature and extensive shoulder and ham areas.

Although the line originated from New Jersey was smaller than many earlier pigs, it ultimately had much better carcass quality. He named the breed duke in honor of his famous Thoroughbred Stallion, Duroc.

Eventually, the original Jersey line and this new Saratoga-based line were crossed to form a hog that was well-suited to most farmers.

In 1n38 it was formally recognized in the creation of the American Duke-Jersey Association (renamed the United Duke Boar Registry in 1933) in 1n3.

A breed of choice for a large percentage of American farmers, Duke is also a good choice for modern homemakers.

Features of Duke Pigs

Although the duke is not the largest breed of pig you will feed on your farm, it is still nothing short of impressive. The average weight of a fully mature pig is close to 900 pounds, while a sow would be around 800 pounds.

With the release of the ears, it is easy to get this pig out of the line-up of other pigs, most of which have erected ears.

As I’ve mentioned before, most Duke pigs will be dark red in color. However, some are very light or golden or orange in their appearance. Durocs are usually of medium length and have a slightly smaller facial dish. They have large muzzle and short, curly tail.

Benefits of raising a duos pig

Duke-Tamworth crosses do exceptionally well when raised in an outdoor environment. Image by Rebekah Pierce

1. Great for outdoor installation

Getting pigs out, whether it is on pasture or in a woodland setting, is a great idea for a lot of reasons. This can actually cut down on the amount of barn cleaning you need to do. It also helps when the health of your animals improves.

Durocs are perfect for an outdoor environment, as they are covered in thick, thick hair from which they arrive in summer. They also have tough, hard skin.

These pigs can easily tolerate both cold and hot weather.

You don’t have to worry about them scorching from the sun, something that is very common with other types of pigs. Duocre can, in fact, tolerate most weather conditions without any problems.

As long as you have a sloppy field to cool them, some rich pastures, and lots of food and water, your ducros will have everything they need.

2. Tender, high-quality meat

If you ever take one look at a Duke pig, your first thought will probably be “blocked”! Duke has a plentiful meat in the ham and shoulder area.

We found that the flesh color ended up being slightly dark red. This was a testament to their diet as well as the fat distribution and leanness of meat.

3. Fast Growth Rate

Compared to other breeds of pigs, dukes grow significantly faster, especially when. In fact, we did a proxy experiment this year. In doing so, we raised both Yorkshire and Duke Piglets for the market.

The results impressed us.

Yorkshire was slightly older than the Dukes – yet Duke reached market weight almost a month ago. Anecdote, but something that I see echoed in the reviews of many other farmers, who like to raise the Duke.

4. Large Litters

Duke is the great mother to sow. They can take care of their young with very few problems.

This is great news given that lighters can be very large. Some say that duocars can give birth to lions of about 2 dozen pigs. This is very rare, but if you are lucky, litters can contain about 10-15 piglets.

Not only that, but Duke has a longer life expectancy – up to 20 years if properly cared for. If you are raising animals, this is an important factor.

5. Minimum Aggression

Although some people find Duke Breed somewhat aggressive, this is not usually the case. There will always be some variation in a breed.

Mostly, however, the duke, raised with other pigs and used for socialization, would be quite light-manned.

6. Good for reproduction

Due to the reasons listed above, Duke pigs are some of the best when you are trying to breed certain characteristics to a new line of pigs. In fact, they are often crossed with Tamworth, Yorkshire and other breeds to make remote pork.

Duke Pigs Challenges

1. Extremely curious and naughty

A major advantage of raising durocs is that they are highly intelligent. In fact, Durox is so smart that many people wonder if they can be raised as pets. In short – I do not recommend it.

Because they are very smart, they are also very curious – and extremely naughty. They learn quickly. However, they can be trained to become obedient over time, in most cases, if you are growing in the market, this is not something you will have time to do.

If you don’t have the time or money to invest in some serious infrastructure, raising Duke can be challenging. By that, I mean these pigs need a fence – not just any old fence, but a good Fence.

When raising other breeds of pigs, such as Tamworth and Yorkshire, we did not have to worry about them.

A 3-strand electric fence was satisfactory in placing them, even on occasions when lightning would knock (they still did not test the fence).

However, our duke escaped regularly. He learned how to close his gate and did it again and again. This was accompanied by pushing the dirt up around the electric fence and page wire fence so that they could wander wherever they felt obliged to do so.

Duke pigs are not animals that are hostile. Even if your barn is locked-tight, it is not a good idea to raise these pigs in an orderly environment. They will not be allowed to route and explore as they please.

2. Scottish personality

The Duke is known to be extremely independent. Even when raised with other pigs, these smart little buggers are not very fond of human interaction. They would bolt away at the first touch.

This is not necessarily a bad thing when you are cooking pork for meat. However, keep in mind that this can make them more challenging to handle.

My husband and I have always joked that you cannot force a pig to do something he does not want to do. Pigs are not like other livestock, such as sheep. These are not species that can be manipulated or forced to do more or less.

This is doubly true for Duke pigs!

However, I have also read that this breed is often used for show rings. I think that, with a little training, you can easily be a duke, who is friendly and can be adequately controlled. All this is how much time you want to do it.

3. Should be raised in social environment

Pigs like to be around other pigs – and this is true for Duke. Duroc pigs enjoy other pigs and will be lonely when left to their own devices.

Not only that, but they will also be curious! Who is trying to escape more pigs – not good news for you or your fans.

Therefore, do everything you can to entertain your pigs. Yes, even if they are pigs of another breed.

How to pick up Duke Pigs

Image by Rebekah Pierce
Duke Cross fences with both electric and page wire for added protection!

Duke pigs should be raised just like any other breed of market pig. Although they can handle most weather conditions, they can provide suitable shelter like a 3-sided barn. This will help them get out of the burning sun as well as the driving wind and heavy rainfall.

A pig will eat an average of 6-8 pounds of feed per day, although it certainly depends on what you are feeding and the age of the pig.

The average pig will eat up to 900 pounds. She is after leaving her mother until she is ready for slaughter.

Many farmers use a mixture of corn and soybeans to feed their ducross. You can also feed any kind of fruits and vegetables, scraps, dairy products etc.

Don’t forget water too.

Pigs require a minimal amount of water per gallon per day, but potentially more if it is a large pig or the weather is hot.

They also need a sloppy space in which to build a wall. Do give this to your pigs when the weather is warm. When it is cold, a little bit of straw bed will suffice.

The Duke is known for being an exceptionally clean animal. They usually only “do their business” in one corner of the barn, sleeping in the other.

Therefore, the straw you will need is minimal. They have no unique health requirements that you will not encounter in other pig breeds.

Are Duke Pigs Right For You?

There are plenty of pig breeds for you to choose from including Yorkshire, Tamworth, Berkshire, Gloucestershire, and more. Why should you choose Duke with all these other options?

To be fair, Duke may not be the right breed for everyone.

Take the time to read the information above and make sure it is the ideal pig for your small farm or home – and if you are looking for a good meat grower that is smart and stocky, then ahead of Duroc Do not look.

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