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They Love Their "Large Black Pigs"
Nigel and Sue Parsons of Saanichton, B.C., love their rare pigs. The breed is most commonly referred to as Large Black Pigs, but are also sometimes called "Lop-Eared Blacks" or "Elephant Pigs."
  "The reason for the nickname is that when piglets are born, they have huge, floppy black ears, and look a lot like little black elephants," she explains.
  Rare Breeds Canada, a "watchdog" organization that works to save "heritage breeds", says Large Blacks are endangered. The American Livestock Breed Conservancy (ALCB) considers them critically endangered, with fewer than 200 annual registrations in the U.S. and an estimated global population of less than 2,000.
  According to ALBC's website, the breed was developed in England. In 1899, a breed society was formed. There were a few Canadian imports of Large Blacks in the 1920's, but the breed has never been numerous in North America.
  The Parsons family bought their breeding stock (1 sow and 1 boar) from a breeder in Alberta two years ago, and have since raised seven purebred piglets, 11 crossbred piglets, and another purebred litter is due very soon. Due to strong demand, all of these have been pre-sold.
  "Large Blacks are always black and those big ears that hang down over their eyes like blindfolds. They can't see well because of the ears so they're very docile," Sue says. "The average purebred litter tends to be between 6 and 10 piglets, but crossbreds always seem to produce significantly more."
  Large Blacks' coat color makes it tolerant of many sun-born illnesses, and its hardiness and grazing ability make it an efficient meat producer. The breed is also known for its mothering ability and milk capacity.
  These pigs are characterized by great length and depth of body, making them ideal for lean pork and bacon production. They have long heads with straight faces.
  "They also make very good pets because they're so easy to handle," Parsons explains. "One of the young gilts I sold has been trained by her new owners to sit, lie down and come on command." Parsons' main motivation for keeping Large Blacks is that she wants to help preserve the breed.
  She sells her registered Large Blacks for $400 (Can.) each. Commercial meat hogs for $150.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Happy Acres Farm, Nigel and Sue Parsons, 7485 Wallace Dr., Saanichton, B.C., Canada V8M 1V8 (ph 250 544-1788; happiest@shaw.ca; www.rarebreeds canada.ca or www.albc-usa.org).

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2009 - Volume #33, Issue #3