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Green Outdoors: Heritage breeds establishing a niche

6:41 PM, Dec 16, 2013   |    comments
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  • FARMINGTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The eat local movement is helping to reestablish hundreds of breeds of livestock which has gone out of fashion. These breeds are called heritage breeds and they were unable to compete as the large farms evolved in the 20th Century.

    "They were very popular on small farms," says Jean Rouillard about her Large Black Pigs.  She took to breeding Large Blacks after her kids did a 4-H project. She chose Large Blacks in part because they are listed as critical in terms of extinction.  Fewer than 200 Large Blacks are registered each year.

    She loves working with Large Blacks, "They are the most docile breed of any pigs and since we have children around, that's important." She also finds it wonderful that the pigs can feed on grass or forage in nearby woods as long as those woods are fenced in.

    She feeds the pigs three pounds of grain and hay in the morning and in the evening.  This enables them to maintain a weight of about 500 pounds.

    The breed originated in Southwest England in the 16th and 17th Century.  They were extremely popular until the 1920's. The industrial farming effort drove them from the market place as they are not a lean "other white meat."

    "They're very good," mused Jean. "The meat is marbleized. It's got fat throughout it.  It's very juicy.  It's fat colore. It's old world, old fashioned pork...like Grandma used to have!"

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