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Berkshire Pork

Unrivaled Gourmet Quality...

R Heritage Farm raises a special and rare heritage breed of pig - The Berkshire. This is a unique breed that is very different from other breeds in terms of meat characteristics and quality. Berkshire pork is often compared to Kobe beef, and some refer to it as the “other red meat.” The Japanese have long recognized the value of Berkshire pork and they call it “Kurobuta” which means “black pig.” In Japan the meat is highly prized and sought after and sells for a premium.


Berkshire pork is unique because of its rich flavored taste, deep coloring, and fine intramuscular marbling which is akin to that of a well marbled steak. Compared to commercial pork which is dry and bland Berkshires consistently produce sweet, tender, moist, and juicy meat which is loved by all that try it. There is no comparison to the pork found in your local supermarket to that of a Berkshire.


Berkshire pork is superior and it’s world renowned for it’s exceptional qualities. Chefs and culinary experts are demanding Berkshire pork and it can be found in up-scale restaurants all across the world. Chefs such as Emeril Lagasse, Thomas Keller and Wolfgang Puck are just a few requesting Berkshire pork…


  • Chef Gordon Ramsay has raised Berkshires and has this to say about them "The meat I have from my own pigs far surpasses anything I can buy. It has a beautiful consistency, good colour and a generous serving of fat which melts away and gives the meat tremendous flavour. The crackling is just amazing and you don't have to put salt on to get it.

  •  Michael Kaplan, chef at Strata in New York says Berkshire pork has “a natural juiciness to it that you can’t compare to any other pork."

  • Chef Corey Lee at the The French Laundry in California has gone to great lengths to get purebred Berkshire and says “it has a very specific taste.”

  • Marian Hines of Tilth in Seattle says “Berkshire pigs have the most wonderful flavor of all the pork I’ve ever tried.”

  • Bruce Aidells, food writer and author, says Berkshire pork is “by far the best tasting pork I’ve encountered…it not only tastes great, with a strong porky flavor, it's also quite tender and juicy.”


The excellent carcass quality of the Berkshire hog made it an early favorite with the upper class of English farmers, Royals, and Asian Emperors. Lord Iveagh, and Clare, Countess of Iveagh in Britain currently raise their own Berkshire's, and in the 1800s the British gave Berkshire pigs to Japanese diplomats. For years the Royal Family kept a large Berkshire herd at Windsor Castle. The very first hog ever recorded with the American Berkshire Association was the boar, Ace of Spades, bred by Queen Victoria of England.

Breed History

Over three hundred years ago the Berkshire hog was discovered by Oliver Cromwell’s army, while in winter quarters at Reading, the county seat of the shire of Berks in England. After the war, these veterans carried the news of the wonderful hogs of Berks to the outside world; larger than any other swine of that time and producing hams and bacon of rare quality and flavor. This is said to have been the beginning of the fame of the Reading Fair as a market place for pork products.


According to the best available records, the first Berkshires were brought to the United States in 1823. They were quickly absorbed into the general hog population because of the marked improvement they created when crossed with common stock.


In 1875, a group of United States Berkshire breeders and importers met in Springfield, Illinois, to establish a way of keeping the Berkshire breed pure. These agricultural leaders of the day felt the Berkshire should stay pure for improvement of swine already present in the United States rather than letting it become only a portion of the “Common Hog” of the day. On February 25 of the same year, the American Berkshire Association was founded, becoming the first Swine Registry to be established in the world. This society drew forth an enthusiastic response from those working with the breed both in this country and in England.


A famous Berkshire of a century ago was named Windsor Castle, having been farrowed and raised within sight of the towers of the royal residence. This boar was imported to the United States in 1841, and it created a stir in the rural press which has seldom been equaled. His offspring were praised for their increased size, along with their ability to finish at any age. Additionally, the very first hog ever recorded with the American Berkshire Association was the boar, Ace of Spades, bred by Queen Victoria of England.


The American Berkshire Association in West Lafayette, Indiana maintains the records and registry of the most influential breed of swine in the history of the world. Berkshires have had great influence upon the swine industry for the past 125 years, and the American Berkshire Association has made people aware of the importance of purebred animals. It was agreed upon when the society was established, that only hogs directly imported from established English herds, or hogs tracing directly back to such imported animals, would be accepted for registration. The breed today is descended from these animals recorded at the time or from breeding animals later imported


Many breeders have emphasized leanness while sacrificing meat quality and taste, yet the Berkshire has a well known history of producing a beautifully marbled carcass full of rich wonderful flavor. When consumers want pork that tastes good the Berkshire above all others is their favorite, not only in the United States but also in the foreign market. Berkshire characteristics have been established and purified over a very long period of time, and Breeders around the world have been working at the task of maintaining and improving Berkshires as far back as any record goes. 

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